While there are no “quick fixes” for stopping a barking dog, some general rules for day to day management can get you to a place of better calm for you and your neighbours!
- Don’t leave the dog outside alone to practise barking while you are absent. Leave her in a crate or in a small room inside the house (e.g. laundry). This needs to be a familiar place where she has practised being alone before. You can play music to calm your dog, e.g. Through a Dog’s Ear, put a Thundershirt on the dog, leave a frozen Kong®, use a DAP infuser or DAP spray. Practise little sessions of this during the day when you are home.
- Give the neighbours a bag of small treats that the dog loves. When the neighbours come out their back door and walk near the fence get them to throw a handful of small treats over the fence. They don’t need to speak to or look at the dog. Just have the dog think that when the “scary” people come into their yard, treat will rain from the sky. This is more about desensitising the fear response than rewarding the barking.
- When the dog is resting quietly in the back yard, go out and reward her.
- Have 2 warnings and then a consequence for barking behaviour:
- Use a stern voice and say, “Enough!” Praise the dog for stopping.
- If the barking starts up again within 2 minutes, growl a little with, “Uh-uh!” Praise the dog for stopping.
- If the barking starts up again within 2 minutes, isolate the dog by tying up, crating, removing from the source. Do this calmly and quietly. The “punishment” is not your ranting and raving, but the isolation from the household.
- When you are at home and the dog is barking, put her on a lead and do some on-lead training to bring her focus back to you. Do some loose leash walking, sit, drop, stand, watch, touch etc. See if a 5-10 minute training session wears her out a bit!
- If there are catalysts to her barking that happen at regular times when you are home, tie her up close to the back door with a frozen Kong® or a bone. Alternatively give her a food puzzle toy such as a Kong Wobbler®, Nina Ottosson Pyramid®, Goody Egg®, Buster Cube® or similar.
If you are still struggling, after a conscientious effort with all of the above strategies you might like to consider a home visit so that your very specific needs can be addressed.