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Owners need to teach their dogs what is and what is not acceptable barking. This learning process can be time consuming and persistence is required to assist in the discipline of dogs.

Seek the professional help of a dog trainer or your vet if you need help training your dog.

Barking at other animals

One simple and inexpensive method involves the use of voice control and a water spray gun. When the dog is barking at birds, cats or possums, say (while spraying the dog), “No! Bad dog!” in a firm but controlled voice.

You should never call your dog to you to receive the reprimand, as your dog will believe it is being reprimanded for coming to the owner when called. Your dog should never be reprimanded after the incident, as this confuses the dog as to why it is being punished - it must be done at the time that the behaviour is occurring.

Desensitisation

Desensitise your dog from things that cause excessive barking by gradually getting them accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark.

According to the Humane Society of the US, start with the stimulus (the thing that makes your dog bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that your dog doesn't bark when they see it. Feed your dog treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few metres to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things.

For example, if your dog barks at other dogs:

  • Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far enough away so your dog won't bark at the other dog.
  • As your friend and their dog come into view, start feeding your dog treats.
  • Stop feeding treats as soon as your friend and her dog disappear from view.
  • Repeat the process multiple times.

Try not to progress too quickly as it may take days or weeks before your dog can pay attention to you and the treats without barking at the other dog.

Anti-barking collars

Anti-barking citronella collars can be purchased online or at pet stores. Please see advice from your vet before purchasing a collar as they are controversial, not foolproof and can be quite expensive. Dogs have been known to chew devices off their collar or find other ways around the deterrent device.

Professional organisations

Contact a professional organisation that train dogs to help you stop bad barking habits in your dog. Your veterinarian may be able to assist you with names of organisations that have been successful.

The RSPCA and Agriculture Victoria also have advice on how to reduce nuisance barking.

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