Dogs normally bark because it is something in their nature. But when the barking gets out of control, it can be a problem. In some situations when your dog keeps on barking, it could cause a lot of discomfort, irritation and might even subject you to some legal problems if your neighbors get offended by the continuous noise.
This is why it is important to know how to stop a dog from barking for attention. It is also very important to know the difference between the normal and the problematic pattern of barking.
Why do dogs bark?
Dogs bark to express how they feel because it is one of the limited forms of communication they have. A dog barks when he simply is excited or wants to play. Sometimes dogs bark to express that they are angry. Dogs will bark when they are bored, stressed, or having nothing to play with.
It is usually easy to distinguish between the different types of barks. A dog that barks because he is excited or happy barks in a higher tone than a dog that is barking to express a threat.
A bored dog will bark in a depressing low pitch monotone that may last for hours. A dog that is feeling lonely and suffering from separation anxiety will sound absolutely desperate while he is barking and you will be able to tell the difference.
How to stop a dog from barking for attention?
Remove the motivation:
If you want to understand how to stop a dog from barking for attention, then you need to understand what his motivation is. Usually a dog barks to seek attention and will continue to do so because usually it works and you leave whatever you are doing to attend to your dog. Stop doing this and don’t do what your dog wants.
See what your dog gets out of barking and remove it. This will take some time especially if your dog has been doing it for years. Don’t weaken and stand your ground because this will only encourage your dog to do.
Ignore the barking:
After your dog understands that you are not giving in, it is time to ignore the whole issue. Don’t punish your dog but don’t pay attention and completely ignore the barking issue. It is sometimes better not even to look at your dog.
Reward a positive behavior:
The best way to learn how to stop a dog from barking for attention is to teach your dog that good behavior gets rewarded by enforcing a positive behavior. As soon as your dog stops barking, it is very important that you reward him on the spot.
Give your dog a treat immediately after he stops to teach him that this behavior will be rewarded. Use this technique to further enforce the positive behavior by extending the time your dog has to be silent before you reward him.
Teach your dog an alternative behavior:
If you want to learn how to stop a dog from barking for attention, then you need to give him an idea of what else they can do if they want to play with you.
This will take some time but will teach your dog that they can act differently because you haven’t responded to them and they haven’t attracted your attention. For example teach your dog to grab his favorite ball or toy and bring it to you to express that they want to play instead of barking non stop.
Train your dog to deal with your departure:
Separation anxiety is one of the main reasons why your dog will keep on barking to attract your attention. If you want to learn how to stop a dog from barking for attention then you need to expose him to different signals that show that you are leaving the house before you actually do to get him ready for your departure.
You can hold your keys or put on your coat to show him that you are leaving. Also it is important to leave your dog alone in the room for a while until he can get used to staying on his own.
How to avoid boredom barking:
The best way to avoid boredom barking is to give your dog more play and more exercise to keep it busy. This is especially important if you are leaving. Just let your dog play with you for a while before leaving for work.
Teaching your dog to overcome their fear and anxiety is a key factor in making your dog stop barking for your attention. Counter-conditioning will teach your dog to associate their fear with a treat. For example you can leave a puzzle stuffed with food for your dog to enjoy while you are not in the house and will be removed once you come back.
This will associate something they don’t like with something that they actually do. Training your dog takes time and effort but the rewards are priceless.