Old dog, new trick, teaching your older dog not to bark
Many people believe the old saying “You can`t teach an old dog new tricks. Fortunately, when it comes to old dogs that bark, you CAN teach them new tricks. Obviously, it is easier to train a puppy not to bark than it is an elderly dog, but this doesn`t mean it`s impossible.
Whether you have raised your dog from a puppy and missed teaching him to be quiet along the way or are getting an older dog from a friend or even the local pound, it`s important to teach your canine friend not to bark needlessly.
Why Dogs Bark
There are several reasons why your dog is barking and not all of them are bad. While you don`t want the steady barking of a nervous animal, you certainly will want your pet to let you know if there is an intruder or if someone needs help. Understanding the method behind the madness will give you a far better chance of training your dog the right way.
Fear: Is your dog afraid of thunder? Perhaps he barks only around strange men, like the mail carrier. This is quite common, but it doesn`t need to be permanent. Letting dogs have a safe place to retreat to can really help with this type of barking issue. A safe spot to curl up with a favorite toy and a treat will help your dog relax and keep busy for a bit.
Lack of attention: Dogs are social creatures and they often live to please their humans. If you are out of the house for long periods of time, you dog is probably suffering from separation anxiety. To help him get over this, be sure to take him with you sometimes and to take it slowly. For example, just go outside the door for five or ten minutes while leaving some treats and new toys for your dog.
Boredom: Your dog could be barking simply for something to do. If you notice that your canine pal is extra active, scratching at the door or chasing silly things, chances are he needs something better to do. Giving your dog a chore will help him feel happy and useful and will get rid of that bark. Teach him a new trick or play fetch in order to keep him busy. New toys can also be used.
Change: Some dogs are more sensitive to change than others and if there has been a recent move, death in the family or other drastic change, your older dog may be barking for this reason. In this case, it is often a matter of letting your pet become accustomed to the new situation. If there is someone missing, it can be helpful to give your dog a piece of their clothing.
Teaching an Older Dog Not to Bark
Dogs that are over five years may be a little more difficult to train not to bark, especially if this is not a recent development. Many pet owners have unintentionally taught their dogs to bark by responding to them when they make noise, often from the time they are puppies. This just lets the dog know that if he wants attention, he only needs to start barking.
Patience will go a long way in teaching your older dog not to bark. Since this is an ingrained response, the longer your dog has been barking, the longer it will take for him to unlearn the behavior. Rewarding good behavior and teaching the command, “Quiet” will help you get your dog to understand that barking isn`t a good thing to do. Most dogs are happy to please their humans and once they realize that you want the behavior to stop, they will usually attempt to comply. Again, patience is key.