One of the most common reasons dogs get sent to shelters or put down is because they growl, bark, or bite at children. This is not always the fault of the dog. In fact, most of the time the reaction is a direct result of improper pet etiquette. By teaching your child how to interact with dogs, you can avoid negative tension and aggression in your household that may cause you to rehome your furry friend. Here are some tips for teaching your children about dog owner etiquette.
Determine Why Your Dog Is Barking
Start by figuring out why your dog is barking in the first place. Is he scared by something he’s not used to? Is he trying to protect his territory? Is he defending himself against other dogs? By identifying the source of the barking, you will have a better idea of how to train your dog not to bark.
Training Your Dog Not to Bark out of Fear
For many dogs, barking is a defense mechanism when interacting with something they’re not familiar with. If your dog has never seen a hair dryer before, he may bark at one on your bathroom floor. Ideally, you should socialize your dog as a puppy to get him used to strange and unusual encounters. If you still have issues with barking, get down on your dog’s level and sit as close as you can to the object he is scared of. Touch the object while petting your dog to let him know everything is safe. Let your dog inspect the object on his own until he is no longer scared.
Training Your Dog Not to Bark at Strangers
If you live in an apartment complex or you spend a lot of time in the park, your dog is likely to see new people all the time. When your dog barks at a new person, tug on his leash and say “No” sternly. If he continues to bark, you may need to pull the leash shorter. If that still does not work, you may need to grab a hold of your dog’s collar or harness directly with your hand to show him you are in control. For smaller dogs, you may be able to pick them up to stop the barking.
If your dog gets the idea and stops barking, you can reward him with a treat every time he sees someone walking by and does not bark. He will associate the good behavior with the treat and will eventually weed it out altogether.
Training Your Dog Not to Bark for Attention
In some cases, a dog will bark just to get your attention. This is much like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. If you know your dog is barking to get on your lap or distract you from your current activities, ignore the barking until he stops. This will show your dog that barking is not an effective way to get you to pay attention to him.
Training with “Speak” and “Quiet” Commands
Sometimes the best way to train your dog not to bark is to train him how to bark in the first place. This may sound counterproductive, but the idea here is to get your dog to only bark when you want him to. Use training treats to teach your dog speak and quiet commands. The speak command will cause your dog to bark. Let him do this a couple times before you tell him “quiet.” Once you master this back and forth technique, you can tell your dog to be quiet while barking in public.