Dogs communicate in various ways, and barking is one of them. If your dog wants food, play, or just your attention, they might bark to get it. This behavior could be reinforced if they receive the desired attention when they bark. However, excessive or disruptive barking could indicate other issues, so monitoring and managing it appropriately is important.
Signs that show my Dog is Barking for Attention
Barking When Left Alone: If your dog barks excessively when you leave the room or house, it might seek attention. It could be expressing its discomfort with being alone.
Barking When You’re Occupied: If your dog starts barking when you are busy reading, watching TV, or working, it may be trying to get your attention because it wants interaction or playtime.
Barking at Specific Times: If your dog consistently barks at particular times, such as during your meal or when you’re on the phone, it may be a sign it’s seeking attention, knowing that those are times when your attention is divided.
Barking for Objects or Activities: If your dog barks at its leash, toys, or food bowl, it may ask for a walk, play, or feeding time. This behavior shows that the dog has associated barking with getting what it wants.
Stops Barking When Attention is Given: A clear sign is if your dog stops barking when you give it attention or engage with it. If the barking ceases when you start playing with or petting your dog, it is likely barking for attention.
How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking for Attention?
Ignore the Barking
Initially, don’t react to your dog’s barking. Turn your back, avoid eye contact, and don’t speak or touch them. They need to understand that barking doesn’t get your attention. For instance, if your dog barks when you’re working, continue and do not respond until the barking stops.
When your dog stops barking, treat or pet them, reinforcing the positive behavior. Use a command like “quiet” when they stop barking, and reward them. For example, if they stop barking when you say “quiet,” immediately give them a treat or their favorite toy.
Distract and Redirect
Use a favorite toy or activity to distract them when they start barking. Then, redirect their attention to something constructive like a puzzle toy or obedience training. For instance, if your dog starts barking for attention, redirect them to a chew toy or a game of fetch.
Be consistent with your training. Don’t reward your dog’s barking at certain times and ignore it at others. Consistency will help your dog understand what is expected of them. For example, if your dog barks at meal times, consistently ignore the barking and only feed them when they are quiet.
If the barking continues despite your best efforts, consider consulting a professional dog trainer or a behaviorist. They can provide customized strategies and solutions. This can be especially helpful for dogs with deeper issues causing the barking, such as separation anxiety or fear.
Instant Remedies to Stop Dog Barking
Remove or Block the Trigger
If there’s a specific stimulus causing your dog to bark, like a neighborhood cat or a passing car, try to remove or block it. Close the curtains, or move your dog to a different part of the house. This can provide immediate relief from the barking.
Use Noise-Blocking Devices
Devices like white noise machines or fans can help drown out outside noises that may trigger barking. Remember to ensure the noise level is safe for your dog’s ears.
Use a Pet Corrector
A pet corrector is a can that emits a hissing sound that dogs don’t like. It can be used to interrupt and discourage unwanted behaviors like excessive barking. However, it should be used sparingly and responsibly to avoid causing stress or fear in your dog.
Tools like bark collars and ultrasonic devices can be used to stop barking. They emit a sound, vibration, or a mild static shock when your dog barks, discouraging the behavior. These should only be used as a last resort and under the guidance of a professional trainer.
Provide Physical and Mental Stimulation
Sometimes, dogs bark out of boredom. Ensuring your dog has plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation can reduce excessive barking. This can be achieved through regular walks, playtimes, and puzzle toys.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I ignore my dog when it barks for attention?
Ignoring your dog when it barks for attention can be an effective training strategy. It teaches your dog that barking will not yield the desired result. It’s important, however, to ensure you are ignoring the barking and not the dog’s needs. If the barking is due to hunger, fear, or a need for relief, these needs must be addressed.
Can attention-seeking barking lead to destructive behavior?
If attention-seeking barking is not properly managed, it can escalate into destructive behavior. Dogs may resort to behaviors like chewing furniture, digging, or scratching at doors if their attempts for attention through barking are ignored or not appropriately managed. This is why addressing the behavior properly is crucial and ensuring the dog’s physical and emotional needs are met.
What happens if I reward my dog barking for attention seeking?
If you reward your dog for barking for attention, you’re reinforcing the behavior, teaching them that barking is a successful way to get your attention. This will likely lead to more barking in the future. Instead, reward your dog when quiet and calm, teaching them that this behavior earns your attention.