What if your dog barks at things from inside your house or apartment?
Draw the curtains over the front windows. As an alternative, home-supply stores sell tinted cling film that you can use to block the view—not my first choice aesthetically, I have to admit, but with luck only a temporary blight on your décor. If your dog’s jumping on the back of a sofa or chair to reach the windows, consider rearranging the furniture. You might set up baby gates to block access to the windows or just close a door between your dog and the Room of Barking.
Step 4. Mask Outside Sounds with a Fan or a Radio to Stop Your Dog’s Barking
If your space is an open plan or if you have a small apartment, it may not be possible to close off a room or otherwise completely block your dog’s access. For anyone whose dog reacts strongly to outdoor sounds, but especially for apartment dwellers, a white-noise machine, a fan, or a radio playing soft music can help. Set it up by the door or window where that provocative noise comes in. Run one of those snaky draft blockers along the door’s bottom edge. If you have a plywood hollow-core door, can you replace it with something more solid?
Step 5, Reward Your Dog When She Doesn’t Bark at Things
The beauty of all these tactics is that they don’t depend on your being there to work. And, of course, a human being has to be present for training or behavior modification. When you’re home with your dog, make it your business to notice times when he doesn’t react to things, or when he reacts mildly and appropriately. For instance, he might get briefly alert and then lie down again. Either way, say “Yes” quietly, or click to mark his good behavior, and give him a treat. When your dog’s barking isn’t always frenzied and out of control, it’ll be easier for him to learn new behaviors. At that point you can begin teaching him a “Now be quiet” cue.
Step 6. Should You Use a Bark Collar?
Clients often ask me about collars that react to the sound of a bark by delivering a squirt of citronella or an electric shock. I don’t recommend them, for a bunch of reasons.