It's been awhile since I've written anything about Waffles, my maltipoo, now 1 year 6 months old. One of the biggest headaches is our dog loves to bark at everything. It's been a struggle at times to stop him from barking and we've tried almost tactic in the book, none of which have been very successful. But there are several situations that our dog loves to bark at:
- Dishwasher when it's active
- Refrigerator Icemaker when ice is ready and dispensed
- Other larger dogs
- Out the window at night
- When the sprinklers go off very early (4am) in the morning
There are other situations, but these are the most common ones that occur on a constant basis. I've tried several ideas and these are the five approaches I used, some of which are more effective than others.
Teaching him Speak command, then Quiet command
The concept behind this method is to teach him to Speak only on command. The goal is to anticipate his bark, command him to before he does so, and then reward the dog. I could not get him to learn the Speak command, and I understand from my friend it's one of the more difficult commands for a dog to learn. It's possible that certain breeds of dogs learn faster than others, but it did not work well on my Maltipoo.
Physical Blocking His View of Offending Situation
For the dishwasher, refrigerator, and window situations above, many people suggested trying to block his view or access to the situation. The window was easy to block off with a large box and this did successfully stop his barking. However the moment we removed the box (even if after a few weeks), he would revert back to his old barking habits. Blocking off the kitchen access to the refrigerator and dishwasher, with a box didn't work since the dog is triggered by the noise. He merely runs up the box and barks non-stop.
Use Treats to Take His Mind off Barking
We used treats to keep his mind off barking when around other large dogs. We used the commands he had previous learned: sit and down. This would stop the barking, but the moment all the treats were gone, he would immediately start aggressively barking at the larger dog.
Hold Mouth Shut and Teach Quiet Command
Another method is to hold his mouth shut while training him with the Quiet command. This method feels a bit mean, but there are times when this is necessary. The key here is to approach from behind the dog and only do this if you're certain your dog won't try to bite you. Many friend's with dogs use this approach with success, but it hasn't worked for me. The key here is to immediately hold his mouth shut (gently) each time he barks until he learns.
PetSafe Gentle Spray Anti-Bark Collar
This one was an investment, $35 for the PetSafe Anti-Bark Collar. But it worked surprisingly well. It worked for every case except for barking after seeing something outside the window. The anti-bark collar does make our dog noticeable sad, but was successful at stopping future barking even when not wearing the anti-bark collar. After a few sprays, our dog learned not to bark at the refrigerator, dishwasher. Getting him not to bark at large dogs took longer with the anti-bark collar. It took a whole evening, but he eventually stopped barking. For awhile, he stilled showed his teeth, but now he runs around the large dog without any problems. The device is so effective that the anti-bark collar can be off, but still be effective.
The beauty of the PetSafe device is the instant citrus spray the moment he barks, which is immediate feedback that both startles him and bothers his smell. The reviews have shown this doesn't work on all dogs, so this is hit or miss. I've recommended to a friend, but it didn't work on her older dog. But for $35, I think it's worth a try.
All in all, there's no one single way that works for all dogs. Some approaches may work on one dog, but not another. You just need to trial and error which approach works for your dog. This has been my experience, and I find the PetSafe Anti-Bark collar was most effective for me. And while I can't say our dog NEVER barks, he is much more tamer than at earlier points in his life.