When it comes to dog barking, Bark Busters trainer Mary Garrison says pet owners have their own preferences.
“If you want your dog to notify you when someone comes to the door, that’s fine, but there’s a time and place, and you should be able to stop barking quickly,” Garrison says.
Controlling your dog’s woofs and yips is all a matter of focus, voice, and body language, she says.
Get Fido to Focus on You
You cannot correct your dog’s excessive barking if he’s not paying attention to you.
“If you’re trying to control the barking or anything with your dog, and he’s not looking at you, you’re going to fail,” Garrison says.
An obedience class is one way to get your dog to focus and pay attention to your voice.
Stand Tall, Say It Strong
When your dog barks, correct his behavior with a low, consistent tone that is without excitement.
Garrison teaches the pet owners she works with to use a low, guttural sound, almost like a growl, to correct barking.
When you give the correction, you also have to look like you’re in charge — stand tall and act calm.
“If you’re laying on the couch, and you’re giving your dog a command, they’ll look at you and think, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Garrison says.
Reinforce Correction With Your Behavior
What happens after the correction is just as important as the correction itself, Garrison says.
If the dog stops barking, reward them with affection, and reinforce the behavior with repeating this process.
For small dog owners, Garrison offers this advice: “Never, ever pick up your dog when he starts barking because it reinforces the barking. You just gave them some power and some appreciation.”
Meet the Expert: Mary Garrison has trained about 1,300 dogs during her seven years with Bark Busters, a worldwide company that’s been around for two decades. She works with pet owners in south central Lake County.