Does Your Dog Bark When You Leave the House?
12 June, 2013

I know a lot of dog owners find it hard to leave their dogs at home when they go to work.  It becomes even harder when your dog, who you love dearly, is driving the neighbors crazy because he also hates that you leave for work and barks all day or night!  Dogs can be trained to stop barking when you leave the house.  It just takes time, effort and patience.  Yes, patience!

Below are some tips to help keep your dog quiet and occupied while you are away.

Keep your dog in a quiet part of your house

Keep your dog in the quietest part of the house to calm him or her down.  Try to keep the curtains and/or shades drawn.  A darker environment has a calming effect on most dogs.  Curtains and/or drawn shades can also block some of the sounds from the outdoors for alarm or ambulance barkers.

Leave the radio or television on when you leave

Leave a radio or TV on as white noise. In many homes, there is always a TV or radio on so if it is off, your dog might not like how quiet it is and start barking. The radio/TV being on will not only mask the outside noises, but also makes your dog feel like everything is normal when you leave.

Give your dog a great toy every time you leave

As you leave, give your dog a chew toy with your scent on it. The toy should be something he or she LOVES deeply and feels like this is a reward.  It could be a flavorful bone or even a stuffed Kong. Give it to your dog right when you leave.  Your dog need to know that this treat appears only when you leave so being left behind isn’t hat bad after all!   When you walk out the door, hopefully your dog will be too enamored with the toy or treat to care.

If you have tried all of the above and you are still hearing from your neighbors that your dog is barking, then try the next steps.  You will need a few days to practice the below.

1. First, imitate your daily departure routine. Do you usually search for your keys, gloves, pack a gym bag or throw out the garbage? Try to make your pup think that this is just like any other day when you are leaving to go to work.

2.  As you give your dog his special toy or treat, make eye contact and tell your pup in a firm and matter-of-fact manner to be quiet until you return.  Try not to plead or get emotional; it will only serve to emotionally charge the situation and further stress-out your dog.

3. Leave for just a couple minutes. Go one floor down and come back up using the stairs or just leave your house.   If you haven’t heard your dog barking, return and gently praise him or her. If you hear your dog start to bark, rap on the door with a solid object like a key ring until your dog quiets down and start over.  Each time your dog barks, rap on the door and start over. It could take up to a half hour to get a couple of minutes of silence. When you succeed, make sure to go inside and reward your dog.   Then leave a half hour later and try again.

The goal, of course, is to be able to stay away for longer and longer periods of time without having to correct your dog for barking. The time away must be built up in small intervals. Set goals (five, ten minutes) and go back in and praise your pup if he remained quiet for the allotted time.

Most dogs that are quiet for two hours can usually stay that way for eight to ten hours. It is working up to getting to that first hour of silence that is the hardest to achieve. But, with time and patience, you and your dog can resolve the barking issue. The process can be tedious but you and your neighbors will reap the rewards.

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