Australian Shepherd Question & Answer
How can I get my dog to quit barking?
This is a very general question that can have different answers depending on the reason for the barking in the first place.
For example, Aussies are very social dogs and they like being with you. If you leave your Australian Shepherd outside their barking may not be due to anything other than that they want your attention and want to be inside with you. Of course, the solution is simple—let them in. Aussies don't generally do well as "outside dogs" left on their own anyway.
However, Australian Shepherds are very protective and make great watch dogs. So they will tend to bark at anything that intrudes on or near "their" property. It might not be so easy to stop this kind of barking without diligence on your part. This may involve supervising your dog outside and stopping your dog from barking as it happens.
You don't want to do this by yelling at your dog to be quiet unless you want this to become your full-time job. If they are on a long lead you can provide a gentle pop on the line to break their focus on what they are barking at. Create a noise by using an object like a plastic bottle with washers or pebbles in it. Without your dog seeing you, toss the bottle near your dog (don't hit or scare them with it). You just want enough of an effect to destract them long enough to stop barking.
A more extreme form of this approach is to use a "bark collar" that emits a sound, sprays a liquid (like water or citronella) or sends a mild electric current. But this should be considered a last resort and used with the guidance of a professional.
Remember, dogs use barking to communicate and there is some barking that is good. You want them to bark if there is an intruder or someone threatening you. A great approach is to teach your dog the commands "quiet" and "speak." That way if your dog is barking like crazy because someone has rung the doorbell you can give them the command "quiet" so they know the time for barking is over. You can then greet your guests at the door. If the person at the door warrants it you can always have your dog start barking again in warning. There is something about a well trained dog that adds an extra element to home security.
Here is something that many people will overlook when asking "how can I get my dog to stop barking?" Often times your dog is barking because of you. As time goes on you and your dog will develop a relationship and their confidence in your ability to handle a given situation will grow. Yes, your dog will develop confidence in your ability as much as you in theirs.
As they develop this confidence in your leadership they will learn that you have things under control and that they don't have to bark up a storm. Dogs that question the leadership abililty of their owners will take matters into their own hands (paws) and attempt to take control of a threatening situation to try to protect their owners or territory. They may even become aggressive in doing so.
If your dog is barking too much you may need to take the reins of leadership and show your Aussie that you have things under control and they can go lay down, relax and be quiet. Your dog should be looking to you for whether or not to bark. This only comes from trust in you as a leader.
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