Is your dog a window-barking addict? Are your neighbours starting to complain? Or maybe you are the neighbour with the barking dog nuisance next door to you?
Barking at the window can be a real problem for many people because it is self-rewarding behaviour. Why can it be tough to prevent?
Barking becomes a habit!
A dog that is at all protective or enjoys chasing can easily have a very strong habit reinforced by barking at the window/door. Why? Imagine the scenario. A visitor comes to house – dog thinks ‘yikes’ (or even, initially, ’what’s that’?) and barks. Sometimes the person may come in and sometimes they may deliver something, then leave. The odds are that unless you run a business or doctors clinic, most people approaching the house will be delivering something. This teaches the dog in a very clear way. Dog reacts by barking – person goes away. At our house we can have around 5-6 people delivering leaflets, charity collection bags, and the post, in one day. The remainder of people are visitors, who come in – the dog invariably recognises family and often doesn’t bark. So, an act that is repeated 5-6 times each day that have (to the dog) a successful outcome, builds a powerful habit.
Barking becomes an addiction!
If the habit is 5-6 times a day, nearly every day, that’s pretty powerful. What could make this worse?
- Owner – YOU! Do you sit there and tell the dog not to bark every time it barks? ‘No! Don’t! Stop!’ – all sound a bit, or really a lot, like you are agitated as the dog is at the person coming to the door! It sounds like you are joining in. This can make the dog more anxious, hence more inclined to bark.
- Punishing a dog can also make it worse. The dog may be still worried about outside and also worried about you on the inside of the window. You only react every time someone walks by… so the dog is likely to think ‘QUICK! Chase them away as fast as possible!’
- A window where there are passers-by on the street. Not everyone is coming to the door, but lots of people may simply walk past. This could extend your barking dog practice to 15-20-40 times a day if you are on a school run route or near shops.
What do I do about it? Should I stop it?
- Neighbours and noise nuisance – not a great way to live harmoniously with your neighbours and you could end up in trouble with your local authority. Be a responsible dog owner instead.
- What if your dog gets out and chases the ‘scary passer-by/visitor’ down the street? Or as I commonly see in my work, a person comes to the door and the dog dashes past owner in an effort to reinforce their ‘GO AWAY’ message… and bites the visitor (poor delivery person – I am sure ‘posties’, mail carriers and delivery folk will tell you it happens to them a lot!)
Rehab! Ways to stop it.
- Prevent visual access – move furniture, close curtains, restrict access to that room
- Noise – keep dog away from places where they can hear street noise that may set them off
- Teach a very, very good recall from all areas of the home. Instead of yelling DON’T BARK!!!! simply say ‘Come here!’ and reward your dog. You may need to sit in the room with your dog on a lead or line to reinforce this at first of course, but make the rewards big and KEEP CALM
- Give your dog MORE TO DO especially while you are out. Is the window game one of the best forms of entertainment? Give them a tug a jug, or a chewy treat, or get someone to come and visit them during the day, or give them an extra walk. Leave them tired out before you go and you will have dog that really cannot be bothered.
If you need more help, please check out my dog barking manual.