How to Stop a Dog From Barking in the Morning


Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Why Is Your Dog Barking in the Morning?

Barking in the morning for the purpose of waking up the owners and eliciting them to start their day early is a form of nuisance barking. What increases this form of barking is obviously the act of getting up and attending to the dog by giving it food or attention. To better understand why a dog continues to bark in the morning despite not getting up and attending to the dog, it helps to understand all the mechanisms that come into play when a behavior is about to extinguish.

To better understand the process of extinction, which is the process of a behavior diminishing and eventually ending, we can compare a dog's behavior to a big fire. Giving in to a behavior like barking in the morning is adding fuel to the fire. The behavior increases, becomes stronger, and is harder to extinguish. If the fuel is not added, the behavior will likely become smaller and easier to extinguish.

Because extinction undergoes some interesting processes, it is worth learning why the act of not getting up still causes your dog to bark or even causes it to increase in intensity and duration. This behavior can be explained as extinction bursts. What happens in an extinction burst is that behavior increases temporarily, enough to have dog owners believe that the act of not getting up is not working.

Let's take a look at what happens in the dog's mind during an extinction burst. The behavior of barking in the morning had to start somewhere. Very likely, upon barking in the morning, you or somebody in your family got up and fed the dog. Since the barking worked in getting what they wanted, they likely continued to do so, and you likely continued getting up and feeding them.

Then one day you decided not to get up and ignore the barking, thinking this would nip the behavior in the bud. It did not work, your dog likely barked even more than before. Why is this? It is because of the process of extinction burst. Basically, your dog is thinking, ''My owners this morning are not getting up as usual. I need to increase my barking in intensity and duration so they get up since just barking a little is not working." They now bark more until you or somebody else in your family finally got tired of hearing them and finally got up.

This only aggravated the behavior. Extinction bursts take place when an owner tries to stop a behavior by not giving in and the dog increases the behavior to obtain whatever it wants. As much as an extinction burst sounds like an annoying problem, in reality it is a sign that not giving in is working. Giving in when an extinction burst takes place will only add more fuel to the fire.

Terry Ryan, a respected trainer and president of Legacy Canine Behavior & Training Inc., explains in her book The Toolbox for Building A Great Family Dog that "Once you recognize what the rewards are (in your case, getting up and feeding them) and take them away, the behavior will likely increase immediately. This is known as an extinction burst. In plain words, Gus will get worse before he gets better. It might be frustrating, but take it as a good sign. It's working! You've got his number! Stay the course and the behavior will drop off over time.''

The secret to stopping the behavior is therefore to never give in. The worst thing that can be done is giving in some days and resisting others. This puts the dog on a variable schedule. What this means is that if the dog barks and gets fed one day and not the next day, the behavior of barking only puts more roots because it works in the same way as playing the lottery. People get hooked on playing the lottery because of the variability of it. Slot machines are based on this principle.

How to Stop the Barking in the Morning Behavior

So what is the treatment plan? Eventually, your dog will have some pauses in between barking. These pauses must be used to your advantage. Only get up when there is silence. If you are getting up and the barking resumes, walk back to your bedroom. Make sure your dog takes notice of this. She has to hear that her barking is what causes you to not open her door. Quiet brings you closer to opening her room, while barking gets you more distant. Being smart, and looking for rewards, dogs eventually learn that silence becomes reinforcing and it will eventually replace barking, which should gradually extinguish.

Tips:

  • Room darkening shades or moving the dog to another part of the house that is a bit darker may trick her and allow you some extra sleep.
  • A bedtime snack may help the dog feel less hungry in the morning, especially in dogs fed only once a day.
  • Keeping the dog in the same bedroom with the owners may help decrease the barking. A blanket in a corner of the bedroom may be made the ''dog's place''.
  • Teach the quiet command. When the dog barks, say ''quiet''. The moment the dog quiets down say ''good!'' and give a treat. If the dog barks, turn your back and ignore.

Important considerations:

  • Make sure your dog is not barking in the morning because she needs to go potty. Most dogs really need to go after keeping it all night. Make sure she is let out to potty last thing in the night.
  • Make sure your dog is well exercised during the day so she is more likely to sleep in the night. A tired dog is a good dog.

© 2011 Adrienne Farricelli

Steven on October 08, 2018:

Sounds logical, but it doesn't help when neighbour is complaining. ie: trying to train the dog to bark less over time, but neighbhor knock on the door and threaten to have authorities to take the dog away if barking keeps on happening and is not stopped... that'd really suck if authorities really do burst in and take the dog away while the dog is still in the process of being trained to bark less over time.

Thackery Grundle on August 01, 2018:

I'm glad the author explained what extinction means so all of us ignorant folk can at least pretend to be on her level.


7- Stop your dog barking by distracting him

One way to stop dog barking is by distracting him in an alternative activity.

for example, your dog starts barking when someone knocks at the door, you can distract him with a clap or whistle or keep his favorite toy by the door

and encourage him to pick it up when a guest comes, even sudden sounds can help a lot like throwing something at his feet.

These sounds will cause your dog to stop barking and focus on the new source of the noise


How do I get my dog to stop barking in the morning?

Our charming rockaway wolf is about 9 months old and is turning out to be a great alarm clock. He is up at 5:55 am every morning trying to nose us out of bed. If nudging and blanket yanking and elbow nibbling and face licking don't work, he starts barking. It doesn't matter how late his last walk was, he is up and he wants us to get up.

When I do take him out he doesn't seem to have to pee urgently -- he waits until we get three blocks away to the park and then sometimes longer yet.

It seems like the same bark that he uses with dogs in the park that won't play with him. It's his "hey guys! Guys! Get up and play with me!" bark.

We can tell him to get down, which lasts a few minutes, but he will not just let us go back to sleep. I really need him not to wake the neighbors up. I know they rise much later than us and I'd be pretty annoyed if I was hearing him hours before I had to wake.

Any suggestions for reigning this in?


My Pet World: How to stop a dog from barking at the TV

Every time there’s a commercial on television with dogs or animals in it, my Westie barks at it. I have tried using the leash when she barks and sitting her next to me. While she is on the leash, she behaves. But the minute I release her and there’s a commercial with animals in it, she is barking again. I have given her treats when she’s on the leash and there’s a commercial with animals in it and she doesn’t bark. But the day after, she is barking again. How do I stop her from barking at dogs on TV? — Mirna, Eatonton, Georgia

Commercials and TV shows with barking dogs and doorbells tend to set off our canine friends. It’s not always easy to train a dog to never bark. After all, dogs have been bred to alert us for centuries. However, there are a few ways you can train your dog to stop barking once they start.

Start with your dog on the leash since that has already yielded some success for you. When your dog barks, say “ssshh” – a short, staccato sound. Most dogs react to this immediately and stop barking, at least for a moment. At that moment, use a clicker or a reward word like “bingo” to let them know they did something right, and then give them a treat. If your dog doesn’t react to this sound, then buy a Pet Corrector, which you can find online. It makes the same sort of sound but at a different velocity and pitch, which might work better for your dog. Be very consistent with the training and she should begin to understand your request over time.

Another option is to thank her for alerting you. This doesn’t work with all dogs, but when my dog barks to alert me to the doorbell, I sometimes say, “Thank you Buster.” He usually stops barking because I have acknowledged his alert. It sounds strange, but I have seen it work for some dogs.

Also look for ways to keep your dog busy while you are watching television. Introduce some puzzle toys or chew toys to keep her preoccupied and less likely to engage with the dogs on television.

Would feeding my cat a kidney diet cat food every day from early in its life prevent my cat from developing kidney disease? – Karen, Appleton, Wisconsin

No, it won’t prevent kidney disease and is actually a poor diet for healthy cats, according to Deb Zoran, DVM, Professor, CVMBS Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department at Texas A&M. Zoran says, “A healthy cat needs a diet that is much higher in protein (greater than 40% protein if it is dry food or greater than 10% protein on the label of canned food). Because kidney diets are so low in protein (less than 26-28% protein), cats will start to lose their muscle mass because their body uses their own body muscle to replace what they need and which is not present in their diets.”

So please feed your cat a normal diet and wait to treat your cat for kidney failure should the time ever come.

I don’t understand what the story is with prescription cat food. We have two cats. Fiona has had no health problems whatsoever. Our other cat, Sally, had bladder stones, which we had surgically removed. Now our vet wants to prescribe this prescription cat food for Sally. Because we can’t control which one eats what, he says it’s OK for Fiona to eat the prescription cat food as well. If it’s OK for our healthy Fiona to eat it, what is the need for prescription cat food? – Stephen, Long Beach, New York

While it won’t hurt a cat to eat prescription food occasionally, it is not sufficient to maintain a healthy cat’s ongoing dietary needs. Prescription diets are meant to meet the medical needs of a sick animal and are not intended for healthy animals to eat. Prescription diets are expensive too, and it would get costly feeding two cats this diet when one cat doesn’t need it.

You can easily feed your cats different diets by halting free-feeding and feeding them in separate rooms twice a day. Another option is to purchase a microchip or collar-activated feeding dish that only opens for the cat with the corresponding microchip or collar. They can be worth the investment in a multi-cat home.


The Neighbor’s Dog Barks Constantly! What Can I Do?

Even the most ardent dog lovers among us become aggravated if a neighbor’s dog barks incessantly. The constant yapping can disrupt sleep, ruin your time in the yard, and generally become an ongoing nuisance. But there are some steps you can take with effort and a little luck, you and the neighbor’s dog can peacefully coexist.

For starters, don’t blame the dog he’s being a dog. Several things could cause the barking:

  • Some breeds are more territorial than others. Whether the dog is in the house or out in the yard, he may be “protecting” his home from passing cars, someone walking near his property, or just the mailman approaching the door.
  • Dogs don’t handle boredom well. If the dog is alone all day in the house or left alone in the yard for long periods of time, he may develop unwelcome compulsive habits, such as barking.
  • If the dog sees or hears lots of activity outside, he may become excited enough to bark. This isn’t necessarily a warning it may be a way to express frustration at being left out of the fun or a stress reaction to the noise and activity.

You get it, but you’re being driven to distraction by your neighbor’s barking dog. So what can you do?

1. The first step is to talk to your neighbors. If they’re away from the house all day, they may not even know about the barking. Or they may be aware of it and are already working on the problem.

While it might be tempting to just drop a note in their mailbox, meet your neighbors face-to-face. Leave the attitude at home and communicate in a friendly, neighborly way that the barking is becoming a problem for you and your family. Don’t assume, don’t accuse just explain the problem and give them a chance to respond. It’s possible they’re inexperienced dog owners. In that case you might want to suggest some resources that will help them manage the barking.

2. You can be proactive, as well. If the dog barks every time you step into your yard or venture near his property, try blocking his vision by planting a hedge or erecting a fence or privacy screen. If the dog’s barking is territorial, blocking his view of your property may remove the threat.

3. Of course, dogs don’t just sense your presence visually. Mr. Barks-A-Lot next door can also hear or smell you. If blocking his view doesn’t help, and he still perceives you as a threat, maybe it’s time to make friends with him.

Ask your neighbors if you and your family can meet their dog and let him get to know you. You might even suggest that the neighbors bring the dog over to your yard to play a bit. If your trips to the yard are rare, your occasional presence may startle or frighten the dog. Try making time outside an ordinary occurrence. Once he’s used to the sight, sounds, and smells of his human neighbors, they may not be such a big deal to him, and he won’t feel the need to bark.

4. So, you’ve done all the polite neighborly things you can to stop the annoying barking, and nothing’s changed. You may have to resort to filing a formal noise complaint. Most municipalities, landlords, and homeowners’ associations have noise regulations.

You may have to do some detective work to locate the appropriate authority in some cases, the local animal control authorities are responsible for noise complaints about barking dogs. It might be helpful to check with other neighbors to see if they’re also affected by the barking. If so, ask them if they’ll file similar complaints.

You may have to resort to contacting the police. Barking dogs are probably not high on their priority list, and you’ll have to provide them with a written record of everything you’ve done so far. But they may issue a warning or citation to your neighbor.

Last, you can take more drastic steps when all else fails, including taking legal action by going to small claims court. Keep a record of the dates and duration of the barking, take video or audio clips on your mobile phone, and keep a record of all the steps you’ve taken so far. You might even consider hiring a lawyer to help you through the system.

Are you seeing a theme here? You cannot expect the dog to respect your wish for peace and quiet. But if you’re willing to make some effort, and if you understand why the dog is barking so incessantly, you may be able to resolve all this with a friendly visit, some time spent with the dog, and at most, a few alterations to your yard.


Watch the video: Puppy wakes up too early? How to sleep late with dogs!


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