How to control barking.
Barking is the most common complaint of American bulldog’s owners and their neighbors. In Ontario, dogs are prohibited from barking at all times according to noise by-laws. Barking can serve as a territorial warning signal to other dogs and pack members. American bulldogs may also vocalize when separated from their pack or family members.
How can barking problems be prevented? Socialization and habituation – get puppies used to as many new people, animals, situations and noises as possible. This will minimize the amount and intensity of alarm barking. Effective crate training should decrease an American bulldog’s anxiety when it is left alone. If you have two American bulldogs, they provide company for each other and this may reduce distress vocalization.
Attention-seeking barking can be problematic and is often reinforced by owners giving in to their dog’s demands. Allowing the barking dog indoors, letting it out of the crate, feeding it, patting it, praising it, playing with it, giving it a toy or a treat (other than as a training aid), or even going to the barking American bulldog to try to quiet it down can all serve to encourage the barking. Never reward barking with any attention, even occasionally, because it usually makes the barking more likely to continue.
Get a few chew toys to give your American bulldog something to do.
How can I train my American bulldogs to quiet down on command?
Training the American bulldog to be quiet on command is an invaluable aid for controlling undesirable barking. Most owners accept their American bulldog’s barking as normal and even acceptable. However, the barking becomes problematic when it is too loud, too frequent, or will not stop on command.
A good method to teach a quiet command is to wait until your American bulldog is barking, say to a doorbell, and while he is barking place a tasty treat by his nose. Most American bulldogs will stop barking to sniff the treat. At the same time, you must say the word you will use for quiet, such as ‘silent’, ‘hush’, etc. When the American bulldog is quiet (because dogs cannot sniff and bark at the same time) you can praise him, say ’good quiet‘ and give a treat. Again, as with all new tasks, numerous repetitions are necessary for lasting learning.
Alternatively, distraction or remote punishment devices can be used to disrupt barking. One of the most effective means for interrupting barking and ensuring quiet is a remote leash and head halter. A pull on the leash disrupts the dog and closes his mouth which should also coincide with a verbal command such as silent. Quiet behavior can be encouraged first by releasing the head halter and then by giving a reinforce such a as praise or food, if the dog remains quiet.
Soon the dog should associate the closed mouth and the spoken prompt with the absence of noise, and begin to stop barking when given the verbal prompt alone.
Another way is to use a vinegar spray and a command NO every time your dog barks – but you need to be consistent and do it every time.
Another way to teach the American bulldog to stop barking on command is to teach him to bark on command. Use a stimulus that will cause the dog to bark and pair it with a ‘bark’ or ‘speak’ command. American bulldogs that bark on command can be taught to stop barking on command as well. ‘Turn off’ the barking by removing the stimulus that causes the barking to start, and pair that with the command silent or hush, then praise the American bulldog when he stops barking.
How can I train my American bulldog to be quiet without constantly telling him?
The key is to reward the behavior that we want (quiet and settled) rather than constantly paying attention to the behavior that we don’t want (barking). Each time you attend to a barking dog to quiet him down you actually inadvertently reward the barking by giving your American bulldog attention or treats to quiet down. Alternatively, you may aggravate the problem with yelling and punishment which can make the dog more anxious and more likely to bark. The goal of training should be to teach the American bulldog what you want him to do instead of trying to teach him what you don’t want him to do. By providing a daily routine that provides play, exercise and training, followed by set times where the American bulldog is taught to settle and nap or play with its toys in the bedding area, your American bulldog can be reinforced for quiet times, rather than for play-soliciting, attention-getting and barking behaviors.
We do not recommend an anti-bark collar if:
– Your dog barks because he is truly frightened. Dog with separation anxiety bark, pace and chew up things in your house or yard. Talk to your veterinarian about this. Don’t get an anti-bark collar until you’ve resolved the anxiety problem.
– Your American bulldog barks because he is blind, or old and confused. An anti-bark collar won’t help your poor old American bulldog and might make things worse. Talk to your veterinarian. There is a drug that may help the confusion, and you may find that giving him more clarity solves the barking problem.
– Your American bulldog is uncontrollable and seems out of touch with reality. If your dog just acts really crazy and won’t respond to anything you do, the collar may not work. Ask your vet for the name of someone who specializes in dog behavior.
– Your dog has a high pitched yip instead of a bark. The collar can’t detect high frequencies and won’t work.
Citronella anti-bark collar
A Citronella anti-bark collar is the most effective way to stop dog barking, and the kindest. Citronella anti-bark collars are not only a lot nicer than shock collars, they work better.
When your American bulldog barks, the collar sprays a mist of citronella scent in front of his nose. Dogs don’t like this. The hissing noise startles them and they dislike the citronella smell. Most bulldog figure things out very quickly and stop barking. University studies have shown that citronella anti-bark collars are twice as effective as shock collars. We can’t guarantee that the Gentle Spray citronella anti-bark collar will work for your American bulldog.