How can I stop my Jack Russell barking all the time?
Understanding why dogs bark
It's a fact of life that Jack Russells, and all other types of dog, are prone to barking. It's just how they communicate. But sometimes it can get a little bit out of hand, so how can we prevent annoying and seemingly random barking?
Firstly, try to understand why your Jack Russell likes to bark. Is he in a new environment? Did you make a major change to your house? Do you have guests over? Do you sometimes leave him alone for extended periods of time?
Dogs are pack animals, and get enjoyment purely from being around others. Leaving him alone away from his 'pack' of humans a lot will make him feel insecure, and likely to voice his concerns.
Major changes to your home or environment might make him feel uneasy, and a bark is his way of expressing that. Dogs do get used to their home surroundings over time.
Also, Jack Russells get extremely excited when guests come over, whether they've met them before or not. This extreme excitement they experience might make him want to shout "HELLO!" over and over again. He is just a super friendly dog!
So my point with understanding a dog's bark is that we don't necessarily want to stop a dog's barking altogether - but we do want to be able to stop a dog's barking on command, and to keep any random barking under control.
The key is to show calm and confident leadership to your dog in situations of inappropriate barking, and let him know clearly that you do not tolerate it in your family.
With some dogs you might need what's called an 'interrupter' to distract him from whatever was making him bark in the first place. For example, slam a door closed or make some other loud noise. Because Jack Russells are small, you could also throw a cloth over him as an interrupter.
You could even go as far as buying an anti-bark collar. These either spray the dog with citronella, or emit a high-frequency noise whenever it senses barking. These stimuli are obviously unpleasant to the dog, and he will learn with time not to bark. This might be useful if he barks at other dogs a lot.
The aim is not to scare the dog, but to make him associate barking with an unpleasant stimulus. He will infer that when he barks, something unpleasant will happen.
If your dog is barking for attention in the home, then a less ideal solution is to let him know that this will not work by quietly ignoring the barking and waiting for him to stop.
You might also have unknowingly reinforced any random or loud barking behaviour by giving him affection whenever it has happened in the past, and he might have interpreted a calm voice as approval of his barking. Dogs don't speak English, but they are excellent at reading your tone of voice.
Finally, it's obviously important to also differentiate appropriate from inappropriate barking. We want our Jack Russell to let us know when he needs to answer the 'call of nature' or when there's a burglar in the house.
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