As you can imagine, there is no quick fix to stopping your dog from barking through the window at the mailman, UPS person, or any other hostile person or dog that passes in front of the window. There are plenty of days when I have my dog’s attention, either through training, backyard activities, walking or having him play with toys. But what about those other times?
The problem with window barking is that it works! A dog or person passes by, your dog barks, and the dog or person goes away. In their mind, they did that – they made the thing go away by barking. So the very activity you want to stop gets reinforced over and over again. In the end, the dog learns how to deal with all those scary things – bark and they disappear!
The other problem with window barking, beyond the nuisance of it all, is that your dog takes those lessons and bring it with him on the walk. So he barks at passersby, humans and dogs, and they too, fade away into the distance further reinforcing his barking behavior.
These behaviors cause a flood of hormones to your dog’s brain. That same “rush” feeling you get when on a rollercoaster or jumping out of a plane is a similar hormone your dog gets by taking on the scary thing and it’s reinforcing – he wants more of it. Once he becomes accustomed to that stress rush, his brain looks to for more it to satisfy his “addiction” to the stress, and it becomes a bad habit.
So how do we go about stopping window barking? Number one on the list is nip it in the bud. Block the view. Either draw the shades or erect baby gates to prevent access to the front window (or whichever window(s) are causing the problems). If you don’t want to block the view, you can put decorative film on the lower part of the window. Second on the list is to drown out the sounds coming from the front yard and street. They say that soothing music has a positive effect on dogs. Others say leaving the TV on a talk channel works. You have to find that sweet spot. I have used a white noise machine successfully.
Third, replace the barking with enrichment. Remember, dogs need exercise and mental stimulation every day. To accomplish this, take him on at least an hour of walks (split 2 times a day at least), play fetch, tug of war, or give him puzzle toys and frozen-food-filled kongs.
Fourth, if you want to stimulate your dog’s brain and wear him out at the same time, do 20 minutes of training per day. Not only will the training keep him sharp with his commands, it will reinforce that your are the alpha and he need not worry about protecting you on walks from other dogs. Further, with strong commands in place, you can call him away from the window for a reprieve from the barking.
Fifth, you can train your dog to be quiet. Yes it’s possible. However, you must first train him to speak. It’s kinda like “how would you know the light if there was no darkness.” Please see my other blog on “How To Teach A Dog To Be Quiet”.
Lastly, if your dog is just having a bad day and won’t have anything to do with training, toys, or treats, just ignore the behavior. Do not yell “NO!”. Otherwise, your dog will think “alright daddy is joining in on the fun!” If you ignore and leave the room, many dogs will just stop barking without an audience.