In this post, I’ll be sharing how to get your dog to stop barking in the backyard. It’s a lot easier than you think! I’ll be using the example of Rex. Rex is Michelle’s rescue Chihuahua who’s favorite hobbies used to include barking at the wind, barking at his shadow, and barking when he heard his own bark. Let’s get started…
When Michelle first brought in Rex to our home, that little 8 pound chihuahua, he… definitely needed work. He was the yappiest little thing, barking at anything and everything that he possibly could. Honestly, a leaf could fall on him and he’d get scared and start barking. I couldn’t even relax with him outside because he would just start barking nonstop.
But Michelle’s been working with him these past few weeks on that. And honestly, he’s recently become a totally perfect little angel dog in the backyard. He’s quieter, but he’s also just WAY more relaxed and confident in himself. It’s like he went from being a little 8 pound ball of anxiety to a cool, confident Mr. Steal Yo Girl chihuahua.
What To Do
The first thing Michelle did was order a crate for Rex. We both felt kind of bad about using crates at first. But we learned how dogs can actually really come to love their crate if you do it right. Sure enough, Rex loves his crate now, and it’s a safe space for him to chill out and relax when he’s feeling a little too wound up or vulnerable.
We leave the crate door wide open and when play time with the big dogs gets a little too rough, he runs to his crate on his own and lies down in there for a few minutes to settle down.
The trick is to make the crate a very appealing and cozy little place for your dog. You want your dog to enjoy his crate time and feel safe in there. So you can put in a soft little bed and one of his favorite toys, and you’re good to go. Oh, and make sure the crate is just big enough for him to stand up and turn around in. The smaller space gives him a stronger sense of comfort and security while still being just the right size to move around in.
Last, you’ll want to spend time with your dog outside. Right when he starts barking at whatever, go quietly walk over to him, pick him up and place him in his crate for 2 minutes.
You HAVE to make sure that you don’t say anything to him when you do this, and do not put off any angry body language that your dog can pick up on. Just be nonchalant.
Go back and read those sentences like 7 more times, because it’s probably the easiest thing to screw up for this entire method. Don’t be angry, don’t say “NO!”, just quietly and calmly pick him up and place him in his crate for 2 minutes. You don’t want this to be a punishment for your dog. Any longer than 2 minutes and the crate becomes a punishment rather than a quiet little time out in your dog’s mind.
He SHOULD quiet down while in the crate for those 2 minutes. It’s okay if he doesn’t totally calm down, but you do want to let him out of the crate only when he is being quiet. That way he learns that silence is a good behavior that gets rewarded! Repeat every time he starts barking again outside.
It usually takes about 28 straight days of practice for a dog to learn a new habit. But to be honest, we started seeing such a drastic difference in Rex after just 2 weeks that it inspired me to write this post and share how far our little dude has come.
Now if he barks outside, we usually just have to do this crate routine once with him and he gets the picture for the rest of the afternoon. That’s a HUGE improvement from when we first started, and Michelle would crate him like 4 or 5 times in a single afternoon.
These days when he hears other dogs in the neighborhood start barking, his little ears perk up, he wags his little tail, and he goes right back to his calm little chihuahua sunbathing… like he’s on the beach in Cabo with his little margarita.
Test this out with your own dog every day for the next 2 weeks, then come back and leave a comment with your progress. Remember to actually do this consistently and daily, otherwise it won’t work as well.
I know it can feel weird to use a crate in training, but if you make it a safe and comfy place for your dog, you will see some amazing results for the rest of his life. If little spastic Rex can do it, your dog definitely can too!