A peaceful camping trip in any season is a wonderful activity. It’s something that many people wait for months to do because of the weather or to get time off from work. Your dog is a family member and so you may want to include him dog in regular camping trips. Unfortunately, barking in camp is a huge problem with dogs which is often not addressed because of the seemingly hopelessness of the situation and owner frustration.
Teaching your dog not to bark in camp is like teaching any other behaviour – you have to do the work. Each dog will take a different amount of time to change his behaviour, but he cannot do it without help from you. In fact, the barking was likely unintentionally encouraged at some point by a human, so now it’s time to get to work and reverse that – or at least modify it so that it is easier to live with.
Why are you barking?
The first step to stopping/modifying the barking is to find out WHY your dog is barking in the first place. Many reasons are painfully obvious to almost anyone. Just observe your dog for a while and determine when the barking occurs most often. Make a list with the top three to five reasons (or one if there is one that you are sure of) for the barking. Is your dog bored, guarding, reactive, aggressive, playing, trying to get your attention, excited, etc. Each reason will have an appropriate tactic you can take to prevent, stop or modify the barking.
The Campsite Is Your “Home”
As I have said before, a campsite is like a home base for a dog. You have living, sleeping and eating quarters for the family, so we must accept that dogs will see this a a place to potentially guard. That is an obvious reason a dog would bark in camp – because the location is seen as home. If your dog is barking in camp because he is left alone or is bored, that is another thing altogether and is most likely entirely preventable.
No matter what the reason for the barking, the first thing you need to do is to find an appropriate campsite. I have talked about this before in a blog post and video which is below. Having a site that you can screen your dog’s view to things passing by is the best and most effective tactic to slow or stop the barking.
STOP SAYING “NO”
Humans have this really bad habit of always saying “NO” to our dogs almost any time the dog does something – or anything. “NO”, “NO”, “NO” – always “NO”. Remove this word from your vocabulary with your dog. It will be difficult, but you need to do this. “NO” does NOT tell the dog anything except maybe “QUIT THAT” or “STOP”. Actually, if you want your dog to stop something use the word “STOP”.
NO is used too often in normal conversation and creates dogs who are too worried about doing something wrong to do anything.
Instead of using “NO” to stop your dog from barking, use your dog’s name in a happy tone and “COME” to get your dog to come to you for food rewards. Simple and easy. This is basic training and needs to be done anyway. “NO” does not teach your dog anything except that you are annoyed. If you train a really good recall instead of always saying “NO”, you will have trained your dog to do the most useful behaviour you can teach (coming to you when called for safety and emergencies) and you are preventing yourself from being boring and repetitive to your dog which will make him not want to be around you as much.
Reward Calm Behaviour
The other important thing is to give your dog attention for NOT barking. Most people ignore their dogs until they are doing something they don’t want. This causes a dog to learn to bark for attention, even if it is negative attention (such as getting yelled at to stop barking) That’s all some dogs get so they take advantage of the opportunity. The idea here is to create a stronger relationship between you and you dog. So pay attention to your dog when she is doing nothing and being quiet more often and REWARD THAT. This will go a long way to modifying any attention getting or bored barking.
So to recap how to prevent barking in camp:
★ Determine exactly why your dog is barking.
★ Prevent nuisance barking by not creating a bored dog. Spend time with your dog and don’t leave him unattended, ever if he is a barker. Train your dog by being with him and teaching him the behaviours you want and not rewarding those you don’t.
★ Train your dog to bark on cue and then stop barking with an incompatible behaviour or another cue (to stop barking). Some people don’t like doing this and don’t believe it works but in my experience it does. It’s better to have SOME cue to use rather than nothing so try it and if it doesn’t work keep trying. You may not have done enough training or done the training incorrectly.
★Reward your dog’s calm behaviour instead of paying attention to the barking and without using your voice (yelling or scolding) to try and stop it.
★Also, refrain from using the word “NO” as any kind of a cue. I use “stop”, my dog’s name and come and then engage the dog to do something else like play (with me or a toy) or eat a reward, etc.
★ Set up your campsite to reduce or eliminate the possibility of your dog seeing people walk by, especially with other dogs. If your dog still barks when she hears people talking, walking etc. work on training her to be calm when these things are happening. it is much easier to train a dog to stop barking when he can’t actually SEE what he thinks he is barking at.
★ If you are still having trouble stopping the unwanted barking or barking that seems somewhat aggressive, it might be time for a professional training instructor (not a dog “trainer” because those are people who train dogs NOT people. You want someone who will instruct YOU). Find an instructor who will help you to train your dog without using force or intimidation. It is completely possible to use no corrections on a dog and stop the barking. Anyone who tells you otherwise has not been properly educated or has never done it.