Shar Peis are a breed of dog that is known for their loyalty and protectiveness. However, this trait can sometimes lead to reactive barking, where they bark at strangers or other dogs, causing discomfort to their owners and those around them. If left unaddressed, this behavior can escalate and become a bigger problem. In this article, we will explore 10 strategies that can help Shar-Pei owners to stop their dogs’ reactive barking. By following these tips, owners can help their Shar Peis to become more confident and relaxed in different situations, while also improving their relationship with their furry friend.
⚠️ Note: While the tips below should get you started, it’s important to realize that your Shar Pei’s excessive barking is a symptom of reactivity. Consider looking into an online training course that specifically addresses reactivity (we like SpiritDog’s “Tackling Reactivity course or K9 Institute’s Dog Masterclass)
1. Identify and Understand Your Shar Pei’s Triggers:
The first step to addressing reactive barking is to identify the specific triggers that cause your Shar Pei to bark. Observe your dog closely to determine what situations or stimuli provoke their barking, such as encountering other dogs, strangers approaching, or loud noises. Once you understand the triggers, you can develop a targeted plan to address the issue.
2. Desensitize Your Shar Pei to Triggers:
Desensitization is a gradual process that involves exposing your Shar Pei to their triggers at a comfortable distance, allowing them to become more accustomed to the stimulus without reacting. Over time, you can slowly decrease the distance between your dog and the trigger, always rewarding calm behavior. This process helps your dog become less reactive to the trigger, ultimately reducing their barking.
3. Use Counter-Conditioning with Your Shar Pei:
Counter-conditioning is another technique that can help change your Shar Pei’s emotional response to a trigger. By pairing the trigger with something positive, such as treats or toys, your dog can begin to associate the stimulus with a positive experience rather than fear or anxiety. Over time, this can reduce your dog’s reactive barking.
4. Use Positive Reinforcement with Your Shar Pei:
Reward your Shar Pei for remaining calm and quiet in situations where they would typically react with barking. Consistently offer praise, treats, or affection when your dog displays appropriate behavior in response to their triggers. This positive reinforcement helps your dog learn that there are better ways to cope with their triggers than barking.
5. Teach Your Shar Pei the “Quiet” Command:
Train your Shar Pei to understand and respond to the “quiet” command. When your dog starts barking in response to a trigger, calmly say “quiet” and wait for them to stop. As soon as they are silent, immediately praise and reward them. Repeat this process consistently until your dog associates the command with the desired behavior.
Related: What online dog training program does iHeartDogs recommend for reactive barking?
6. Redirect Your Shar Pei’s Attention:
When your Shar Pei begins to bark reactively, try redirecting their attention to a more productive activity. Offer a favorite toy, initiate a training session, or engage in play to refocus their energy. This helps your dog learn that there are alternative ways to react to stimuli, rather than barking.
7. Provide Adequate Exercise and Mental Stimulation for Your Shar Pei:
A well-exercised and mentally stimulated Shar Pei is less likely to engage in reactive barking. Ensure your dog receives enough physical activity and mental stimulation daily through walks, play sessions, and interactive toys. This can help reduce pent-up energy and frustration, which can contribute to reactive barking.
8. Create a Calm Environment for Your Shar Pei:
A chaotic or noisy environment can exacerbate your Shar Pei’s reactive barking. Create a calm and quiet space for your pet, with a comfortable bed and designated area for their toys. Use calming scents, like lavender or chamomile, and soothing sounds, such as classical music or white noise, to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
9. Manage Your Shar Pei’s Environment:
While you work on addressing your Shar Pei’s reactive barking, consider managing their environment to limit exposure to triggers. This may involve using window films to obscure your dog’s view of passersby, creating a designated “safe space” for your dog to retreat to, or using baby gates to restrict access to areas with high trigger exposure. Managing your dog’s environment can help reduce their reactive barking while you work on implementing other strategies.