Do quick fixes exist?
Yes and no.
What is the definition of a quick fix, there are many tools people use to stop a behaviour immediately.
Let’s look at something like barking.
Crate training, bark collars, rocks in a can.
First up I’m not a fan of the coins in a bottle or rocks in a can. Personal opinion it’s at the bottom of my list of ever using it to stop barking, it’s just super intimidating for most dogs, which is the opposite of what we want to build between owners and dogs and/or owners don’t enjoy doing it so often end up doing it incorrectly because of the way the technique feels.
If you don’t feel ok with the technique you use you are bound to pull back, hesitate, be reluctant to use it which causes inconsistency, which makes problems in the long run worse instead of better.
In saying that I have known of sadly quite a few people to be threatened by their neighbours anything that keeps a dog safe I’m all for. Bark collars and crates will help with disallowing your dog to bark.
So in one sense, yes it works, it seems like it takes minimal time and effort on your part to do, so we COULD call it a quick fix.
However bark collars need charging, regular checks, can not be worn all the time all it will create an irritation on your dogs neck they need to be rotated often and left off for 8-12 hours a day.
Dogs work out when it’s on they can’t bark when it’s off they can, or when it’s flat and when it isn’t and some just continue to bark through them depending on the brand and how you use them.
For crating you have to lock your dog up every single time you leave even just ducking down to the shop for 10 minutes, personally for safety reason I like crating my dogs when I am not home so I know they are safe and snug until I get back, but what I find often is if a dog is barking frequently enough they aren’t just barking when the owner isn’t home.
So the crate stops it when you aren’t home but you don’t want to be crating your dog 24/7 so you are either relying on another tool to manage the problem, like a bark collar or keeping your dog inside constantly with you and having to constantly go out to your dog and telling them to shush up.
Doesn’t seem all that quick to me or less work then getting into the core of the issue.
And what is that? Often people put it down to just boredom. They up exercise, they up playing fetch, then they feel frustrated because they are doing all these extra things with there dog, working even harder to keep him happy and it doesn’t seem like it’s making all that much difference.
Motivation starts to slip, now it’s a stress that hangs quietly in the back of your head.
Not a whole lot ends up changing, I don’t know a single “quick fix” that isn’t just a band aid solution.
Digging into the core issue is in the long run going to be the easier, faster solution because it’s going to fix the problem that is causing the symptom of barking.
When searching for solutions on why your dog is barking you’ll come across advice to help cure boredom to prevent barking, the suggestion that it may be separation anxiety cause your dog to bark.
What you should really be asking is this, is my dog frustrated, does he feel confused or conflicted by the actions on those around him, whether it be people or dogs?
Is he often easily aroused by noises around the home, neighbours, dogs, people passing by?
Is he often easily aroused out on walks?
Does he struggle to “mind his own business”?
Does he struggle to follow directions from you when he is in an excited state, whether that be a guest arriving, getting ready for a walk, seeing other people or dogs out on a walk etc?
Is he under exercised BECAUSE his behaviours/emotional responses when trying to exercise him are difficult to manage and you often opt not to do it? (hard one for most to admit but honestly one of the most common)
Do you exercise him according to his breeding purposes? For example, cattle dogs love to chase things, bully breeds love to wrestle and play tug, when you do choose to exercise his brain body or both are you taking what he finds purposeful into consideration?
Do you feel strongly connected with your dog?
Do you feel like he easily understands you in all if not most settings?
Truth is it doesn’t matter if your dog is barking out of boredom, frustration, anxiety, under exercise, because the solution to solving all these problems in the most solid way possible is the same.
It’s building stronger communication and connection, without that you will never be able to truly show your dog how to switch off, mind his own business, relax, have confidence in himself even when his pack has separated, which is a normal thing in nature by the way, dogs are built to be resilient to that fact if things are working correctly.
How do achieve something like that?
By making the conversation a two way street , helping you understand your dog on a level you never thought possible, learning how to leverage your dogs motivators to build a stronger connection so that when those tools aren’t there, the connection is, the confidence and the communication that has been built remains there, the problems solving skills, the off switch are still in place making it so much easier for you to not only understand the why better but to have a fantastically strong skill set to make shifts and changes with your dog as life changes.
Barking is normal and natural and always going to be a part of your dog all behaviours that we come up against are there for a reason, survival, instinct, play are all a part of what makes our dogs who they are, understanding that and learning how to leverage those skills and show your dog how and where to use them better, correctly and in a way that has everyone feeling more comfortable with living with or near your dog is always going to be the “easy and quick” solution in the end.