One of the most common behavioral issues that dog owners are forced to deal with is excessive barking. Not only is it a problem for owners, but it can also cause unwanted tension between neighbors and other pets. On the bright side, there are plenty of techniques that one can use to help appease the barking habit.
In this week’s Sunday Surgery, we discuss how you can understand why your dog is barking too much, and provide steps that you can take to remedy the problem.
Evaluate the Situation
Before attempting to train your dog out of their barking behavior, it is first important to evaluate the situation and understand why they are barking in the first place. There are countless reasons as to why dogs bark, some acceptable and some not. Once you have successfully figured out why they are barking, it will be much easier to begin treating the problem. To help get you started, here are four of the most common reasons why dogs bark:
- Fear. It is not uncommon for dogs to bark out of fear. This fear can arise from an unfamiliar noise, a strange animal in the yard or from an object that they have never seen before.
- Boredom. Believe it or not, some dogs bark simply to amuse themselves. When they are left alone for a long period of time, whether it is in a kennel or outside in the yard, the dog may begin to bark because they are lonely and just want something to do!
- Territorial. One of the most common causes of canine barking is due to their territorial nature. When a new person enters your home, this can often a trigger excessive barking. As the perceived threat gets closer, the barking may continue to get progressively louder. During this time, the dog will look alert and in some cases, may even become slightly aggressive.
- Play or Greeting. Dogs absolutely love their owners and sometimes they want to bark to show it when you get home because they are happy to see you. The same applies to when they are playing – the bark will just be a representation of their happiness and excitement.
How to Stop Your Dog from Barking
Now that you have a good idea as to why your dog is barking, it is time to begin treating the problem behavior. Before doing so, you should know that attempting to make your dog bark less will not only take time, but consistency, trial and error, hardwork, understanding and a whole lot of patience.
- Manage the Environment. During training, you should manage your household environment so that barking behavior is not reinforced or triggered. For example, if your dog barks at people walking down the sidewalk through the window, either keep the blinds closed or find someway to block him from reaching that particular window. If there are certain objects in the home that they bark at, either remove those objects or simply keep your dog away from them.
- Exercise. A walk a day is an excellent way to combat excessive barking. Not only is it a great form of exercise for your dog, but it also helps to burn off all of their extra energy, leaving less energy for them to bark. If you don’t have time to walk your dog on a regular basis, you may want to considering hiring a dog walker to ensure that gets adequate exercise.
- Do Not Shout. One of the last ways that any owner should respond to a barking dog is by shouting. Raising your voice to a dog will only further encourage them to bark because it gives them the idea that you are ‘barking’ as well! Speak with a calm yet firm tone, but never yell.
- Provide Entertainment. If your dog is barking out of boredom or loneliness, provide them with more sources of entertainment. Try leaving out a food-dispensing toy. These are available at pet stores and come in an array of different sizes and shapes. They will keep your dog entertained for hours on end, after all, what dog isn’t willing to work for a special treat?
- Teach New Responses. Dogs who go into a barking frenzy to greet their owners or other humans will need to be taught new responses. One method would be to train your dog to go to a specific spot and sit whenever the door opens. With praise and treats, your dog will always go to the designated spot when the door is opened.
- Avoid Rewards. Never reward your dog for barking. If they bark when they want food and you go to fill up their dish, you have just taught them that by barking , they get what they want. Instead you could try teaching them to ring a bell that is hung somewhere near their dishes. To do so, simply ring the bell before filling up their food bowl and they will get the hang of it. Experiment with different ways to communicate with your dog to eliminate their urge to bark.
Bark Collars: Yes or No?
There are a wide variety of products on the market that promise to put an end to excessive barking by delivering ultrasonic corrections or a slight vibration to your dog. There are also collars that deliver a painful jolt of energy, which can cause dogs to become aggressive.
The truth of the matter is that humane bark collars- those that emit a sound or vibrate, should only be used on a temporary basis and as a last resort. Using them over a prolonged period of time can cause dogs to become timid, stressed and afraid. Please note that Dog Training Genie do not endorse any collars that deliver a shock or cause pain to dogs.
In order to stop your dog from barking, you need to understand why it is that they are barking in the first place. Training methods that work for one dog, may not necessarily work for your own companion. Use praise and the occasional treat to help keep them on the right track. Before you know it, you will soon find that your dog’s incessant barking is just a thing of the past!
Do you struggle with excessive barking? How have you attempted to correct the behaviour? Let us know in the comments!