Since your dog can’t tell you what he needs or what he’s thinking with words, he relies on barking to communicate. Unfortunately, some dogs get into a habit of barking excessively, which can become annoying to their owner or to anyone within earshot. Living with a habitual barker can be stressful and ultimately threaten the bond the two of you share.
In order to break your dog of this bad habit, it’s essential to find out why he’s doing it. Once you understand why the excess barking is happening, it’s easier to address it in a calm and effective manner.
In this blog post, we will examine strategies to reduce the unwanted barking behavior and redirect your dog’s attention towards a more acceptable activity.
Your Dog Barks for a Reason
Barking, along with howling and whining, are all normal canine behaviors. However, it’s up to you to train your dog not to bark when it doesn’t serve a useful purpose. Some of the legitimate reasons a dog may bark include:
- Response to an outside stimulus, such as someone knocking at the door
- Greeting you after being separated all day
- Being in a playful or excited mood
Your dog may also get into the habit of barking due to separation anxiety, boredom, or seeking more attention than she’s currently getting. Before you draw up a strategy for fixing the unwanted barking, spend several days just observing it. What seems to cause anxiety in your dog? When does the barking seem to go on the longest? After identifying several possible root causes, it’s time to progress with your training.
If you truly can’t figure out the reasons for the excess barking, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get his or her feedback. It’s important to rule out a physical cause for too much barking, such as your dog being in pain and having no other way to tell you.
Teaching Your Dog to Quiet Down
Since dogs naturally seek the approval of their owners, it’s important not to show your pet any extra attention because of the barking. Even when your dog is very loud and you feel frustrated, do your best not to react. Yelling at your dog only makes the problem worse because it makes him more anxious and likely to bark in response. The time to lavish attention on your dog is when he behaves in a way that pleases you. What to do? when neighbors dog won't stop barking.
For example, if you want him to sit down on a floor mat after coming in from outside rather than darting through the house with dirty paws, give him plenty of praise and attention for this behavior. Telling him that he’s a good dog and rewarding him with your attention and treats reinforces the message you’re trying to teach. If this causes too much excitement and he starts barking, walk away and ignore the behavior until he settles down again.
How to Re-Direct Your Dog’s Attention and Stop the Barking
The action you take to respond to your dog’s excess barking depends largely on the reason behind it. Here are some common scenarios and ways for handling them in order to improve your dog’s behavior:
- If your dog is alone for several hours each day, she may bark out of loneliness. You may want to consider enrolling her in doggy daycare or hiring someone to come to your home for a short time each day to walk or play with her. Whenever possible, coordinate schedules with family members to minimize the time your dog spends alone. You can also try leaving a TV or radio on to distract them. There are also videos on youtube.com with music that can help your dog relax when suffering from separation anxiety.
- Dogs who don’t get enough exercise can become bored and destructive. Make sure you set aside enough time each day after returning home to meet your dog’s need for physical activity. It doesn’t matter so much if it’s a walk through the park or tossing a tennis ball so long as it’s consistent.
- When your dog starts barking for too long, re-direct her attention with a toy or a fun activity. However, make sure she understands that she must be quiet in order to get it. If your dog will not settle down, ignore the behavior until she gets the message. Once she has stopped barking, issue a basic command such as sit or lie down to keep her focus on a more positive behavior before giving her the toy or starting the activity.
- No matter how frustrated you may feel at the barking behavior, avoid yelling or physical punishment. Not only will the behavior not improve, your dog will soon associate you with pain.
When All Else Fails, Seek a Professional Dog Trainer
Some dog owners become so despondent about the constant barking that they resort to debarking surgery. This does little to solve the problem because the dog can still bark, just with a quieter and raspier voice. It’s also a permanent measure for a temporary behavior problem.
If your dog’s problem barking doesn’t improve after several weeks of implementing the above strategies, it may be time to consider enrolling him in obedience classes or working one-on-one with a dog trainer. There’s no shame in seeking outside help, especially when it improves your relationship and the opinion that neighbors and other family members have about your dog. Thanks for reading. We are accepting guest post on our blog, write for us today.