If your dog barks a lot it can be very unpleasant for you and your neighbors. No one can expect a dog never to bark but some dogs bark excessively. If you have a dog that has a barking problem, it is important to find out what causes the barking. Once you know the reason why he barks, you can begin to treat his barking problem.
Dogs generally bark for the following reasons:
Territorial / Protective:
When someone strange enters his territory your dog knows they do not belong there and starts to bark. Not bad when it’s a burglar, but annoying for the postman or the neighbor who comes to pick up a package. Some dogs also become aggressive.
Alarming / Fear:
Some dogs bark in response to sounds or objects that attract their attention or from which they are scared. This can happen anywhere, not only on their own territory.
Boredom / Loneliness:
Dogs are pack animals. Dogs that are left alone for long periods, both in the house or in the garden, may become bored or feel unhappy. Barking in these cases can be an expression of stress. Dogs may show other symptoms such as destructiveness,and signs of anxiety, such as a change in toileting behavior.
Greeting / play:
Some dogs tend to bark a lot when they are excited or if they are happy to meet a person or other dog. It is usually a cheerful bark, accompanied by a wagging tail and sometimes jumping.
Dogs can also bark because they want something, such as going outside, playing, eating or your attention.
Most dogs who bark at inappropriate times have been rewarded for their excessive barking by being:
- reassured or held to calm down;
- shouted at or barked back to;
- given something , such as freedom or cookies.
To stop the excessive barking, it is very important to never reward the behavior. What can be done to prevent the problem barking initially ?
Good training does a lot!
Dogs trained too late or not well enough are more likely to bark excessively. Teach your dog to bark and be silent on command. If you start this during the obedience training, he will have no trouble following up on your command. If you have a puppy and want to know more about our puppy training click here.
A four step anti-bark method
Make sure that anything that can cause your dog to bark is no longer around. It would be better not to leave dogs that bark excessively outside. Dogs that stay in the garden all day are exposed to many more stimuli and their barking is also much more audible to neighbours. Leave your dog in a small bedroom (not on the street side) with the radio on gently to mask outside sounds.
2. Give your dog toys
Dogs love to play with toys. It is important to teach your dog how to entertain himself with a chew toy. That way your dog can also enjoy himself when you are away from home. There are also toys on the market which you can stuff with healthy food like Kong toys. These are very helpful when your dog barks a lot when you leave him in the morning. Giving him a stuffed toy will keep him occupied longer when you are absent.
3. Do not react when your dog barks
The louder you call, the louder he barks
If your dog barks excessively, he is actually calling. If you tell him to stop, he may take this as an encouragement and start barking even louder. Make sure that EVERYONE ignores him when he starts barking. Do NOT pat him, talk to him, reward, etc. Besides barking, you also have to make sure that you do not react to what sounds (like crying, growling, etc.) he makes.
4. Train and compliment your dog
Treat your dog as your family. Say “shhht” clearly, but do not call it. Say his name, and after that ‘shhht’. If he stops barking, praise him, and encourage him. That way he will quickly understand what he has to do when you say ‘shhht’.Like people, dogs also love compliments. ‘Well done!’ is simple, but effective. Praise him often and reward him for good behavior when he is not barking!
Be patient and consistent with your dog. It takes time to train your dog properly. If you have tried these steps for several weeks and your dog still barks excessively we would recommend you schedule a behavioral consult with Dr Joe.