There was the time I was engrossed in writing an article and our dogs were alarm-barking ferociously. Resisting the urge just to tell them to stop, I reluctantly got up to investigate. No, the house wasn’t on fire, but I did find our horses running down the driveway toward the road.
So you have a dog barking problem – What solutions are out there? Trying to stop your dog barking should start with finding out why it is barking in the first pace. This article looks at some motivations for dog barking, what works and what doesn’t!
Many of the “humane” methods are humane to humans. Those standards shouldn’t apply to animals. Citronella in the eyes is as painful as a quick shock. What we might prefer is not the same as what a dog might. The beauty of the shock collar is that it is over quickly, and animals (generally) learn fast. So while trying to work it out in a way that a human would prefer may work, for dogs that are persistent and stubborn barkers, these collars are quick and effective trainers. And, that method may have more to do with you and what you can stomach than what an animal might actually suffer less from.
Get backup from other neighbors. If your neighbor ignores your requests or doesn’t make a change after you’ve asked politely, it can help to get neighbors involved. Talk to other people who live nearby to see if they’re also being kept awake by the dog. You can then talk to your neighbor again as a group. This time your requests are likely to be taken seriously.
The first two categories are definitely the most common types of dog barking. The first, separation anxiety, obviously occurs when you are not around. The second category may occur when you are home but will also occur when you are not. In most cases the territorial barking probably increases as you are not there to stop it and the dog may become more defensive when you are not there. Obviously to stop dog barking when you are not there is a far more difficult proposition.
A chest-led harness is a perfect training aid, as it takes pressure off a dog’s sensitive neck by distributing the pressure more evenly around the body. When the leash is attached to a ring located on the chest strap and your dog pulls, the harness will turn his body around rather than allowing him to go forward. I recommend this kind of harness for anyone who needs extra help, as safety has to come first.
Sometimes dogs bark for darn good reasons. I recall one January morning when I was awoken before the sun. The dogs were going ballistic. I peered out the window to see a young moose sauntering down the street!
Unsurprisingly, this image has an effect on young Tony, so I would call out, “Mum! There’s someone at the door!” adding, “possibly an axe-murderer…” under my breath. If Mum was upstairs vacuuming, I would say it louder. When Mum heard me, she would come into the living room and say “Thanks, love”. As I was a smart child (my avoidance of potential psychotic lumberjacks being a good example of this) I would then stop calling for Mum. It would have looked odd if I had carried on, especially if the visitors walked into the living room to find me gibbering away. Now, if upon hearing me, Mum had come downstairs and told me to shut up, or even hit me for letting her know, that would have been ridiculous.
I love my dogs but I do admit their behaviour problems are extremely frustrating, especially when I myself feel like I can’t work with them one at a time because the other doesn’t like to be left out. I didn’t plan on the third dog (originally was just gonna keep the brothers until they passed on, then start afresh with a ‘clean slate’) but my sister and mum rescued the pup from someone who wasn’t particularly good to him. He came to us really thin and has since filled out nicely, and because I love dogs, rehoming him isn’t an option anymore (though my fears of a pup learning the brothers hiccups were realised as he’s started becoming more vocal x_x).
Of course you’d rush out and get them. But…what if the doors were locked and you couldn’t get out? Would you sit down, relax and have a cup of tea? Of course not. You’d shout for help and call your baby back, or try and break free so you could get back to them.
Did you know that we yell at a barking dog, they often feel we are joining in? Does your dog bark at you when you are the phone? Think maybe you taught this by accidentally giving them the attention they were seeking?
Teach your dog tricks. Learning and practicing tricks is an excellent way to prevent boredom in dogs and discourage compulsive behavior. Tricks require focus, attention, and retention of lessons, which can occupy your dog both physically and mentally.
For this reason bark collars are considered by veterinary behaviorists to be a costly investment for something that most likely will not work long-term and may even be harmful. More exercise, chewing, company and stimulation can assist.
When they bark, simply say something like “Thank You”, in a VERY gentle voice (rather like you would whisper in somebodies ear). Then if they continue with the barking, go and take a look out the window and again say “Thank You” again very softly, before walking away. (Now I know this may seem odd, BUT it makes total sense to your dog – I promise!)
There are a few things you can do to get your dog to stop barking at inappropriate times. It’s important to note that these tips aren’t an overnight fix. Be patient and stick with it, though, and you will begin to notice a change in your pup’s behavior.
It could be that your dog does a lot of ’alarm barking’, for example when there is someone at the door, or maybe they bark when left on their own. They may bark when other dogs in the neighbourhood start. Or they could be barking at birds or cats in the garden.
In the photo above, Beck is about to bark. He barked to get Finney to chase him. Right after this photo was snapped, I intervened and stopped Finney from barking. Beck is an action guy and he then barked to get Finn going again. In this instance, I called them to me and gave them both a minute to chillax and regroup.
Dogs that are not bored will rarely bark without a serious reason. The next time you see the dog barking in the living room and running around agitated, it may be because he is really bored. Take him out for a walk. Then, try to find more entertainment options for him for other days so that the situation does not repeat itself.
Consider crate training. Crate training’s success varies considerably from one dog to another. Some dogs are frightened by having to be left in a crate, while others see the crate as their own safe space and an assurance that someone will be home at some point to open the crate.
If your dog barks when you leave the house (which can be a sign of separation anxiety), set up a safe and quiet place for them away from the front door. This may be a back bedroom, laundry room, or spare space.
Try to look at things from the dog’s perspective when the dog is outside. See if there is anything outside in particular he is barking at, such as rabbits, squirrel, another dog, something else you think the dog might be barking at. Then think about whether there is a way to reduce this trigger.
I highly recommend no bark shock collars. Our stubborn pup was constantly barking and after a couple days of shock therapy she fell right in line. It may sound blunt but it’s the best damn invention for a dog there is.