Dogs do more than just bark. They whine, they whimper, they grumble and growl, they scream, they howl…and each communication can contain messages that help you understand your dog. When your dog is communicating out loud, take a moment to ﬁgure out what he’s trying to say, and why, and what, if anything, you should do about it.
But, since dogs bark for various reasons, the first thing to do is to figure out why your dog barks, at what you might consider to be the most inappropriate times. Once you know the reason behind the uncontrollable barking, you can start to treat the problem.
This is caused by one of two reasons. It could be an “I want to get to you but can’t” situation, such as when a dog is on lead or at the other side of the road, which is known as ‘frustration-related barking’. Or, it could be a “GO AWAY, you are scaring me” situation, also known as ‘fear-related barking’.
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.
Block your dog’s view: (helpful for alarm barkers and territorial barkers) a quick way to get a handle on alarm and territorial barking is cutting off your dog’s visual access to whatever is inciting him outside. You can simply close your blinds or install a temporary privacy window film that obscures the view. Place the window film a few inches above your dog’s line of sight, then gradually lower it down inch by inch over the course of several weeks once your dog seems less interested in staring out the window.
Desensitize your dog to solitude. If your dog has moderate to severe separation anxiety, she most likely will not be cured overnight. A good way to get your dog more accustomed to solitude is to gradually desensitize her to being left alone and reinforce the fact that getting ready to leave does not mean abandonment. This is a slow process that will take several weeks of practice and consistency, but should prove effective for long-term results.
A young, energetic dog craves lots of exercise and attention from you. Thirty minutes to an hour of vigorous exercise in the morning will go a long way toward helping your dog settle down. For the first few weeks, you may need to have someone come over at lunch to exercise him again.
If you want to find out more about what makes your dog tick, and what to do about any unwanted behaviour you may be experiencing, then The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell (my Mum) is available at your local library, online and in all good bookstores. If you would like more hands-on help, let me know.
Here is a YouTube video of a trainer using a clicker to teach ‘speak’. A clicker is a noise that you pair with treats, so when you are training, your dog knows he is on the right track. You can also train this skill without a clicker and just treats.
If your dog barks at any and every noise and sight regardless of the context, he’s probably alarm barking. Dogs engaged in alarm barking usually have stiffer body language than dogs barking to greet, and they often move or pounce forward an inch or two with each bark. Alarm barking is different than territorial barking in that a dog might alarm bark at sights or in any location at all, not just when he’s defending familiar areas, such as your house, yard or car.
Reward good behavior. When your dog finally does stop barking, it’s important that you praise and reward her for her silence. Over time, your dog will learn that being silent and obedient will achieve greater results than acting out and barking.
Your ﬁrst step is to gently inform your neighbor that her dog is barking excessively, and when. This is best done during the day, not with an irate phonecall when the dog wakes you up at two o’clock in the morning again. Assume she’s not aware of it, or at least not aware it’s disturbing to her neighbors.
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Barking is a completely natural behavior for dogs, but we humans don’t always appreciate it. In your dog’s mind, however, there’s a good reason to bark, so the first thing to do is figure out why she wants to bark in what you consider the most inappropriate times.
We tend to think of barking as a generally undesirable behavior. ln fact, there may be times when you want your dog to bark. lf you routinely walk or jog with your dog in areas where you might be accosted by unwelcome strangers, a controlled bark from your dog might serve as a useful deterrent. You know your dog is barking on cue, but the potential mugger doesn‘t, and likely assumes your dog‘s willing to back up his bark with a bite.
If you have a problem barker make an appointment with your veterinarian. Many vets have additional qualifications or a special interest in behavior, so it is worth asking whether one of the vets has a special interest in behavior. Often there are health conditions that could be exacerbating the problem, such as dementia, pain, vision or hearing problems.
To avoid this situation you need to leave a short or long line (as in the video above with the barking dog) on them so you can take control quickly and calmly when you need it. At the same time your dog still gets to run around.
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.
This is what’s generally known as “Separation Anxiety” because your dog after separation becomes anxious. I should add here that this stress results not only in barking, but can also manifest in destructive behaviour, chewing, injuring themselves, escaping, and excessive digging.
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Dogs also bark when they’re either too cold or too hot. Many people have the misconception that dogs’ fur keeps them warm in subzero weather; it’s not the case, unless the dog is a husky. If you’ve seen the dog shivering or looking miserable in the heat of the day, tell your neighbor the dog could be barking because its uncomfortable.
It may sound nonsensical, but the first step of this technique is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”
Your dog gets some kind of reward when he barks. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it. Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. Don’t give your dog the opportunity to continue the barking behavior.
As an example, think about barking when left alone. A dog that is very loud when left isn’t making a noise because he or she is being spiteful or wants to get you in trouble with your neighbours. The vocalization is an expression of the dog’s fear, loneliness and sometimes even panic. By strapping a device such as an electric shock collar to an upset dog, you don’t do anything to make them feel safer or more comfortable when left on their own – and what’s more, the pain confirm their fears that being left means horrible things happen to them (painful electric shocks occur every time they bark).