Who among us hasn’t smiled at our dogs howling at the sound of a ﬁre truck siren speeding past? The howl, which sometimes speaks of a dog’s distress, is also a communal conversation. Dogs often howl in groups, and some owners delight in teaching their dogs to howl on cue, by howling – or singing – themselves. “Group howl” is a popular activity of wild dogs, and of many humans around the campﬁre at dog camps. Try it – you and your dog might enjoy it!
The next step in “Go to Your Spot” training is to recruit friends and family to help you conduct mock practice visits. Arrange to have someone come to the door. You will work with your dog to help him stay on his own. Be prepared! This will probably take a long time the first few visits. When you open the door, one of two things can happen. Sometimes you leave your dog there on his spot while you talk to the person at the door, as if your visitor is a courier or delivery person. Your dog never gets to say hello. (However, you, the person or both of you should frequently toss treats to your dog to reward him for staying.) At other times, invite the visitor in. Wait until the person sits down somewhere, and then release your dog to join you and your guest. When you have a friend help you with a mock visit, be sure to repeat the scenario over and over, at least 10 to 20 times. Practice makes perfect! Have the person come in for 5 to 10 minutes or just pretend to deliver something, then leave for 5 to 10 minutes, then return for a second visit, and on. Your dog should experience at least 10 visits in a row with the same person. With each repetition, it will become easier for him to do what you expect because he’ll be less excited by the whole routine—especially when it’s the same person at the door, over and over again.
Whines and whimpers are usually related to stress and/or excitment. Some breeds of dogs seem to whine more than others – German Shepherds, for example, seem especially prone to whining. Often this behavior persists because it’s reinforced by the natural human tendency to comfort a whining puppy. Like demand barking, it’s best to ignore whining and reinforce quiet. However, because it’s often stress-induced, if your dog’s a whiner, you might want to evaluate his environment to see if you can reduce the stressors in his world.
Now add stay into your exercise. Stand next to your dog’s spot. Ask him to sit or lie down, say “Stay” and wait one second. Then say “Yes!” or “Good!” and give him a treat. After you deliver the treat, say “Okay” to release your dog from the stay and encourage him to get off the spot. Repeat this sequence at least 10 times per training session. Progressively increase from one second to several seconds, but vary the time so that sometimes you make the exercise easy (a shorter stay) and sometimes you make it hard (a longer stay). If your dog starts to get up before you say “Okay,” say “Uh-uh!” or “Oops!” and immediately ask him to sit or lie down on his spot again. Then make the exercise a little easier the next few times by asking your dog to hold the stay for a shorter time. Avoid pushing your dog to progress too fast or testing him to see how long he can hold the stay before getting up. This sets your dog up to fail. You want him to be successful at least 8 out of 10 times in a row.
Correct your dog when they bark by giving them a stern look, making a loud, sharp sound, or physically touching your dog to distract them. Keep correcting if the dog starts barking again and do this consistently and repeatedly until they stop.
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The noise that comes out of this box is not only worse than the sound of barking it also makes the dog bark, at which time the tone goes off again and repeat…. The thing goes off for ever the dog barks for ever.
If your dog is barking due to stress, fear, or anxiety, consult with a qualified professional behavior counselor who uses positive modification methods, and try to manage your dog’s environment to minimize his exposure to stressors while you work on a program to counter-condition and desensitize him.
Chewing causes the release of happy hormones in dogs, so giving your dog something to chew as you leave the house is a good routine to get into. If your dog tends to bury things or is reluctant to chew, just give a small amount of breakfast, so your dog is hungry enough to want to chew. Use something large such as a pigs ear or Kong® stuffed with treats so it lasts for a while. You can also put dry food into an old plastic drink bottle, and let your pet work to get the food out. For some great ideas for homemade chew toys check out this article on The Bark Post.
What seems like excessive shedding can be normal for some dogs, but it can also be the result of stress, poor nutrition or a medical problem. Your veterinarian can best determine if your dog’s hair loss is part of the normal shedding process or is a symptom of an underlying disorder. Excessive shedding can sometimes be prevented through proper nutrition. Quality pet-food manufacturers work hard to include the right amount of nutrients so that supplements are not needed, but dogs with allergies and/or sensitivities still might need to experiment with different brands and formulations to discover which food works best for them. We recommend that you consult your veterinarian for advice on what foods will best suit your dog.
Find your dog’s trigger, give your “Speak!” cue, then elicit the bark. (If you want the bark to eventually ward off potential accosters, select a cue that will make sense in that context, such as “Stop!” or “Leave me alone!”)
One of the main benefits of the human-canine partnership is a dog’s natural ability to alert. You could say the talent for barking and guarding earned that first furry friend a place by the fire with our ancestors.
Talk to your neighbors and explain to them about your condition and see if they can come up with a solution first. If this doesn’t help, you may have to call law enforcement. If it is affecting your quality of life, this should be taken seriously.
Punishment is generally frowned upon in the veterinary behavior community, but at least in this case the punishment is not too traumatic and it does help your dog not to do the behavior. In some cases where you have received noise complaints from the neighbours, it can be a quick fix. The citronella collar and shock collar are two devices that punish the bark and are unreliable and can lead to learned helplessness. They can go off randomly while the dog is not barking and even when they work correctly, the dog usually has no idea what he is receiving punishment for.
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.
If your dog isn’t house-safe, use crates, exercise pens, a professional dog walker (or volunteer one – you’d be amazed at how many people would like to walk a dog, but not own one!), lots of exercise, even doggie daycare to keep him out of trouble, until he earns house privileges. You can also enrich the dog’s environment, by giving him interactive toys such as food-stuffed Kong toys that keep his brain engaged and his mouth busy.
Dogs bark because they are dogs, they bark to alert to danger or for attention. Many bark for food. They bark because they are happy, fearful, sad, anxious, frustrated, going deaf, scared or hurt. They howl at the sirens. Some howl at the moon. Some dogs bark to hear themselves bark and many bark because they are under stimulated and bored. There are so many reasons a dog could be barking. There are even dogs who bark because the sky is blue. Some dogs bark more than others. I am sure by now you get the idea. Dogs bark for lots of reasons. To help your dog, it really helps to get to the root of why your dog is barking and what they are barking it, and most importantly, what you may be doing to contribute.
Doglover, totally agree with you and do what you have to. Our quality of life has been ruined for 10 years by our dogs barking. We had one dog and he barked incesently whenever I went out so we got him a companion dog, didn’t work, they both bark! The dogs are walked away from home every day and we have 7 acres of land at home they can go on, I only go out for about 4 hours a day (I have a right to a life!) and when we come home, bark bark bark, and when people visit bark bark bark, and when there is anything outside or a noise. Yep, bark bark bark etc etc etc. I’ve tried professional training – not effective if we’re out obviously, ultra sonic collars. Rubbish, spray collars. Ok but only about 50% and not when we come back home, barks right through the citronella spraying! Bark bark bark and very loud! So now, at my wits end, I’ve just ordered 2 static shock collars. We have lived in this stressful situation for too long so as not to put the dogs under stress! But enough is bloody enough now. Lets hope it works. You must do what is right for you and your situation Doglover and accept that there will always be people expressing opinions about everything, both good and bad, but they are not living your life and dealing with the stuff you are. So find what works for you and your dog, don’t make the mistake of discussing it with other people as that just elicits opinions which may not be nice or productive and good luck.
Meet your neighbor in person. Hand-written notes can be ignored and don’t lead to a dialogue. Communicating the issues you’re having with your neighbor’s dog is key. If you find that they are new dog owners and don’t have much experience, you can point them to helpful training guides like this one or recommend a local trainer.