Grumbles and growls can have several meanings. Some dogs grumble and growl in enjoyment at a butt-scratch or body massage. More often, a growl is an important warning – “I don’t like you (or whatever you’re doing); please stop!” (See “Understand Why Your Dog Growls,” October 2005.)
You may have heard the suggestion that if you put a behavior such as barking on cue and have it under good stimulus control, the dog then won’t bark unless give him the cue to speak. Here are the four rules of stimulus control:
Provide door drills. Ringing the bell, knocking on the door, and arrivals or departures excite puppies or sometimes scare shy pups, so associate the location and sounds with good things for the puppy. Stage arrivals at the front door with an accomplice “visitor” loaded up with treats to toss the pup to help her stop seeing visitors as threats.
My year and a half old lab barks only when she goes out in the yard. She will sit by the door to ask to go out and a few seconds later she is barking her head off. I then call her back inside so she doesn’t disturb the neighbors. I have trained her to respond to the come command and when she does I give her a little treat. I am worried that now she is barking so I will call her in and give her a treat. But that is the only way I know how to stop her from barking right now. What do you suggest I do instead of the come command with a treat?
First of all, it’s important that you don’t get mad at the dog, as tempting as that may be. The dog is just being a dog and doing what dogs do. Instead, go to your neighbor directly. They may not be aware that there is a problem if the dog barks while they are away at work or out of the house, or they may already know the barking is an issue and are trying to work on it. Don’t make assumptions or accusations, and approach after you’ve had time to cool down.
Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking: Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone. They also usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructiveness, depression, and inappropriate elimination. Compulsive barkers seem to bark just to hear the sound of their voices. They also often make repetitive movements as well, such as running in circles or along a fence.
Dogs tend to act up when they get bored. To eliminate barking from boredom or frustration, make sure your pup is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. Click here to see 5 great ways you can stimulate your dog.
Once your dog can be comfortably left alone for 90 minutes, she will most likely be able to handle four to eight hours of solitude. However, in the early stages of that comfort level, it’s best to “test” your dog at four hours of solitude, rather than jumping right to a full work day (if possible).
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.
past bad words, and let her know you’d like to help with her dog’s barking, if you can. Even short of doing actual behavior modiﬁcation, offers to let her dog play with yours (if they’re compatible) or taking her dog for walks (if you can safely manage the dog) may enrich the dog’s environment and provide enough exercise to reduce or eliminate the barking.
Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.
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.
Boredom: Do you ever sing or talk to yourself when you’re bored? Your dog may do the same thing. The reason we often see the boredom bark is when dogs are left outside for long periods of time. We all know that dogs are pack animals and want to be near you. When they are left alone, they often occupy their time by barking.
Remember, barking is natural! It’s an important means of communication for dogs. But sometimes problems can develop. As the pack leader, it’s your job to step in and control excessive barking. Here are my 5 tips to help you stop nuisance barking for good.
The standard dog training go to answer is to put an unwanted behavior on cue. By teaching your dog, a behavior it should only come out when you cue it. For dogs that have a lot to say (Finney!) this really helps get the edge off. My favorite reason to teach a dog to bark on cue is that at the same time we teach the “enough” or “stop” or whatever you choose to call it cue. Most of us think our dogs understand what they are saying. Often they do not.
The dog might still be able to sense your presence by hearing or smelling you, so if barking persists, it may be time to introduce yourself to the pup so it knows you’re not a threat. Ask your neighbor if you can meet their dog and make friends. If the dog doesn’t see you as an intruder anymore, it may not feel the need to bark when you’re around.
In case this strategy doesn’t work, the only option you have is to invest in sound-proofing your home, or consider moving away, so it’s best to hope you have a neighbor who is willing to train their dog.