There is a huge array of ’tools’ on the market that claim to stop nuisance barking in dogs and offer a quick fix. These include spray or electric shock collars, compressed air sprays, rattle cans and other devices, whose main function is to startle, scare, cause pain or discomfort to a barking dog in an effort to teach him that barking brings unpleasant consequences.
Be patient. It takes a lot of training and practice to get your dog comfortable with prolonged absences. Most of an anxious dog’s undesirable behavior will take place within the first 40 minutes that you’re gone, and it will take many, many training sessions before you can comfortably reach a 40 minute absence.
It’s always important to consider the alternatives to no-bark collars, such as traditional disciplinary measures, or other means which avoid inflicting physical or emotional pain or stress on the dog. If it’s possible, it’s best to discipline dogs in this way, as we’re sure you’ve seen on various episodes of the Dog Whisperer, rather than to cause any unnecessary suffering by using a no-bark dog collar.
Your dog probably has separation anxiety, as you must have noticed by now. When you have time, try training your dog by leaving the house for short periods of time (e.g., 2-4 min) and then gradually increasing the time. Eventually your dog will realize that every time you leave, you will always return.
Customizing a training solution for your dog’s specific type of bark will make it much easier to stop, and in some cases, prevent the barking from happening. The following tips are a mix of management solutions, which are easier to implement, as well as training suggestions, which require more time and dedication on your part.
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.
This is caused by either an “I want to get to you but can’t” situation, such as when your dog is in another room from you; also known as ‘frustration-related barking’. Or, the dogs is saying, “GO AWAY, you scare me”; also known as ‘fear-related barking’.
If your dog most often barks territorially in your yard, keep him in the house during the day and supervise him when he’s in the yard so that he can’t just bark his head off when no one’s around. If he’s sometimes able to engage in excessive alarm barking (when you’re not around, for example), that behavior will get stronger and harder to reduce.
Attention-seeking: When you hear this bark, you will usually know just what it means. This bark says “Hey! Hey! Look! Here I am!” Other dogs may whine and bark together to get attention, almost like the tone of a whining child.
Recognize separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can take various forms in a dog, but the most common signs of separation anxiety are destroying the house/apartment and barking incessantly. These behaviors are typically only engaged in when the dog’s owner is at work or otherwise out of the house, and if the dog is not destructive, some owners may not even be aware that their dogs have separation anxiety. Common signs of separation anxiety to look out for include:
Did know that if 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?
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Take a moment to think about how you react when your dog barks to get your attention. Do you raise your voice, shout, or tell them off for it? If so, stop. When you meet your dog’s barking with noise and attention, you are rewarding your dog by giving them the attention they are asking for.
If your dog barks inappropriately, it is important to start by setting yourself a realistic goal. Planning for your dog to stop barking completely is not realistic – barking is a natural dog behaviour and dogs will bark – more or less, and largely depending on the breed – whether we want it or not. You can reduce the amount of barking, but stopping it will never be possible.
We tried all available training, including a trainer to no avail, he was surprised that the dog barked so much. Our roommates dog barks all the time, except while sleeping. She only sleeps a few hours, max 4 hours at a time and is back at it again. She barks loudly at full volume while playing, running, walking on leash, while we prep food for ourselves or the other dogs, she barks at toys with toys in her mouth, she barks while digging in the back yard, barks at us on or off the furniture, sitting standing, literally everything. I had to start wearing ear plugs to sleep and during the day when I’m home. If someone comes in she follows them through the house barking full volume. Attention, lack of attention does not matter. She barks at birds, squirrels, leaves. She will sit in the back yard and wait for the roof vent (whirlybird) to spin in the wind and bark at it. We have tried ultrasonic, citrinela, and static collars. She barks through all of them. The static one keeps her volume down. It was hard when she was spayed because she was supposed to stay calm and quiet. She ended up pulling stitches from barking even while medicated. We have tried vitamins, herble remidies for anxiety, and settled on the static collar. It lowers the volume of her barking so we can at least sleep. Happy hyper dog.
Matthijs B.H. Schilder and Joanne A.M. van der Borg studied behavioral effects of electric shock collars and came to the conclusion that shocked dogs showed more stress-related behavior than the control dogs — dogs controlled via human discipline instead of no-bark collars — the shocked dogs connected their handlers with getting shocks, and may even connect orders given by their handlers with getting shocked. What does this mean? Schilder and Borg conclude that, while they have not proven that the long-term welfare of the shocked dogs is affected, it is clearly under serious threat.