Tips on Dealing with Excessive Barking
Dogs bark. That is a fact we cannot change. It is their form of vocal communication after all. But sometimes dogs bark excessively and that can become a problem for a number of reasons. In this article we look at why they might be barking too much and what you can do.
What makes your dog bark
Dogs bark for many different reasons so here is a look at the more common ones.
Fear or feeling threatened – An understandable reason for barking is if your dog feels threatened or scared. This does not just happen when they are in their territory, it can trigger anywhere.
Protective mode – When a dog feels territorial of either their home or family it can trigger their barking. If that perceived threat gets closer they usually get louder.
Playfulness or saying hello – Dogs use their bark as a way to greet other animals or people. Often their tail will be wagging too and there may be some jumping.
Attention seeking – If your dog wants something i.e to go outside they will bark to get your attention.Advertisement
Separation anxiety – Some dogs are more prone to being anxious when you are away for long periods. They can then experience separation anxiety which can lead to compulsive barking. There are other symptoms to separation anxiety like depression, pacing, chewing and destroying things. If your dog has compulsive barking this can be indicated by making movements that seem repetitive like running up and down the back fence, or running in circles.
Being bored or lonely – Bored dogs can use barking as a way to relieve that boredom. Lonely dogs can become sad and express it in barking.
How to deal with Excessive Barking
Training your dog to bark less is going to take effort and consistency. This is not going to suddenly work the first time. You need to respond or work with your dog in a calm and firm manner. Shouting will lead to your dog barking more not less. You will need to train them to understand what the command word means. With time, the right techniques and patience you can train your dog to improve.
There are two approaches you could take, training him to stop barking when you say 'quiet' or training him to 'speak' when you say so then 'quiet' when you say.
For just the 'quiet' command tell him your command and then the moment he stops, even if it is just to breathe give him praise and a reward like a treat. Never reward when he is barking, only when he stops. Soon he will learn the word quiet means no barking and that he gets something positive from that. High level treats like chicken bits or pieces of cheese will make it worth it!
Or start teaching him to 'speak' and then when he has learned that introduce the 'quiet' command. You could also use a finger on the lips as dogs pick up body signals quicker. Keep practicing when he is calm.
Keep your dog well worked out both physically and mentally. A tired but happy dog is less likely to bark. Do not let the barking go on not dealt with. The longer a dog is allowed to behave badly the harder the excessive barking is to stop. Some medical reasons that may be a cause include a bee sting, pain, or a brain disease so have him checked by his vet. If your dog is old senior dogs can get canine senility that leads to excessive barking.
Know the reason to react accordingly
When you know why your dog is barking excessively you can react appropriately.
Fear/feeling threatened/protective mode – Limit what your dog can see outside. Put in a fenced yard using solid wood. Find a way to limit his access to windows and doors or cover them in a film that prevent him being able to see out.
Play or greeting – If barking becomes excessive when you come home or when the bell rings train him into different behavior like 'spot and stay'. Have him sit on a spot where they can see the front door but not too close. Teach him to spot and stay and keep practicing with treats and praise. Then move on to opening the door while he is there. When he will stay on his spot when the door opens you can move on to someone coming in and then the bell. With training and time you can teach him how to act. Do not reward him if he barks or comes to the door. Do not pet him or acknowledge him until he goes to his spot and is quiet. Then give him praise.
Separation anxiety and compulsive barking – These are difficult to train and you may need to consult an animal behaviorist and your vet.Advertisement
Seeking attention – Do not reward him by giving him what he wants when he barks. Give him a different option, like a bell on the door handle to ring when he wants to go out. Avoid scolding as to him that is still a form of attention. Ignore bad behavior and reward good.
Boredom/loneliness – Make sure there is something for him to do when you are gone. Avoid leaving dogs outside alone. Hire a dog walker or ask friends or family to come visit while you are gone. Consider putting them into a daycare for dogs a couple of times a week where they can also receive training.
There are collars sold to stop excessive barking but not all are effective and some dogs learn how to get around them. The ones that shock can also cause them to become more aggressive not less. There are off collar devices that can be effective like water sprayers in the yard that are bark activated, but they need to be re-reinforced with a reward when he stops.
Just remember to be consistent and persistent. Avoid using constraints like a muzzle for long periods to keep him quiet as it is not safe.