Barking Mad: How and what to do about dogs who bark excessively.
We’ve all heard of the frustrations that happen with unruly, barking dogs. This issue can be a problem for the owners and everyone around, including the dog. Excessively barking dogs day in day out are not happy dogs and are possibly showing signs of stress. Dogs bark for a reason, it is one of their ways to communicate and it is our job to help the dog to be calm and happy. The first thing we need to do is to find out why the dog is barking excessively, then we can find a solution.
Why is your dog barking so much?
If there is an excessively barking dog it maybe trying to communicate a problem? Does he have easy access to food, water and shelter? Is it too hot or cold, does he have shelter from the wind, sun the rain, etc?
Dogs are happier if they have a purpose in their lives. Boredom can create a barking habit. Loneliness and attention seeking or improper confinement on a chain or cage can cause barking dogs. Does the offending dog have enough interaction and freedom to run and play?
Fear of storms, fireworks, snakes, strange environments, etc. can cause barking as he can become anxious. Anxiety and separation problems in dogs have many causes. Has there been a change in routine? Are you accidentally contributing to his anxiety with too much affection and attention at the wrong time and place? Positive reinforcement at the wrong time. Are you accidentally rewarding the dog for incorrect behaviour? Protection by barking and alerting us to intruders are one of the reasons people often get a dog. Many dogs are specifically bred for protection and then we wonder why the dog barks excessively.
The Breed type has a significant effect on a dog’s behaviour, including excessive barking. Some breeds of dogs are more likely to bark than others. Obedience and structure in the dog’s life, or the lack of, will contribute to excessive barking as the dog has no idea of the right or wrong behaviour required.Play and excitement can trigger barking. Are they happy to see someone, or maybe playing a high-level energy game?Triggers from other dogs barking, a prey animal insight, sirens, etc. often set dogs barking. The longer we let the barking habit develop the harder it may be to control.
Once you determine the reason your dog is barking excessively then we can develop a solution to benefit you and your dog. It is wise to choose your preferred Breed carefully as some dogs are more likely to bark than others. In any case with training, we can usually modify their innate desires to an acceptable level to suit our lifestyle.
Choose a dog that will fit in with your lifestyle.
High energy working breeds for example may not be suitable to leave in a small backyard. However, some other dogs are happy to laze about all day and are seemingly happy if you just feed, water and pat them. Choose an energy level in your dog to suit your lifestyle.
Walking, running swimming, games, training, etc. will relieve pent-up frustration. Please do not expect your dog to exercise itself by leaving it in the backyard. Have fun and grow that bond between you, it is great for your health and wellbeing too. You will have better communication, obedience and less barking with the positive benefits for you and your dog.
Obedience assists in communication with your dog. Your bond will increase and will also help with any anxiety issues. You can teach “bark” on command or “Quite”. Obedience will provide part of the solution to most dog behaviour problems.
Dealing with Fear
Fear in dogs can cause barking. A desensitization and counterconditioning programme with a qualified and experienced dog trainer will assist with confidence building.
Physical and Mental Health
Your dog must have reliable access to food, water and shelter. Equally important is company and interaction with people and other dogs with enough room to move and have fun. Your barking dog maybe telling you it is lonely.
Boredom issues may be resolved in a multitude of ways. Employing a dog walker or trainer is a great idea as you get a well-trained dog and your dog is kept happy too. While you are at work your dog’s long day can be broken up with interaction. Research ways to keep your dog entertained while you are away. There are many toys and mind interactive games that you can set to keep him physically and mentally active.
Doggy Day Care
Utilise a with a reputable organisation. This helps to socialize him or her and keep him busy too. If this option available to you there are many benefits for your dog including they will be exhausted from their day’s activities and too tired to bark.
Anxiety and Separation
There are many causes for Anxiety and separation. Rule out medical problems with your veterinarian who may also prescribe medication for your dog. Medication may mask the problem but may not solve the root cause. Consulting a professional dog behaviorist will help in finding a cause and a solution. A combination of medical and specialist behaviour may even be necessary.
What is it that sets the dog of on a barking tirade? Does the mail bike, children, certain people or situations, etc. set your dog off barking? Obedience training, removal of the dog to these situations, counter conditioning and corrections are part of this solution.
Interrupt the Behaviour
Using a squirt bottle of water or vinegar or the use of a bonker (rolled up towel to startle the dog, not hit) will provide a negative consequence for the barking behaviour. If done correctly and consistently this will lessen the barking considerably. The timing of your correction is imperative for effectiveness and deterring the barking dog. It is wise to consult a dog behaviourist to assist with this type of control.
This quick and effective solution that does not have the negative consequences for your dog as some may have you believe. The message to stop barking is very clear to the dog and may only take one or two corrections that can be set to the dog’s sensitivity level. This tool is especially effective for dogs that bark only when you are away. Carefully choose the collar you use as some punish the dog even when they are not barking. For example, the citronella collar and ultrasonic collars punish the offending barking dog and any other dogs around even if the dog is not barking. This can lead to confusion and shut down from the dog. It is not a clear message to the dog that his barking caused the lingering smell of the citronella. As you know, a dog is super sensitive to smell and to continue punishing the dog after the dog has stopped barking is unfair and possibly cruel.
Rewarding Bad Behaviour
Do yell at your dog every time it is barking? Your dog may think you are also joining in the ‘bark’. You may be giving the wrong attention to your dog at the wrong time which reinforces the barking. Sometimes our dogs have us trained better than we know. If the offending dog gets attention from the owner when he is barking then the behaviour may be reinforced. It maybe even be a case of some attention is better than no attention. In this case going mad on them and yelling may not help.
Most people do not mind the occasional barking but excessive, and seemingly for no good reason barking can drive most people up the wall. Addressing the cause and then finding the solution to your dog’s excessive barking will make a happier dog and all those around too.
For further assistance and professional advice on how to cope with barking dogs contact us. Happy training and fun with your dog is our ultimate goal.