Is That Woof! Woof! Driving You Barking Mad!
The way that we express our anger or distress is by shouting, yelling or crying, and dogs are no different to us in this way. Although we do find a persistently barking dog quite an annoying experience, it is to be remembered that the dog concerned might be very unhappy. Barking for a dog may be very normal behaviour, a way for them to communicate, but when it’s done to excess it becomes a nuisance to everyone around.
However, it is a dog’s nature to guard and protect its home and family, so on occasions, barking is used as a warning to any danger they may feel is a threat.
Six Reasons Why Your Dog Might Want to Bark
#1. Fear: Dog’s can be frightened of noises, other dogs, people, places and things etc. If their ears are laid back and their tail is held down this is a sign of fear.
#2. Being Territorial/Protective: Just as we communicate with speech, a dog’s way is by barking. Being a pack animal, a dog will respond to a nearby dog barking, or to a threatened intruder, a letterbox flapping etc. Although it can be irritating to have a dog that reacts to every noise, however slight, it also can be very comforting if you’re home alone, just the two of you.
#3. Attention/Demand: If they want to go outside, food or drink, or just because they want to play.
#4. Health: Age-related deafness and dementia in older dogs may cause them to bark because not only can they not hear themselves, they become disoriented. This may require patience, a visit to the vet for some medication, and the use of ‘quiet’ hand signals.
#5. Boredom/Frustration: Your dog can’t pick up a book or jigsaw puzzle when they’re bored as we can. If you have to leave them, provide stimulus to keep their brain occupied and stop them from becoming bored, destructive and noisy. A Kong chew toy stuffed with treats is an ideal toy to stimulate them and keep them busy for a long time.
#6. Over Excitement: If your dog becomes too playful and barks at friends and family when they come, you could find yourself without any future visits from them.
Patience and Perseverance With Your Dog is Key
Because there are several reasons why a dog will bark excessively, it is important to discover what it is that starts the process and to put in place the correct training technique to overcome it. You could get a dog behaviourist to help you to deal with your dog barking problem, but it can with patience and perseverance, be accomplished by yourselves.
It is essential that there is consistency and that all of the family apply the same training when your dog barks at an inappropriate moment. If you shout at your dog to be quiet they just think that you’re joining in with them. Keep calm!
A dog wouldn’t bark unless, in their mind, they were getting some kind of reward for it, so you shouldn’t allow them to continue. Put a stop to it! Try to remove the motive for their barking, for example, if they are barking at people passing by, then close the curtains or put them in a different room so that they can’t see anyone going past. If they are barking in the garden, at another dog, the neighbours even the wind, take them in and remove them from the situation.
This is probably a hard one to do but will have the desired result. When your dog barks inappropriately, ignore them, don’t make eye contact, don’t talk to them and don’t touch them. Reward them when they stop and if they start again, ignore them again…they’ll eventually get the message but it could take a while. Don’t give up! You will win!
Tire Them Out
One of the best ways to avoid bad behaviour in your dog is to give them sufficient physical exercise for their breed and age. Plus plenty of mental activity in the form of games, interactive toys and chews. A busy dog is a happy and well-behaved dog.
Don’t make the mistake of buying an anti-bark collar, as it is never right, and can be cruel to use one. Anyway, these collars do not address the problem because they punish the dog for every bark when sometimes barking can be appropriate for a given situation. Your dog would not be able to determine when it would be the correct procedure to bark and when not to.
Remember… in every situation
Reward good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour.
Reward them when they are quiet and ignore them when they bark.