What To Do When Dog Barking Is Getting Excessive
Dog barking happens for a number of reasons, and it can be frustrating to have to listen to him, especially if you don’t understand why he’s doing it. There are a couple of the smaller breeds which are especially well known for this trait – just because he’s a tiny dog, it doesn’t necessarily mean a tiny bark. It can almost seem as he loves the sound of his own voice, but beware, yelling at a noisy dog will only confuse matters.
Reasons Why Dogs Bark
The first step in tackling the problem of barking is to find the reason why your dog insists on rattling your eardrums, then you will be ready and able to decide on the best method of training.
So let’s look at a few reasons why your pooch feels that he has to make all that din.
Your Dog May Be Bored
Barking is an easy yet effective way for a dog to get attention, so he often uses it to let you know when he wants something. If your dog barks whilst you are preparing his food, he’s trying to tell you to go faster, and you soon reward him with a bowl of meat.
Perhaps he wants to be let out of the back door into the yard, he barks and you respond by opening the door. The cycle continues, your needy dog grabs your attention by barking and you reward him with what he desires.
Your Dog May Be Scared
Frightened dogs bark. Instinct tells a canine to bark at what frightens him. It’s a loud, clear, vocal signal, meaning stay away or keep back. In the wild, barking is used as a warning signal to other dogs and animals to back off or face further aggression. Such a warning can be increased by the showing of teeth and raising of fur on the neck. Think about it – a wild animal showing his teeth would be scary, right? That’s exactly why your dog does what he does – it’s for his protection.
In a domestic situation, your dog may be barking at something he perceives as a danger or threat, such as noisy children on bikes, strangers behaving in a particular way, horses; the list is endless. Next time you’re out and your dog starts barking, try to figure out exactly what it is that bothers him.
Protecting His Territory
Your dog may be, instinctively protecting his territory. Does he bark when a stranger opens the front gate or approaches the front door? He may even react if a passer-by is on the sidewalk outside your house. All that noise is his way of saying “this is my area and you are not welcome.” What your pet views as his territory may not be restricted to just your house and garden. Your car, either moving or stationary, is an area well worth protecting. In traffic, your doggy friend may feel that other road users are pushing their luck by getting too close.
A park bench that you are sat on, or the spot that you are picnicking in, can be viewed as temporary territory, and your dog may feel the need guard it.
Sometimes your dog isn’t just trying to protect himself – in a lot of cases, he’s trying to protect you and your family. Remember, a dog is a man’s best friend!
Solving Excessive Barking
So how exactly do you tackle that excessive barking? There are several ways – it’s up to you to use and adapt the methods to best suit yourself and your pet.
Ignore The Barking
If your dog is barking at you for your attention, simply ignoring the noise can prove very effective. Pay him no attention and do not reward him. It will take a long time because he is used to being rewarded for all that barking – rewarding isn’t always the best idea for you as a dog owner. You wouldn’t want to continuously give treats out – it’s too inconvenient! His first reaction may be to bark more and initially he will be confused. Eventually, he will try other ways to attract your attention, such as pawing or staring into your eyes – either like a menacing devil or an upset little boy! The key to success is perseverance and persistence. If you make one change, then everything you’ve done would have been wasted.
Train Him Not to Bark With Rewards
The opposite to the previous method – sometimes rewarding can be effective. Try teaching your dog a new command such as ‘quiet,’ and hold a bag of treats whilst he is barking, wait until he stops, and give him a treat – reinforce the silence by calmly saying the command word. Repeat the process.
It’s often useful to instruct your dog to lie down when you are training him not to bark. One it’s a good distraction tactic and two, you may have noticed that it is natural for a dog to stand up and bark when he’s lying down it’s not quite as easy for him. Think about it – you wouldn’t enjoy doing something you regularly do in an unnatural position, like eating food while lying on your stomach.
Remove Barking Triggers
For a territorial dog, you can try removing the trigger factors. If your dog stands on a chair in order to look out of the window, simply move the chair. Alternatively, draw the curtains or shut the blind. Likewise for doorways – block the view with the aid of a beaded curtain. Fix that squeaky gate, and he’ll be unaware that the postman is walking up the garden path.
Barking when a stranger knocks at or enters the main door isn’t necessarily a bad thing – some owners encourage this and view it as an effective deterrent against burglars and other uninvited guests. If you feel that you don’t require that extra protection, try using the voice command training.
If your dog is barking at something he is afraid of, you can try distancing yourselves from whatever scares him. Reassure him, give him a tasty treat and praise him before he even gets a chance to bark. Back up this action with a calm voice command and you can gradually move closer to the triggers, all the while praising him and offering treats.