By Linda Cole
Like us, dogs use their voice to convey intentions and express how they are feeling. Barking is as natural to canines as talking is to us, and expecting a dog to never use his voice is an unreasonable expectation. However, that doesn’t mean you should allow him to bark nonstop. Never punish a dog for barking, and don’t yell at him because that will only escalate the barking. There are more effective ways to get your dog to stop barking excessively.
The first thing you need to do is understand why your dog is barking. A few weeks ago, I covered how to correct frustration, demand, and boredom barking. This article deals with correcting four more types of problem barking: alarm, excitement, territorial, and anxiety barking.
Sometimes what a dog perceives as danger isn’t, but to him it is a serious threat and his “Timmy’s in trouble” bark is meant to get your attention. Your dog thinks something isn’t right so he’s alerting you, his leader, to come investigate. Most of the time there’s nothing to be concerned about, but you need to go see why your dog is barking because he could be alerting you to a brewing problem, like smoke coming from the kitchen or someone prowling around outside.
A dog in alarm mode will often jump forward a bit each time he barks and it’s obvious he feels threatened by something. Never ask your dog to stop barking until you’ve checked to see why he’s upset.
How to correct – The fix to stopping alarm barking, after you’ve determined there’s nothing wrong, is to use a distraction to refocus his attention. Give him a command to sit or lie down to help him calm down. Reinforce his quiet behavior with some CANIDAE Grain Free Pure Chewy training treats, and praise him for alerting you to possible danger.
This happy bark is used to greet other people or dog friends. His body is relaxed, and a wagging tail indicates he’s happy and excited. Some dogs whine when greeting someone they are fond of.
How to correct – Stopping excitement barking is pretty easy. You don’t let your dog get what he wants by barking. When you pick up his leash and he starts to bark – put it back and sit down until he’s quiet. It won’t take long for him to figure out what you want. If he’s barking when you walk through the door, ignore him until he quiets down. Don’t reward a barking dog with attention, treats or praise for behavior you don’t want. Wait until he’s quiet and then give him what he wants. He will be calmer when he isn’t barking.
Bonding and trust are important in any relationship. Because dogs are social animals, they want and need to be with their family. Unfortunately, some canines have a hard time coping when separated from their owner, and they can develop separation anxiety. This type of excessive barking often has a high pitched pleading whine mixed in. The more he barks, the more anxious he can become. However, if he isn’t showing other symptoms associated with separation anxiety, like being destructive, having accidents inside, pacing or showing depression, it’s not separation anxiety your dog is dealing with. He could be trying to tell you he’s in pain, hungry or bothered by something else.
How to correct – Dealing with a dog with serious separation anxiety can be difficult to address on your own. Your best course of action is to call a qualified animal behaviorist trained to deal with anxiety disorders. Have your pet checked out by a vet to make sure there’s no medical issue, and look at the environment he’s in when home alone to make sure it’s an area where he can be comfortable. It takes patience and commitment to change unwanted behavior.
For some dogs, protecting their turf requires a series of fierce barks and intimidating lungs as they charge the fence to let any intruder know they mean business. When the doorbell rings, the dog rushes to the door barking frantically. If he’s in his enclosure or looking out a window, people or other dogs walking by are warned to stay away. In a dog’s mind, his behavior is reinforced each time an intruder passes on by because he feels it was his warning barks that drove them away.
How to correct – When the doorbell rings, train your dog to go to a specific place to sit or lie down. Practice by having someone ring the doorbell while you take your dog to his spot and reward him for staying quiet. A dog charging the fence or barking from a window perceives a threat even though there isn’t one. The easy fix is to restrict his exposure to whatever triggers his barking. If people walk their dogs by your house in the afternoon, keep your dog inside. Pull the curtains to keep your dog from looking out the window. Another option is to stay calm and begin giving treats before someone reaches the spot where your dog starts barking. Ask him to sit and have him focus on you. By staying calm, you’re teaching him that you don’t see any threat.