My Barking Dog is Driving Me Crazy!  

Posted by — Kim in , , , , , , , , , ,

Here's a great article that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it interesting! –Kim

9 Tips to Help Solve Your Problem

Dogs bark for a number of reasons. It can be out of excitement when playing or to warn that an intruder is on the premises. This barking is perfectly normal and we humans expect it.

But when your dog continually barks, this can cause problems not only for your own household, but often creates tension within your neighborhood. Some cities and towns have noise ordinances and an incessantly barking dog may bring the police or animal control to your door issuing a warning or possibly a ticket. What should you do?

First, isolate the cause of the excessive barking. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my dog lonely and frustrated, and seeking attention through their only voice – barking?
  • Is my dog left alone for long periods of time without toys, chews or other ways to keep her occupied?
  • Is my dog a puppy or adolescent (up to 3 years old) with no other way to expel excess energy?
  • Is my dog a breed that needs a job to be happy (herding, hunting or sporting dog)?
If you think one of these is the cause of your dog's relentless barking, there are options to help deter this unwanted behavior.

Here are some suggestions for the lonely or bored dog:
  1. Increase the amount and quality of time you spend with your dog by walking him every day for 20-30 minutes. Just a jaunt around the neighborhood often will help dispel some extra energy. It's also an excellent way to begin or end the human work day.
  2. Train your dog to fetch a ball or FRISBEE and play with her for 10-15 minutes in the morning and in the evening. Get up a little earlier to help your dog behave better.
  3. Get your dog some busy toys where you can hide treats or freeze peanut butter inside to give him something to do while you're away. Alternate the toys so your dog thinks he's getting something new each day.
  4. Spend 5-15 minutes petting, brushing or scratching your dog. This is also a great way to discover potential problems like bumps, sores or hot spots.
  5. If possible, take your dog to work with you for part of the day. Take toys, too.
  6. Find a doggie day care and take her for the day. Often, one time per week will help with boredom or loneliness.
  7. Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to come by and take your dog on a walk, play for 10-15 minutes or just love on him.
  8. Hire someone to walk your dog daily or a couple times per day. Often, there's a teenager who would love to walk your dog.
  9. For herding or sporting dogs, she needs a job or she becomes destructive and depressed. Get her a "Good Citizen" badge and go to hospices, hospitals or nursing homes. Watch your dog glow and grin while she's learning her job and when she's working.
Another reason your dog may be barking is to protect his territory. This is a basic instinct, but when it becomes too aggressive, re-conditioning is required to have a happy neighborhood. Please refrain from punishing your dog for barking. This will only make him fearful and won't solve the core issue. Train your dog to be "quiet" on command or bark a couple of times and then sit or lay down to quietly protect his territory.

To train your dog, begin by filling a coffee can with pennies or nuts and bolts about ¼ to ½ full. Put some cheese cubes, meat or some other special treat in your pocket. (Try to make the treat more interesting than the barking.) Go outside with your dog and watch her without letting her know you're watching.

When your dog barks at a passerby, allow 2 to 3 barks and then shake the can of nuts/bolts/pennies. This new noise serves as a distraction and he'll stop barking. As soon as he stops barking, say in a very happy voice "good quiet" and give him a treat. Stay outside for a while (some dogs are trained in only 3-4 can shaking/treat giving times and others it takes 20). Repeat this process with every passerby until your dog barks a couple of times and then stops on her own.

NOTE: If the can shaking scares your dog (they jump out of their skin), distract them by throwing a ball or other toy which will also stop the barking. Say "good quiet" and pop that treat into his mouth. Repeat for as long as it takes until he's the superstar of the neighborhood.

Another training process is to get your stash of special treats and can of pennies/nuts/bolts or a toy (don't let your dog see any of these) and go outside to where your dog typically stands when she's barking. Have a friend that your dog doesn't know walk by your yard starting at a position where your dog isn't barking yet. Have your friend walk normally closer and closer to your dog's territory.

Once your dog starts barking, shake the can/throw the toy/ball to distract her and the barking stops. Immediately say "good quiet" and pop that tasty treat into her mouth. Repeat this process until your dog makes the connection between being quiet when strangers come near her area and being rewarded. Distraction/re-focusing, praise and treats work wonders.

Be patient. Most importantly, be consistent. Use the same command and body language every time. Dogs read cues from their human and when it's the same, the training works faster and will last longer.

If your dog barks from inside the house when strangers come close, block his ability to see outside. When he does bark from inside, call him to you (distraction), say "good quiet" and give him a treat. Conditioning takes time so be patient.

NOTE: Don't encourage your dog to bark at things they see or hear. Also, don't deliberately tease your dog thereby conditioning her to bark. If your dog is barking at seemingly nothing, there may be other health related issues that need a Veterinarian's care.

Another reason your dog may be barking is out of fear. If her ears are laid back and her tail is held low, she's afraid of something. This could be a loud noise (thunder), construction equipment, people yelling/arguing, the vacuum or fireworks.

You can desensitize your dog to loud noises by purchasing a CD of thunderstorms and play it while doing regular household chores or sitting around reading. The sound combined with the human acting normally tells your dog that this loud, unfamiliar noise is not a threat. You can also block out your dog's line of sight which may or may not help depending on the sensitivity level of your unique dog.

Your dog may also bark due to separation anxiety, displayed most often by barking beginning shortly after you leave (10-45 minutes). Separation anxiety can be seen through behaviors such as anxious activity when you're preparing to leave, following you from room to room and frantic welcome home greetings.

Your dog may also be anxious due to a change in their normal routine such as a move, loss of a family member (human or canine), being left alone for longer than normal or after a stay at a kennel or animal shelter. Do not punish your dog for being anxious. This is a panic response and punishment will only worsen the problem.

Don't use bark collars, because essentially they are a punishment for your dog using their only voice – barking. Bark collars also don't often work. The citronella collars are triggered by barking but can also go off if in the proximity of other noises unnecessarily spraying your dog. Sound wave collars do not have a high success rate and shock collars are simply cruel.

Keep in mind your dog's barking is their way of communicating something is going on, "Please listen to me." Your job, as their human, is to teach him when it's appropriate to use his voice and when to be quiet. Never, ever punish your dog for barking. Simply re-condition him to speak only when absolutely necessary.

As always, consult with your Veterinarian or veterinary technician if you have questions or concerns.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at Tuesday, May 05, 2009 and is filed under , , , , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .



Kim, this was really helpful information! Please feel free to post more like this. Thanks!

May 15, 2009 at 1:49 AM

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