Just as people will talk, dogs will bark. Some, however, do, more talking than others—by that we mean both dogs, and their owners. While it’s normal for dogs to bark, some bark excessively and that often leads to problems at home. If this is the case at your home, it’s important to figure out what the cause is. Once you determine the cause, you can determine a solution.
When dogs bark it’s their way of communicating vocally. Each bark has a different meaning that depends entirely on the situation your dog is in. Here are several reasons why dogs bark:
Protecting His Territory–Dogs often bark excessively when a person or animal comes into an area that your dog considers to be his “territory.” We’ll use the example of the mailman. When the mailman gets closer to your house, you’ll know because your dogs barking will become louder and more aggressive. You can lessen this type of barking by limiting what your dog sees. If your dog spends a lot of time in the yard, make sure your dog cannot see through the fence. When your dog is inside the house, limit his access to doors and windows. Keep doors closed if possible and pull the blinds closed if necessary.
Noise–When your dog is startled by a noise that catches their attention they will bark. Their barking isn’t limited to just noises at home, it can happen anywhere. You might notice this if you take your dog on vacation with you.
Loneliness–Dogs are pack animals that need and enjoy companionship. When you leave your dog alone for a long period of time, he may bark because he is unhappy. If your dog barks because he is lonely, it’s up to you to provide your dog with stimulation to keep him happy. He might enjoy a new toy or even a new companion to ward off his loneliness. If neither of these work as a solution you may need to hire someone to walk your dog, or you might consider a doggy day care.
Saying Hello!–Dogs bark and wag their tails as a greeting. When they’re happy, you’ll know by the sound of their bark. While this is a good thing, you don’t want your dog to become too excited. Train your dog to stay in one spot when the door opens. Take your dog to a spot where they can see the door but they aren’t close enough to run out when the door opens. This is the spot you’ll teach your dog to sit in while training him. Keep the door closed until your dog is seated. Once he sits down, open the door slowly. When your dog has mastered this technique you can practice by having someone come into your home through that door. Even if your dog doesn’t master this at once, be consistent and he’ll learn what you want him to do when someone walks through the door.
Attention–Dogs often bark when they need something. They might want to go outside, they might want to play, or they might be hungry. It’s important that you never reward barking because it reinforces bad behavior. Find other ways for your dog to communicate other than barking. For example, teach your dog how to ring a bell if he needs to go outside.
Anxiety—Dogs who are anxious about being left alone will often bark excessively. Other symptoms of anxiety include pacing, depression, and going to the bathroom in the house. Anxiety is difficult to treat in dogs and you may need the help of your veterinarian. Your dog might need to be on medication in order to get the help he needs.
In order to get your dogs barking under control you are going to need to practice patience. It’s going to take time and it won’t happen overnight but stay the course and you’ll see progress towards your goal. Here are a few things to remember as you begin to get your dogs barking under control:
When you hear your dog barking, say to him, “Quiet” but say it in a calm, firm manner. When he stops barking, even for just a second, give him praise, and give him a treat. Don’t give him a treat while he is barking because that defeats the purpose of your training. If you are consistent he will learn that when he stops barking, he’ll get a treat.
These tips will not stop your dog from barking completely but hopefully they will allow you to get your dogs excessive barking under control. For more tips on dogs and barking, go to http://www.pets.webmd.com.
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