How much is too much?
And what can you do if your dog’s barking is bugging you?
What you do really depends on your dog. Why is he or she barking? And when?
Asking a dog not to bark is like asking a person not to talk. Also barking serves different purposes. Dogs give one or two barks in greeting and bark from excitement when they want to play. Dogs bark when they know they are about to do something they love like take a walk. Barking often serves as signals, sending messages like “I’m lonely. I’m hungry. I’m scared.” Dogs also yowl, yelp and yip.
Being territorial animals, dogs bark as a warning. They have excellent hearing and know far in advance, when anyone approaches. Delivery workers and mail carriers hear dogs in houses, garages, and yards, conveying messages like, “Stay away! Stay back! Keep out!”
Dogs can also display high-levels of aggression, warning strangers to keep away from their human parent. A fearful or aggressive display can be changed with supervised socialization and training. Group training helps dogs meet new people and other dogs in a non-threatening manner.
My dog Sydney lets me know when anyone approaches our house. He alerts me with three or four mid-level barks, wanting me to go look out our front window. I follow and look outside then say, “Okay. That’s our neighbor.” If he continues to bark, I tell him, “Quiet.” Most of the time, Sydney relaxes and stops barking.
But this has not been a quick process, training him to stop barking on command. Our whole family continues to show Sydney what we mean when we say, “Sydney, quiet.”
When Sydney has a “barking day” I use distraction. A favorite toy, a yummy chew stick or a quick game of “Find It” tend to get his mind off barking. When distraction does not work, I resort to keeping him in my office with me, this way he cannot keep guarding the house or barking from boredom. We reinforce the “Quiet,” command—often. Sydney receives a treat when he quiets for at least 30 seconds.
The most challenging habit Sydney persists in is his over-the-top yelling, high-pitched greetings. These displays of excitement cause distress. He doesn’t seem to get that his squealing yells hurt the ears of the people he loves. Sometimes, we briefly isolate him in another room as guests arrive. We don’t let Sydney out until he is quiet. As a last resort, we use a water squirt bottle. If he will not quiet, he gets one squirt of water, which serves to interrupt barking fits. These days he doesn’t need the squirt bottle. The cue word “quiet” lets him know to stop barking.
Know that some dog breeds were designed to bark for specific purposes.
Find humane methods of teaching your dog to quiet on command and socialize him to accept other people and animals.
For more insight to barking and how to deal with it, I suggest reading a humorous, short book from DogFancy, Barking: Simple Solutions (Simple Solutions Series) by Kim Campbell Thornton http://amzn.to/kpEOmU
When does your dog bark?
Have you ever solved a barking problem? How did you do it?