Unwanted Barking

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For The Love of Animals

The best way to prevent excessive barking is to try and remove the potential sources causing the behaviour. You also want to make sure you aren't inadvertently encouraging the barking.

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so there isn't as much pent up energy to burn.
  • Avoid leaving your dog alone for long periods of time if possible.
  • Never comfort, pet, hug or feed your dog while it is barking for attention. This would be considered rewarding the behaviour.
  • Shouting or yelling at your dog doesn't help. A simple firm "Enough" works best.
  • Avoid punishments such as shock collars, these are painful and unkind.
  • Try to get your dogs attention with a clap or whistle. Once quiet, redirect your dogs attention to something productive such as a toy or treat.
  • Don't let your dog bark constantly while outside, regardless of the reason. Control the situation as much as possible by setting up similar situations to use as training. Practice in short, frequent sessions generally 5-10 minutes each.
  • If your dog barks during play, quiet the type of play down. Get your dog into a relaxed mood and then start the play activity again. Always keep play under control. Be the leader in the activity and include training tasks in the play.

Regardless of why your dog barks, always use positive reinforcement. Let your dog know when you're happy with how they are behaving. As soon as your dog stops barking, immediately reward your dog with a treat and praise. Positive reinforcement is the best training technique. Just be careful not to praise unwanted behaviour by mistake. Patting or stroking a barking dog can give your dog the impression you like what it is doing and will continue.

For older dogs, knowing the reason for the barking is a big part of finding the solution. Toys, games, training, and interaction all go a long way to help a bored or lonely dog. A tired dog is generally a better behaved dog. They are usually in a better state of mind when they are active. Boredom and loneliness can lead to other undesired behaviours as well. Get a variety of toys like Kongs, safe chew toys, Nylabones, etc., that will stimulate your dog's mind and give it something to do. Obedience lessons, a walk or playing fetch will help.

Do not let your dog get away with barking for hours before you decide to tell it to stop. Always stop the bark as soon as it first starts. Teach your dog from day one what will and will not be allowed.

Courtesy of Marilyn Murray ~ For The Love of Animals