If your dog tends to bark more than you’d like it to, or at times when it becomes a nuisance, understand that dog barking can be controlled but not completely eliminated. Unless you own a Basenji, the only breed that does not bark, you’re going to have to expect that dogs will bark from time to time.
It will be helpful to know why dogs bark as you seek to control the barking that is causing issues.
Why Dogs Bark
Once you really get to know your dog you will identify the times and reasons it barks and may even be able to differentiate the tone of its bark in different circumstances. The most common types of barking include:
- Barking to give alarm or warning
- Barking to protect territory
- Barking to receive attention
- Barking out a friendly greeting
- Barking out of frustration
- Barking due to injury
- Barking that is compulsive
Dogs express themselves in many ways and your goal as the owner is to limit unnecessary barking as part of your pooch’s overall training.
Essential Steps to Controlling Barking
Before you start training to limit your dog’s barking observe your canine to learn about its tendencies. Are there specific triggers for barking? Times of day when barking is most prominent? Events the dog consistently barks at?
Limiting the amount of unneeded barking begins with establishing your authority over the dog. This will give the dog greater cause to obey your command to stop even if it doesn’t want to. In this way it will learn to stop barking at things which do not pose a threat – the mailman, the jogger passing by, the child on a bike, etc.
In addition, dogs often bark to show territory or protect the home because they don’t feel secure there or they think they are the leader. This is where your strong leadership is important. When your dog learns that you are in control of the environment and that it is your responsibility to protect the home and “turf” the dog will relax. Relieve your furry friend’s anxiety by exhibiting alpha leadership it can follow. If you don’t show leadership, telling the dog to stop barking or yelling at it will create confusion in it and possibly aggression.
Beyond this, do what you can to reduce the triggers to your dog’s barking. If it is being teased or taunted put an end to that immediately. If the dog can’t seem to stop barking at loud trucks going by then play some white noise or music until the neighborhood construction is over. Close the blinds if pooch can’t resist barking at that hot Black Lab going by. You may even need to add a privacy fence in the back yard to reduce the visual distractions that make your dog bark.
Putting an End to Anxious Barking
Many of us have had that uncomfortable phone call from the neighbor telling us our dog barked for hours while we were gone. This can be solved with proactive steps, and moving isn’t one of them! The new neighbors won’t like it any more. First, downplay your leaving and returning. If you make light of it so will your canine companion. Give your dog an attention session 15 or 20 minutes before you leave. A brisk walk would really help too. Then be casual about leaving, offering no doggy kisses or elaborate goodbye’s. Just walk out the door. When you return say “hi” and go about your business. Let the dog calm down before you give it more attention. Never set feeding time for the moment you get home after work. You’ll hear about it from the neighbors. Don’t train your pooch to associate your coming and going with anything special. That will go a long way to reducing this behavior.
It will also help your dog if you train it to speak and be quiet. This is transferring some control over its barking to you. That will give you the ability to help your dog control its natural inclinations. Some dog owners think that if they prevent their furry friends from barking they won’t respond to an intruder or real threat. Don’t worry. Your dog is instinctually wired to respond to threats to the “pack” or family whether it’s the leader of the pack or not. Thousands of real life stories back up this truth. Keeping your dog’s barking under control will make you a better neighbor without jeopardizing anyone’s safety or wellbeing.