Understand Why Your Dog Is Barking
Barking is a very natural behavior for dogs of all sizes, breeds and ages. While there are a few breeds that don’t bark (the Basenji) or only bark infrequently, even these dogs make noises and will alert their owners to something strange in their environment. Some of the least problem barkers include the Shar-Pei, Setters, Golden Retrievers, Mastiffs, Akitas and many of the sighthounds including the Whippet and the Greyhound.
Most of these low-risk problem barkers are very friendly dogs or are large dogs that don’t need to bark much to be noticed and scare off strangers or strange animals. However, any breed of dog can become a problem barker if he or she isn’t trained or if the dog is stressed or anxious.
Some breeds are more notorious as barkers. Most dogs that were originally bred as watchdogs fall into this group as that is what the breed has been developed to do. Small breeds of dogs and toy dogs are often associated with barking issues as are most of the terrier breeds.
The Barking Benefit
In reality, dog owners aren’t typically interested in completely stopping a dog from barking. Rather, dog owners want to limit the barking so that it doesn’t become a nuisance or a problem.
Barking, even from small dogs, alerts owners to something out of the ordinary. It can also help to deter people from approaching the property as dogs are a very effective advanced alarm system.
Controlling or limiting barking is not as challenging as completely stopping a dog from barking. By teaching the dog the “enough” or “stop” command, the owner gets to have the benefit of a “dog alarm” but not the issue with problem barking.
Barking When You Are Home
When you are home, keep a number of highly desirable treats near the door or where the dog typically engages in the barking behavior. When the doorbell rings or the dog starts to bark, get a treat and let the dog see it is in your hand.
For a dog that is already a problem barker, put the treat right in front of his or her nose to get the dog’s attention. As soon as the dog is focused on the treat say “stop” or “enough” or your command word to cease barking and immediately give the dog a treat.
The next step will be to get the treat, which the dog will quickly figure out is in your hand, and have the dog sit. This distracts the dog both mentally and physically. Additionally, give the dog a favorite toy and continue to provide praise and attention for staying quiet.
Boredom and Stress Barking
Barking when owners are gone is typically a stress or boredom type of behavior. To try to address this proactively, make sure to take the dog for a regular long walk prior to leaving. Additionally, provide some of your pet’s favorite active types of toys such as balls, ropes or chew toys for when you are gone.
Reduce the stimuli in the area by closing curtains and moving the dog to a room in the home where there is less sound from the exterior of the home. Leaving on a radio or television at a low volume can also help to create a more comforting environment with background “white noise” that can help distract the pet from being hypervigilant to noises outside the home.