Author, Darlene Wagner Butler, for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Dogs bark. It’s a fact of life. Their bark serves as a form of vocal communication but, in excess, can be a bother for the human members of their pack, not to mention the neighbors! If your canine companion barks up a storm when left home alone, yelps at critters he spots outside, or loudly and at great length “announces” visitors when they arrive, perhaps it’s time to curb his barking behavior with some training.
As a pet parent, it might be your immediate reaction to shout at your dog when he barks. Unfortunately, since your dog responds to tone, he probably misinterprets your yells and thinks you are joining in on the fun by barking, too! And your shouting may influence your barking buddy to bark even more, as he interprets it as a form of attention. It’s even possible he will begin to bark at nothing, just to get a reaction from you. Most forms of verbal or physical discipline will be perceived as attention from his human (even if it’s meant to be disciplinary). Once the attention stops, may continue to bark purely for added attention.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
There are several reasons why dogs bark ~ to communicate their excitement, boredom, discomfort, hunger… They simply can’t express emotions the way we can, so they bark them instead. To your dog, his bark is a solution to a problem. If he barks when you leave him, when you return he may think his barking called you back. If he barks at strange cat who enters your yard, once the cat wanders off, he may think he successfully chased off a threat.
What’s a Pet Parent to Do?
While there are several emotional factors at play, one of the main for a dog’s boundless barking is simple ~ he has pent-up energy that needs to be redirected. Fulfill your dog’s mental and physical needs on a daily basis. Challenge him with vigorous walks in new environments, obedience games, training sessions and some good ole play time. This alone may be the solution to your barking mad situation. After all, sufficient exercise = less energy = less desire to bark.
Another possible solution is to shatter his belief that barking leads to attention. Rather than scold or him when he barks, turn your back to him and walk away. Be patient and wait as long as it takes for him to be quiet down. Hopefully, after repeated tries to gain your attention with no success, he will soon learn barking is counter-productive.
If your dog barks at a specific object, such the vacuum cleaner, work to desensitize him to the stimulus. Begin by placing the object at a distance and gradually work it closer to him, rewarding him with treats for every few feet the stimulus moves toward him. You want to teach him to equate the stimulus with something good ~ yummy treats! Repeat the process as many times as it takes for him to no longer react by barking. Keep in mind, it may take a few days or even a few weeks for the new, acceptable behavior to be learned. Be consistent and be patient!
Finally, try teaching your pooch an incompatible behavior. When he barks, command him to do something different. Perhaps toss a treat on his bed and command him to “go to bed.” The new learned behavior will be a good substitute for his barking and, with the help of a few treats, should be readily accomplished with sufficient training.
Don’t let your dog’s barking drive YOU barking mad! Work with him to curb his undesirable behavior with plenty of verbal praise and other rewards, such as treats and toys. For a pooch (as with most humans), learning there is a reward can be a very powerful motivator! Praise him AS he does the right thing, not afterward, so he recognizes the correlation.
Hopefully this will teach your dog to do the right thing next time!
About the Owner and Professional Pet Sitting Etc
Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional. She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History.
Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010. It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH. Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook page, Google+ page and more. They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.
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