Barking Mad

The Resource for Everything About Dogs

Barking Mad

by Angela Fitch

Nuisance Barking can be just that, a real problem. Dogs do bark, it is a way they communicate and they may bark for various reasons which is all quite normal.

If you have a problem with your dogs barking, you need first of all to find out why they are doing it. If they bark at other dogs, they may have a social problem which you need to address. If they bark at loud noises or moving objects: i.e. cars, then they may have a problem with these that you need to de-sensitise them to. If they bark when you leave them alone, they need help learning how to deal with your departure! When dogs are barking at something or because of an event, you should seek advice on how to help them learn to cope with these issues that are disturbing them.

What though, if your dog is just barking? You let him in the garden and he just barks! Most cases like this are boredom. Dogs aren?t receiving enough stimulation from their owners and so they will then seek to make their own. A classic example of this is running out into the back garden and barking up at the sky, at the birds or the wind blowing through the trees. This behaviour has been started once, the dog has found it rewarding, giving him something to do and the problem escalates until he is barking and reacting to everything he can! Dogs are very habit forming and once they start a behaviour, it will become a habit which without intervention can develop into a problem.

If your dog is finding constant barking a rewarding behaviour, then you need to change the reward.

1. Attach a long lead, not a flexi lead but a tracking line of appx.30ft to your dogs collar when you let him out into the garden.

2. When he barks, reel him back indoors. Do not speak or touch him. This will teach him that if he constantly barks outside, he will not be rewarded for the behaviour (being allowed to carry on), but that he will not be allowed to stay outside.

3. You can let him back out, but if he barks, do the same again. If he stays quiet, you can reward him by using praise and treats. The more you practice, the quicker your results.

4. If your dog is barking at you for attention, do not give in. Turn your back and ignore him completely. Get up and walk away if necessary ? Break your eye contact. If you respond to his demands, they will get worse.

If you use this technique, you will start to break the habit. When changing a dogs behaviour, if you practice ?every time? you should see big improvement in 2 weeks.

The other option is to try anti-bark collars. This is a collar which emits a citronella spray when the dog barks, they don?t like the spray or the smell and it will interrupt the barking for you. These can be very effective but I would only use them if a dog is nuisance barking, particularly at night.. Please get advice as you could inadvertently make the problem worse by using them when other methods may be better.

The most important thing to look at is your dogs stimulation. You should be dedicating a minimum of 2 hours a day to him, to include walking, playing and training. If you provide enough attention, it will help stop him becoming bored. Remember, never reward barking with attention & treats, ignoring and distraction are the best methods to practice.

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