Dogs bark for many reasons and triggers include:
- Guarding property
- Alarm barking
- Requests for space
- Communication with other dogs in the area
Dogs also bark during play which is a normal behaviour. When barking becomes excessive or compulsory you may need to seek assistance from a professional especially if your dog is destructive, self-harming or appears to be very stressed or frenzied when barking.
Barking can start as a normal behaviour and very soon become either self-rewarding or self-soothing. Either way addressing the problem is a must or you can end up with unhappy neighbours and a very distressed dog.
If your dog is barking when left alone for more than 5 hours and you feel this may be due to boredom then consider using a service such as a doggie daycare or a pet sitter or walker to break up the day. If these are not feasible then give your dog a job during the day. Get rid of the food bowl and make your dog work for their dinner. It takes on average 3 minutes for your dog to eat their breakfast from a food bowl. How about extending that time to up to 4 hours!
The use of KONGs, Treatballs and any food dispensing toys can really help a dog when they are alone and decrease barking by a huge percentage. KONG dog toys can be filled and frozen to last even longer. Treatballs will dispense their daily ration of food over a longer period while focusing your dog on something other than barking. The action of bouncing, licking and chewing the toys can also reduce anxiety. Remove these toys every evening and put them away when they are not in use so that they retain their high value.
If your dog is barking when visitors arrive change the association. Let your dog know that visitors predict good things and there is no reason to be alarmed. By placing a pot of your dog’s treats by the door and each time visitors call they deliver a reward your dog is less likely to feel the need to alarm bark. You can use a ration of your dog’s regular food for this to prevent over feeding.
If your dog is being triggered to bark by an environmental factor that you cannot control you may need to consider training around that external factor so as to desensitise your dog to that stimulus. Teaching a ‘quiet’ verbal cue can be useful so that you can request quiet from your dog.
Reinforcing your dog when they do not bark is also highly effective. Take time to play with your dog in the garden, note the times when your dog chooses not to bark and reward highly with praise and a treat. Use the word ‘quiet’ followed by a reward to let your dog what the cue word ‘quiet’ means.
You may need the assistance of a good trainer with some of the exercises above. If you feel that your dogs barking is excessive and you need extra help please contact us directly for assistance at [email protected].
About The Author
Dog Training Ireland was founded to help dog’s live fullfilling lives in the human world. At Dog Training Ireland emphasis is on ethical training based on sound canine training and behaviour study. DTI staff are qualified and certified by reputable recognised industry standard colleges and bodies such as Bishop Burton College, the APDT UK (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) the CCPDT (Council for Professional Dog Trainers), COAPE (Centre of Applied Pet Ethology). All Dog Training Ireland Trainers have at least 2 years of training, hold national certificates, diplomas and some are studying at Masters Level. Click here for more info.