Does your dog bark when you wish he wouldn’t?

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How to curb excessive barking
Excessive dog barking can be very disturbing. If you or your neighbor feels that your dog is an excessive barker, it is essential to determine why before implementing a solution.

Reasons Dogs Bark
One of the most common reasons dogs bark is to protect their territory from perceived threats. These threats can be detected visually, by smell or sound and may range from small noises to an actual intruder. The extent of the dog’s territory varies greatly. A dog that rarely goes out may perceive his territory to be only inside the house, while others may consider the entire neighborhood as their territory. It can be very difficult to truly know what your dog sees as its “territory”.

Barking and “Outside Dogs”
Dogs that are kept in the backyard unsupervised often develop excessive barking habits either because of territorial guarding or boredom. It is important to work on teaching your dog good house manners so your companion animal can join the family indoors. An untrained dog that lives alone outside will certainly have behavioral problems — barking can sometimes be the least of your worries.

Why Does My Dog Bark?

Outside stimuli.
If your dog barks excessively when the doorbell rings or there is movement outside, then training and management is recommended. Here are some possible solutions:

  • Draw the curtains or confine your dog to another area in the house where outside events aren’t as visible.
  • Teach your dog through obedience training to stop barking on command. Down and sit-stay commands are a good start. Choose a command such as “quiet” when your dog barks and praise him immediately when he stops. You may need to work with a professional to learn the best dog friendly techniques for teaching quiet on cue.
  • Prevent visiting animals from entering your yard. A bird, squirrel or cat may activate a dog’s prey instinct, leading a dog to bark. In this case, getting rid of whatever attracts the visiting animal may reduce your dog’s barking. Some common things that may attract wild animals are fruit and nut trees, birdbaths and bird feeders. In addition, pet food should not be left outside. Even swimming pools can attract wild animals. Remove the fruit or nuts frequently from, and around your trees. Relocate your birdbath or feeder and cover your pool.

Separation anxiety.
More and more dogs today suffer from separation anxiety, resulting in fitful barking and other destructive behaviors. Separation anxiety can be alleviated in a number of ways:

  • Exercise or train your dog before you leave the house.
  • Make absences short at first, and vary the length of time until your dog understands that you will be back.
  • Leave special treats and toys to occupy the dog when you go.
  • Have someone come in during your absence to walk or play with your dog to lessen its stress.

Prevention and training along with physical and mental exercise are all necessary in solving your dog’s barking problem. It may be challenging to find what exactly is causing your dog’s excessive barking problem, but is often easily rectified once you do. Remember to be consistent…your neighbors will thank you.

Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.