How to help excessive barking dogs

 

barking dog

A barking dog can be very annoying for their owners and more especially for their neighbours. Karen Napthine, a companion animal behaviour practitioner and member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, looks at the problem and offers some useful advice on controlling your dog from excess barking 

WHY?

Anxiety - Often dogs will bark when anxious, such as when they are left alone or when theybarking dog feel nervous about a situation such as a strange person or dog approaching them – a strategy that is very often successful as the subject of their fear backs off.

Attention - Barking to gain a response is very frequently but unintentionally rewarded by owners. If the dog is barking because they want their tea or a treat it is all to easy to give it to them so that the barking stops – the dog has therefore learned that they will be rewarded for barking. If the dog barks to gain your attention and you tell it “sshh” or “Be quiet”, etc., you are most likely looking at it AND talking to it – again a BIG response and another strategy that, from the dog’s point of view, has worked and thus a behaviour from us that will increase the likelihood of the barking happening again ……….. and again! ……….. and again!!

Warning – Not all dogs are territorial but those that are are likely to bark a warning if something or someone approaches.

Stress – Barking can be a self-relieving and therefore self-rewarding coping strategy.

Frustration and Boredom – For some dogs that have insufficient mental stimulation barking is merely SOMETHING TO DO!

 

HOW TO APPROACH IT

Identify the reason for the barking.

If your dog is very anxious when left or around strangers or other dogs or is generally stressed, seek professional behavioural help.

For attention barkers – ignore it; walk away. Don’t talk to, look at, touch or even make eye contact with the dog. This must be ALL THE TIME! EVERY TIME! 100% OF THE TIME!

If you believe boredom may be the cause, be inventive (or contact your local APDT Trainer for advice) on ways to entertain your dog in order to increase his mental stimulation and address his mental welfare. Examples are the use of well-stuffed kong toys, long lasting safe chews and educational toys.

 

If the problem persists, contact a professional dog trainer, behaviourist or Tellington TTouch practitioner. 

 

USEFUL WEBSITES

Xtra Dog Training www.xtradog.training

Association of Pet Dog Trainers UK www.apdt.co.uk

Tellington TTouch UK www.ttouchtteam.com

COAPE www.coape.org

Association of Pet Behaviour Councillors (APBC) www.apbc.org.uk