Dogs Who Bark Too Much
Barking is a dogs way of communicating with you and you will never be able to eradicate it altogether; after all, dogs do bark! (although some dogs bark very little if at all). Although incessant barking can be extremely annoying, it is very important to try to discern why your dog is barking. There are often good reasons for a dog to bark and once you can learn to tell the difference between ‘needs’ barking and ‘wants’ barking, you will be able to respond to the needs and discourage the wants.
Reasons That Dogs Bark
Sometimes dogs will bark simply to get your attention, however giving your attention to them at this time only reinforces the behaviour. The dogs relates barking with getting attention and the barking will often become worse.
A dogs natural instinct is to be in a pack and so if you only have one dog and you leave them alone in the house for any periods of time, chances are they will bark, both whilst you are out and/or when you get home. Barking when you get home is simply their excited way of greeting you, but barking whilst you are out can be distressing for the dog and annoying for any neighbours.
If a dog is frightened or panics then they will often bark. This can be at times such as New years Eve and Bonfire Night when there are lots of noises and people about or if the dog hears a noise in the night or is startled in some way.
Dogs can often be protective of their home, territory, owners and food and they will bark as a warning system. They may bark at people or other dogs if they think any of their ‘possessions’ are being threatened or they can bark at noises outside of the house if they think someone is on their territory.
Some dogs use barking to signal that they are in need. This can be a need to go to the toilet or have a drink, they maybe hungry or be stuck in a certain room if a door has closed.
Dogs bark when they get excited or want to play and most people will not be too bothered by this type of barking. However, if you find it is happening numerous times a day, then it could be due to excessive energy levels in the dog. If this is the case then ensure that your dog gets enough physical exercise by walking them enough or by attending agility classes. Dogs can also have excessive mental energy, especially intelligent and working dogs and so try mental games with your dog such as hiding treats or learning new tricks to alleviate some of the excess mental energy build up.
Ways to Stop a Dog Barking
Some of the above reasons are just your dogs way of telling you that they are excited to see you or that they need to go for a wee. However, there are dogs who will bark constantly because they think they are the pack leader or because they get too overexcited. If this is the case then you can teach your dog to stop barking in a few different ways. If your dog barks a lot then it is important to understand that it may take a few tries before your dog learns to stop barking, so as with all training repetition and patience is the key to success.
Shouting at your dog or telling them to ‘shut up’ will not stop your dog from barking. Dogs do not understand exact words, they only understand your tone and volume and when you shout they think you are joining in with their barking and it will encourage them to do it even more. You need to be calm and in a controlled and firm voice say ‘quiet’ or ‘stop’. As soon as there is a break in the barking (even if it is only for a few seconds), praise your dog and give them a treat. This technique can take a few times of repetition, however your dog will soon associate the word ‘quiet’ or ‘stop’ and not barking with getting a treat.
There are 2 different techniques that you can try with regards to making a noise.
- The first is to make a shaker from anything from stones in a jar to pennies in a tin and shake this when the dog is barking. You must say the word ‘quiet’ or ‘stop’ at the same time because you don’t want to have to shake the tin forever to stop the barking, you want the dog to associate the word with not barking.
- You can use a smaller object as a shaker and when the dog barks, throw the object on to the floor next to them. Try not to let your dog see that you have thrown it, the idea is to make it look like the object has fallen out of thin air. The theory behind this is that the dog will be startled by the noise and will very quickly associated his barking with objects falling from the sky. It is a self-stopping way of preventing the barking, but it is not always easy to throw the object without your dog seeing (and obviously try not to hit your dog with the shaker).