So, you have just welcomed a new fur-baby into your home, and what an exciting time this is! But for many, this time can be overshadowed by one drawback in particular – excessive barking. Barking is a normal response from dogs – an important means of communication which can often translate to hello, fear, warning, excitement, alert, or many more other signals. However, when dogs bark excessively this usually implies an underlying issue which can become a nuisance to yourself and your neighbours.
Behavioural needs should be first identified to determine the issue causing the excessive barking:
Is your dog adequately exercised?
We recommend taking your dog for a walk in the morning before you leave for work. This will help to both tire out your dog, provide stimulation and reduce anxiety levels – which in turn will reduce barking behaviour during the first part of the day. Remember, a tired dog is a quiet dog
Is your dog bored?
Dogs are social animals and generally do not like being left to their own device all day long. If possible, we recommend doggy-daycare, a dog walker or minder to visit your fur-baby during the day, if your pet is not one that likes their own company. Otherwise, a lunch break doggie walk will provide some great physical and mental stimulation. If this isn’t possible, then try using a couple of food-dispensing toys which are sure to keep him/her busy for several hours. Providing a raw meaty bone can also mean a few hours of chewing heaven for your dog. That being said though, dogs will adjust to extended periods of alone time – but we recommend gradually lengthening your time apart to reduce stress and anxiety.
What are some techniques to reduce barking?
- We suggest picking a word that will indicate to your dog to stop barking. Words like ‘No’ have no context to a dog, and yelling whilst raising anxiety can also encourage the dog thinking you are also barking (and probably happy you joined in also!). Distract the dog from the behaviour, perhaps with another desired behaviour, a treat, a toy or some other form of distraction. If you request a desired behaviour, such as on your mat, bed, sit etc. then they know what’s expected of them.
- Training your dog to bark on command can also help funnily enough. Using “speak” to indicate to your dog to talk, means that they know when they should be speaking.
- You can ignore unwanted behaviour and reward good behaviour. If you feel your dog is barking for attention, then avoid eye contact, even leave the room. In contrast, when your dog Is quiet – praise, pat, and reward with treats
- Be patient with your fur-baby – changing behaviour can take a lot of practise, and needs to be addressed one step at a time
- If all else fails, we can always assist in reducing your dog’s excessive barking, by assisting identifying the possible cause. Ruling out medical problems that can cause excessive barking, from dementia, brain disease such as seizures, to pain is also essential.
No one should expect a dog never to bark – this would be just as unreasonable as expecting a child never to talk! But often, excessive barking is usually a clue to a different problem or behaviour – such as loneliness, attention seeking, territoriality, fear, or playfulness. They may be trying to tell you that something is not right, like stranger danger, “Mum, Mum, Mum, Dad, Dad, Dad”, why aren’t you listening for example. Once you do address the reason as to why your fur-baby just won’t stop barking though, you’ll both be able to enjoy a better night’s sleep, and long, peaceful days.