Is your dog barking his/her head off and disturbing you and the neighbors?
Read the full blog post to know the causes and corrective measures you can take to curb this behavior
Barking is a natural behavior of dogs. Dogs bark to express a variety of emotions. A bank can have a different meaning depending on the situation at hand. However constant or excessive barking can be seen as a nuisance and considered as human behavior problem by the humans.
What is the reason behind excessive barking and dogs?
There are several reasons why your dog might be barking too much. Even though excessive barking is most often a behavioral concern among dog guardians , it is always better to rule out any underlying medical issue that may lead to excessive barking.
Underlying medical issues behind excessive barking
If your dog is suffering from pain or is having any other medical issue, he or she may react by barking excessively. Touch the body of your dog from head to toe and cover every inch with your hand to find out if there is a tender spot anywhere on the body. Some dogs have the ability to hide pain symptoms even when you touch them, and some times the pain maybe at regions which cannot be physically touched like internal organs or mouth. It is always better to consult your veterinarian first and rule out any underlying medical condition for excessive barking before you consider this as a behavioral concern.
1. Your dog is ageing
It is a common behavior for dogs to bark more when the age and make more noise. Some dogs may bark for hours on end while others may begin to excessively bark. If your dog is suffering from a condition like Alzheimer’s or canine cognitive dysfunction, they may not even be aware of what they are doing and keep barking. Ageing dogs may also have deafness, vision impairment or pains and body aches which can lead to excessive barking.
Dogs react to fear by barking. It is a very common symptom and this can take place in home or places which are away from home. Dogs tend to voice their concern by barking. This behavior may be brought upon by fireworks, presence of a stranger who. They are not comfortable with a new situation or even being in doggy daycare for the first time.
Dogs use their bark to express a variety of things. One of these might be to designate which is their territory and to protect the territory from other dogs. Dogs are very possessive about their territory and are protective of it. If your dog is only barking when someone is in their territory, it is most likely a territorial issue and not a major concern.
Just like humans, dogs also feel lonely. Dogs natural behavior to be in a pack. They prefer to be in company of others. If your dogs are left alone for very long periods of time on a daily basis, they may start barking excessively to indicate their unhappiness. Furthermore, if you do not provide enough stimulation to your dog to keep him or her busy for the long duration that you are away, it can lead to the behavior of excessive barking.
5. Begging for attention or greeting
Dogs love to get attention. A greeting bark is usually a friendly bark. If your dog is trying to greet everyone he or she meets on a walk, it may lead to excess of barking. However if your dog is not trying to lunge at others and is only barking, you should understand that this barking is related to greeting and not any kind of aggression. Constant barking may also signal that your dog is looking for food or wants to go out to conduct his or her business or is just vying for some attention.
6. Separation anxiety
Dogs who are left alone for long periods of time most commonly bark excessively due to separation anxiety. Along with excessive barking dogs stuck in such situation, also exhibit other behavioral issues like scratching furniture, chewing up the tables walls or doors etcetera. To gain a complete knowledge of separation anxiety in dogs and how to curb this behavior, check out the following links:
9 TREATMENT STRATEGIES FOR DOGS SUFFERING FROM SEPARATION ANXIETY
How to stop excessive barking in dogs?
Now that you know the causes behind such behavior, it is time to understand the methods that curb the same. Keep reading, to find out what strategies can be used to reduce excessive barking in dogs. The solution to reducing excessive barking in dogs can either be a very simple and straightforward one or you may have to use a couple of options together to curb the behavior of excessive vocalization in your pup.
Always make sure that your dog receives plenty of mental as well as physical exercise every day, especially before you leave for work. A tired dog has a higher chance of resting when you are away. If it’s difficult for you to come back in the middle of the day to walk your dog, get a dog walker so that your dog gets a midday walk as well.
Dogs tend to bark if they have not been socialized very well. If your dog has been provided with enough number of positive experiences with people of all ages as well as many other dogs, he or she is less likely to bark when they meet another dog or any other human.
One way to socialize your dog with other humans is to ask the guests or mailman entering your house to give your dog a treat. This will cause your dog to associate a reward with the entry of a new person in the household. Similarly when you go to the dog park and your dog sees other dogs, provide him or her a treat as a positive reinforcement if he or she did not bark at other dogs
3. Use plenty of dog puzzles and toys to stimulate their brain activity
There are many interactive dog toys available in the market which can be used to drain your dog mentally. A mentally tired dog is less likely to bark at strangers or other dogs. To use the interactive dog toys, put the treat in the puzzles and make your dog work to get the treats out of the puzzle boxes.
4. Manage your surroundings
This is a very common solution provided by the trainers. If you are going to leave your dog for long hours alone in the house, make sure you put on some familiar sounds in the background like a television program which your dog likes to watch or the radio. The purpose of this activity is so that the house suddenly does not become quiet when you leave and your pup is surrounded by sounds which are present when you are in the home.
These noises can distract your dog from the noises outside of your house and can reduce the chances of him or her barking. A few additional steps which you can take are to close the blinds or drop the curtains before you leave so that your dog does not get an opportunity to have a look at the squirrel outside or see the mailman crossing the road. The purpose of this task is to remove situations which will tempt your dog to bark.
5. Teach your dog, the quiet command
A very common method of reducing excessive barking dogs is to use the ‘quiet’ command. In a calm and firm voice, tell your dog to be quiet and reinforce the correct behavior with lots of treats, affection and love. As a dog guardian you need to understand that you cannot change your dog’s behavior overnight. It may take you the time from a few days to a few weeks or months to get your dog to understand the new command and respond every time.
6. Do not respond if your dog is barking
As I mentioned earlier, barking is also a manner for dogs to get attention from their guardians. Your dogs might bark to get your attention, request for food or to be let out of the crate. If your dog is barking, ignore them. When your dog stops parking, give them what they desire. Also remember, to reinforce the correct behavior with a treat or a toy so that your dog learns that barking will not get him on her anywhere.
Now that you know all the things that you must do to curb your dog’s barking habits, there are also a few things which MUST NEVER BE DONE:
1. Never yell at your dog for displaying unwanted behavior. Yelling will only make your dog afraid of you, it will never improve your dog’s behavior. It may also stimulate your dog causing him or her to become physically aggressive and bark more.
2. Never use SHOCK COLLARS, spray water or hit your dog. These are inhumane training methods. Eventually your dog will learn to work around them and may become even more aggressive than before.
3. If your dog is barking outside or in the yard, bring him or her in as soon as possible. Yelling at your dog under such conditions won’t help. Rather, try and distract your pup with a toy or a treat. Play with your dog till he or she forgets or moves on from what triggered the barking. Allowing your dog to bark outside for a long duration is the fastest way to get the police at your doorstep.
4. NEVER EVER OPT FOR SURGERY
This is out there on the internet, so I have to mention it here, but I am strictly against debarking surgery. This surgery involves removal of a partial section of your dog’s vocal cords. This causes the bard to become more raspy and quieter. This procedure does not benefit your dog physically and thus MUST BE AVOIDED at all costs.
There are no untrainable dogs, just impatient humans. Understand the causes behind your dog’s barking and address them. Trust me, dogs are much more sensitive and intelligent than they are given credit for. I am a mom to 15 foster dog kids. I have never heard a single one of them bark for no reason. So please, it is a humble request, that you try and understand the cause behind the problem before taking any form of action to eliminate it.
Thank you for reading.
See you in my next blog post