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What is Barking?
Barking consists of a series of short, sharp sounds that tend to vary little in tone or pitch. While normal barking can be tolerated, excessive barking can cause great annoyance – and lead to neighborhood disputes!
Your dog uses barking, howling and whining as a means of communication – a way of letting you know that there is an intruder, that it is unhappy, hungry or stressed.
What Causes Barking?
Causes for problem barking may include:
- Genetic pre-disposition (certain breeds are prone to more frequent barking)
- Improper confinement (a dog in a locked room, a dog crate or enclosed yard without shelter from the elements)
- Lack of exercise (pent-up energy is released through barking)
- Environmental sounds (other dogs, passing cars, thunder, ringing of the phone)
- Boredom (long periods without playmates or toys)
- Separation anxiety (a dog may bark for attention)
Help for Barking
Once you have determined a cause of your dog’s excessive barking, you can begin to work on effective solution. Barking can alert you to an intruder on your property, so getting your dog to stop barking is a tricky situation. A dog should still bark at a stranger, yet know when barking is out of hand. This is a fine line indeed!
If your dog’s barking has created neighborhood tension, it might be a good idea to discuss the problem with your neighbors. If excessive barking is getting out of hand, consider consulting an animal behaviorist for further advice. Your vet may also be able to help – and may prescribe certain medications to lessen your dog’s excitability. However, keep in mind that these drugs can be strong and may dull your pet’s senses.
More Information on Barking
Tips related to barking:
- Never yell at your dog. Rather use a spray bottle while your dog is barking and reward your dog when it stops barking.
- Avoid using devices that emit loud or high frequency sounds that interrupt and deter barking. These devices can be controlled by the owner, but also by intruders!
- Walk your dog daily – it’s good exercise, both mental and physical
- Take an obedience class with your dog.
- Provide interesting toys to keep your dog busy when you’re not home (but make sure your dog will not choke on them!)
- Keep your dog inside when you’re unable to supervise him.
- Let your neighbors know that you’re actively working on the problem.
- Teach your dog a "quiet" command. When he begins to bark at a passer-by, allow two or three barks, then say "quiet" and interrupt his barking by shaking a can filled with pennies or squirting water at his mouth with a spray bottle or squirt gun.
- Have your dog neutered (or spayed if your dog is a female) to decrease territorial behavior.
A note on shock collars and bark collars: These devices are recommended only after other control measures have failed and should only be used as a final resort, when all other behavioral modification methods have been tried (particularly when the dog’s life is in question). Never use a bark collar on your dog if his barking is due to separation anxiety, fears or phobias, because punishment always makes fear and anxiety behaviors.