Learn why dogs bark constantly and how you can stop your pet from becoming a nuisance to yourself and others without needing to dole out harsh punishments.
Dogs tend to bark for one of three reasons; excitement, boredom or as a warning to intruders deemed too close to the dog’s territory. Any of these reasons can become problematic if the dog’s barking becomes incessant as it can lead to neighbourhood disputes and even the removal of the animal by law enforcement.
According to Pet Education, a dog that has become over excited during play may start to bark excitedly using short, sharp yapping barks. This is normal behaviour, especially for young dogs and puppies which are more prone to over excitement. If the behaviour becomes an irritation for either humans or other dogs, the offending pup should be removed. As soon as the dog begins to bark, simply take it away from the cause of the excitement until it has calmed down; then return it. The dog will quickly learn that barking means being taken away from the action and will learn to be quiet even when excited.
According to Gwen Bailey, a professional dog behaviourist in the UK, dogs are naturally high-energy pack animals which need mental and physical stimulation to live contentedly. This being the case, when dogs are left alone in a confined area for long periods, they become bored and seek to release their pent-up energy. Barking can become something of a hobby for bored dogs as it relieves their frustration and gives them something to do. Providing a barking dog with extra stimulation reduces its need to bark. This stimulation can come from toys with food hidden in them, chewing toys, a warm safe place to sleep and plentiful supply of fresh water.
The old saying “a tired dog is a good dog” can certainly be applied to preventing problem barking as a dog which feels the need to rest and sleep will not want to waste energy barking. Taking a dog for a long walk or giving the dog plenty of high-energy exercise, such as playing fetch, before it is left alone will burn away its excess energy. The length of the walk will depend on the dog’s breed and how long it will be alone for. Some very high-energy breeds, such as collies, may need to be walked for as long as two hours before being left, and this must be given serious consideration before acquiring such a dog.
Guard dogs have been bred for centuries to let their owners know if anything is approaching their territory. This can be extremely useful and is one of the traits which attracts people to breeds such as rottweilers, but excessive guard barking can become a nuisance. Training a guard dog to only bark for short periods and to be quiet on command can be used to control this behaviour.
To do this training, begin by tempting the dog to start barking by doing something like knocking at the door. Once the dog has barked twice, give a command such as “enough” or “quiet” in a firm but calm voice. When the dog stops barking, give it lots of praise and attention and a high-value treat such as cheese. The dog will quickly learn to stop barking on command and eventually it will become a habit for the dog to only bark for short periods.
Dogs are vocal animals and barking is a natural part of their behaviour. Attempting to punish a dog for barking will only serve to aggravate the problem and you will lose its trust, making the dog difficult to train in the future. Understanding dogs’ needs and working with them is far more likely to give the desired results.