Many a suburban neighbourhood relationship has been soured by a barking dog. There is no other way to say it: a barking dog is a nuisance. But you need to know that dogs bark for a reason – and there are solutions to the problem.
Barking is normal, natural doggie behaviour – to an extent. It is a necessary means by which canines communicate. But when barking becomes an issue, you as the dog parent need to figure out why it has become an issue before you can begin to address the problem.
Dogs bark for an array of reasons. These follow – with some solutions to try:
- Separation Anxiety
Unlike cats, dogs do become very anxious when left alone. They need to be trained to expect and cope with your absence – knowing that you are indeed coming home. Ensure that when he is alone, your dog has a toy and a chew bone, and that he is in a safe place. Dogs can also benefit from attending dog day care to help them cope when you need to be away from them.
Dogs who spend all day alone with no amusement may well just bark out of boredom – as well as destroying your garden and home! Make sure Fido gets plenty of exercise (you can hire a dog walking service), as well as mental stimulation. A Kong toy filled with food or a treat is great for this purpose. Have plenty of toys for variety and hide some of these for him to find as he explores his domain. Give him plenty of attention when you are at home.
Whether it’s a human intruder or a cheeky neighbourhood possum, your dog will naturally bark at an intruder – and he might not know who is a welcome visitor and who is not – he’s just making his and their presence known. You actually do want your dog to bark when and if there is a real threat. Dog behaviourists recommend working to change your dog’s mindset from protecting his territory from visitors, neighbours, and the postman to a positive association and to reward calm, quiet behaviour.
Barking at the dog next door may be a cue to carefully arrange a supervised play date!
Storms, fireworks, power tools, lawnmowers – these can all evoke fear in even the bravest dog, and night time is the scariest time when anxiety can be heightened. Let your dog be inside with you.
Barking is how dogs communicate. It’s that simple. What is he trying to say? Some barking is desirable – and natural.
- Attention Seeking
A dog that is bored, lonely, sad, or in pain will bark – he wants your attention for a reason. Reward good behaviour; ignore undesirable behaviour. Make sure you give plenty of love, affection, and attention. Dogs are social animals – if this doesn’t work for you, don’t become a doggie parent.
Never punish a dog for barking – instead reinforce and reward good behaviour, and train him to bark more appropriately.