Dogs Barking – Tips and Advice Posted on May 25, 2017 Barking is a normal instinct for dogs and a natural way for them to communicate. Dogs can bark excessively for many reasons, including anxiety, boredom, distress, excitement, fear and in defence of their territory. That means there’s no single solution to all barking problems because every dog is different! Any training should be based on positive reinforcement. So only reward ‘good’ behaviours (e.g., when your dog is quiet, give them a treat or pat on the head) and avoid rewarding ‘unwanted’ actions (e.g., when your dog barks, ignore the action completely). Training shouldn’t include punishment. In fact, punishment will most likely make the barking problem worse! Any training should be based on positive reinforcement. So only reward ‘good’ behaviours (e.g., when your dog is quiet, give them a treat or pat on the head) and avoid rewarding ‘unwanted’ actions (e.g., when your dog barks, ignore the action completely). Training shouldn’t include punishment. In fact, punishment will most likely make the barking problem worse! So, what should you do if your dog is barking excessively? You should speak to your veterinarian because they can help identify the main cause of your dog’s barking habit. It’s important to figure out why your dog is barking and to identify the actual triggers. Once the cause and triggers are identified, you can develop a unique training plan to treat your dog’s excessive barking. Dogs don’t try to be purposely annoying or bark for no reason. To help identify the reason for your dog’s excessive barking, we’ve gone ahead and provided several common triggers, as well as effective solutions that you can try. Exercise Barking can often happen when your dog has too much energy and becomes bored. Solution: By taking your dog for a good walk in the morning, they are more likely to rest until you return home. Boredom Dogs left alone all day with nothing to do will often resort to barking because they’re bored. Solution: Make sure your house and garden are enriched with fun toys and puzzles to keep your dog entertained. You can also keep your dog’s toys in a toy box and alternate the toys that your dog can play with each day. Company Dogs are pack animals, so it’s not unusual for them to become anxious when left alone. Teaching your dog how to cope with being alone at a young age is a good idea. Solution: Start by sending your dog outside for short amounts of time while you’re still at home. Make sure he has a toy to play with or a raw bone to chew on. • When you do leave the house, make sure he has a safe place he can go to (e.g., a kennel). Vaccinate, microchip and register. Registration could determine whether or not you are reunited with your pet after being separated. • Try not to fuss over your dog when you arrive at home. When you leave and return, make it as quiet and fuss-free as possible. Attention seeking Dogs can bark when trying to call out to their human pack members or when bored and lonely. Solution: Praise and pat your dog when he’s calm and quiet, helping him realise that this is how he can get your attention. Give your dog a treat when he’s calm and not barking. Warning barks It’s normal for your dog to warn you about potential intruders or strangers. They’re acting on instinct and are simply protective of their human pack members. Solution: Make use of predictable people arriving at your house, such as the postman, to change your dog’s association from territory protection to a positive experience. If your dog barks at your neighbours when they’re in their garden, make sure to give your dog treats when he sees your neighbours (before he barks). This will help your dog associate your neighbours with food and positivity. Give your dog a yummy treat or let him play with his favourite toy each time the postman comes. You can also think about giving your neighbours some dog treats so they can treat your dog when they see him. This is a much better option than your neighbours yelling at your dog in frustration. Be sure to reward your dog when he’s calm and not barking. If your dog is barking at the dog next door, arrange a meet and greet. Let them play together in a supervised area and get to know each other. Remember, it’s always best to ask for veterinary advice if you have a pet-related problem. But we hope this is a handy guide that will help you live a happy life with your best friend!