If you’re like many dog owners, barking problems are at the top of your list. There are few dog behaviors that are more annoying than constant loud barking for no apparent reason. Problem barking can become a thing of the past, but it does take a lot of time and attention to end the problem if your dog is already engaging in nuisance barking.
Excessive Barking Is Rewarding To Your Dog
The biggest problem in dealing with nuisance barking is that your dog is rewarded every time he barks. If he barks at someone walking by the house, in his mind, the person left because he barked at them. It’s the same with the mail carrier, or the meter reader, or any number of people who may walk by your home. In your dog’s mind, he has protected his territory and run off the intruders. Now, whenever somebody walks by the house, he barks more to make them leave.
Many dogs bark incessantly when their owners are gone. This is because your dog wants you to come back, and if he barks long enough, you always do. This is another reward for behavior you don’t want.
The point is that you need to think like your dog when dealing with barking problems. You can see how easy it is to inadvertently train him to do the exact opposite of what you want.
Two Types Of Barking Problems
To solve the problem of excessive barking, you need to figure out why your pooch is barking in the first place.
Most dogs bark for two reasons, as outlined above. The first is to protect his territory. If your dog is in the habit of barking at anyone who passes by, it may help to close the curtains so he can’t see out. Keep him in the back of the house, preferably in his crate, when you’re not there.
The second reason for nuisance barking is that it’s attention-seeking behavior. Dogs are social animals. They don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. And if your dog is overly-attached to you, that’s a recipe for problems. Spend lots of time with your dog, giving him attention when he does what you want, and ignoring him when he doesn’t.
Suggestions To Stop A Barking Dog
Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise every day, at least an hour and a half, to use up his excess energy and tire him out so that he’ll sleep when you’re not there.
Take charge as the alpha dog in the house. Your dog’s job is to alert you to problems, but your job as the pack leader is to deal with them. See what he’s barking at, and then tell him “that’s enough” in a low growly tone. He needs to learn to defer to your leadership and trust in your judgment.