Q: How do I stop my dog from barking?
A: It can understandably be frustrating when your dog won’t stop barking, especially if it’s starting to cause disruption to your life. It can be really hard to know what to do for the best & it can become an endless cycle of trying different things to stop it, often with limited success!
Barking is a normal canine form of communication & depending on the situation it can mean different things. However, in some cases it can become extreme & make life really difficult!
To help reduce the barking the motivation behind what’s causing it needs investigation. Causes for excessive barking might include:
- Attention seeking (they just really want that fuss from your visitor!)
- Your dog feeling frustrated (maybe they don’t understand why they’re behind a barrier)
- Territorial anxiety or frustration (like barking at the postman)
- Feeling anxious (perhaps they bark when left alone)
- Excitement (because they just can’t wait for you to throw that ball!)
- Being in pain or discomfort (they’re not sure how else to show they’re not feeling great)
(not an exhaustive list)
The motivation will vary between dogs & once it’s been established you can work on behaviour change. As with any problematic behaviour, a vet check is essential to rule out pain or discomfort.
When barking becomes learnt behaviour:
Becoming an established, go to behaviour means that there’s unlikely to be a quick fix. You’ll probably need to commit to making some changes if you want some peace & quiet.
In most cases it’s important to reduce rehearsal of barking where possible. If you know what triggers the barking you can try blocking it off. For example, by closing blinds so your dog can’t see people walking past your window, or by putting the radio on so they can’t hear cars driving past.
To be successful in reducing rehearsal, it’s essential to properly understand what is causing the barking. That way you can make the right adjustments. This is where professional help is really beneficial.
Your dog will feel less need to bark when feeling rested, relaxed & contented.
Activities including sniffing food from a snuffle mat, sniffing new scents in the garden & licking food from a Lickimat can all help to encourage a relaxed state of mind in your dog. Calm behaviours & barking aren’t really compatible together! If your dog struggles to settle down, then settle training is a great place to start.
The best thing to do, is seek expert help to help you move forwards. There’s lots that can be done to help depending on your specific situation.
If you’ve got a dog who barks at anyone & everyone who walks past your house from morning to evening, it might not be realistic to completely stop the barking. What may be achievable, is teaching your dog to give you one warning bark & then to settle down again.
On the other hand, if your dog barks for attention, you might be able to teach them to settle down & offer a different behaviour to the usual barking.
It’s possible to train your dog to be quiet using a cue, but this is something you should seek help with.
So why get help? Well… the fact that excessive barking can be really disruptive & frustrating means it’s well worth investing in some support to make change. Having tailored advice, which will suit your individual situation really can make a huge difference, to both your life & your dog’s wellbeing.
A benefit to a bark
One positive is that dog barking & communication can be really interesting. I know, I’m a dog behaviour geek, so I would say that, but it really can!
Listening to a bark can help you interpret what your dog is trying to say. For example, if the bark is a low pitched woof, it may be a warning about something. Or, a high pitched whine could mean your dog’s wanting something.
Managing excessive barking is all about getting a balance. That is, between letting our dogs express themselves & carry out a natural behaviour, while ensuing it’s not disruptive & causing a headache for all around, including the neighbours!
With an individual & supportive approach, it’s totally achievable to go from noisy to peaceful!
If you’ve got a new dog who likes to use their voice just a little bit too much & you’d like some advice… Get in touch!
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