Thursday, 21 February 2013

Why Won't You Stop Barking?

Birds sing; frogs croak; and a dog barks, whines and howls. If you have a dog, you better expect some barking, whining or howling. It is unrealistic and unfair to think you can train your dog to stop barking altogether. However, you, your neighbors and your dog will all be much happier if the barking is under control.
Dogs who are socially isolated or confined for long periods without supervised exercise need some outlet for their pent-up energy. A dog who is left alone all day is likely to take up barking as a hobby because no one is there to control him. In no time at all, barking becomes an enjoyable habit. And for many dogs, once they start barking, they tend to continue barking for the sheer fun of it.
Your dog may be barking excessively because you unintentionally trained him to do so. Fido speaks and you obey. "Woof" and you open the door to let him out to investigate or play in the backyard. "Woof" and you open it again to let him in. "Woof" and he gets a treat, "woof" for a tummy-rub . . . you get the picture. Your dog has learned to get attention through barking. It is easy to fall into this trap because the very nature of barking gets your attention. For the same reason, it is easy to forget to praise and reward your dog when the barking stops.

The first step in obtaining peace and quiet is to realize that lots of barking is caused by the dog being lonely, bored, frustrated or frightened. These are all situations that you can help to alleviate. A well-exercised, happy dog is more likely to sleep all day while you are not home. Spend time playing with, training and exercising your dog.
Dogs are social animals. They need friends and companionship. Take your dog to the same dog park daily or weekly and let her make doggy friends. Dogs romping around and playing together tire rapidly and will sleep happily while recovering from the good, hardy play session.

"Stop Barking!"

It's no wonder people have barking problems with their dogs. Most dogs have no clue as to whether barking is something good or something bad. Sometimes when the dog barks, he is ignored (owner in a jolly mood). Other times, the dog is encouraged (owner sees suspicious stranger outside the house). And yet other times, the dog is yelled at (owner has a headache). Humans are consistently inconsistent. In order to help your dog know your rules, teach him what they are. Here is a good rule to start with: Barking is OK until the dog is told to "Stop Barking." 
This rule needs to be re-enforced in a positive and clam manner, as are most training rules.  It’s sometimes tempting to use treats to get your way, but you don’t want your training to become dependent on the “good behaviour = treat” rule.  Rewards ARE important, but they don’t always have to be edible.  Also keep in mind that yelling at your dog to “STOP BARKING!” will be more than slightly counter-productive; if anything, Fido may think that you’ve decided to join in on the woof-fest and the barking will escalate.

In short, we’re not asking dogs to stop barking – that would be like asking humans to stop talking, but as pet-parents and pet owners we do need to take responsibility for any “over-barking” dogs we might have.  Thank Fido for alerting you to a situation that may be dangerous and/or alarming to him, and then assert that you have said situation under control. Just remember every training and learning situation must be dealt with calmly, gently and consistently. 
 Referenced from Perfect Paws

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws

1 comment: