How to Prevent Dog Barking Being an Issue?
There are many cases of social conflicts brought about by annoying barkers in the neighborhood. While some extreme measures exist and people have even been known to resort to drastic solutions to prevent dog barking – debarking or surgical removal of the vocal cord – we shall only consider the removal of the stimulus. Also bear in mind that barking is a normal canine behavior – it’s only a problem from our perspective.
Why Dogs Bark
There are various reasons why dogs bark, here are some of the most common ones:
- To alert their human and dog companions
- To join other dogs that are barking in chorus
- To warn us of an intruder
- To express or relieve frustration due to boredom
- A lack of freedom – again this is frustration
- To relieve discomfort from thirst, hunger, heat, cold, pain, loud noise and unfamiliar sounds
- To express excitement at his master’s homecoming
- If he is about to be taken for a walk, during play, before mealtime, and at seeing other dogs.
Instances When Its Probably Best to Prevent Dog Barking
It’s only when the dog vocalizes beyond our tolerance that we need to jump in and make some changes to maintain a peaceful household and neighborhood.
Generally, humans keep dogs as guards and watchers yet reprimand and punish them for barking at wrong people or at the wrong time. From the dog’s point of view, anybody or anything unfamiliar to him could be considered a threat. Our role then is to teach our dogs to stop barking when told to do so. Training for this includes a good amount of exposure to humans and other dogs in the neighborhood since you want your dog to alert you only to strangers, not to any moving object in his field of vision. This familiarization with neighbors will often reduce more than half of his daily barking. Walk your dog on a daily basis around the block to help with this. Allow him to interact with humans and other dogs as much as possible.
So how do we deal with the other half, or prevent dog barking stimuli in the first place? Often it’s down to circumstance – an old friend coming to visit, or being kept indoors for hours – the only practical solution is training your pet to become more comfortable with these kinds of situations. To properly instruct this, prepare some tasty treats and keep them ready near the door for those times a stranger knocks on your gate. When the dog alerts you, and it is a friend, call the dog’s name in a soothing tone of voice; stay as close to him as possible and calm him down with non- verbal signals like yawning and looking away. Some dogs calm down quickly while others just run out of energy and cease barking. Capture and reinforce that moment, give the treat in your hand to him and praise him lavishly while saying “it’s ok” or anything you wish to use as a cue.
This exercise will take several repetitions before your dog become conditioned to it. You may find it awkward to do in the presence of a person familiar to your dog, so asking some friends whom your dog does not recognize or other strangers to play roles will help a lot. Treats coming from the stranger will also contribute to a quicker calming effect on the dog. These methods will also help you prevent dog barking or any other bad dog behavior becoming a problem in the first place.
Besides excitement, barking is also stimulated by frustration. Increasing interaction with other dogs and setting up his own space to minimize the sight of other dogs will solve this.
Try not to yell, this will only encourage him to bark more, making him think you’re joining him.
Don’t hit him, this will only make him more aggressive, as he will associate the pain you’re inflicting on him with the presence of strangers.
Some barkers, especially boredom barkers, are unknowingly conditioned by the owners themselves. The dogs have learned that barking results in attention from their exasperated owners – who themselves have learned that confronting them keeps them quiet. In many cases, ignoring the problem and doing nothing is the easiest way to prevent dog barking!
When the dog barks with excitement, ignore it. When he stops barking capture & reinforce that. Give him praise, a treat or take him for a walk. If he starts up barking again, ignore him until he stops.
Through repetition of these techniques, you’ll be able to quell your dog’s sporadic outbursts quickly with a firm ‘NO’ or through body language alone. With a little patience, you can prevent dog barking being a problem quickly and easily.