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Why in tarnation is that dog barking again – how to deal with it

How to stop a dog from barking

Unwanted dog barking puts nerves to a severe test, often leading to neighborhood issues.But why does a dog bark? What are solutions to reduce their howling? Here’s a breakdown and some handy tips.

Dog barks to communicate

To make itself understood, a dog adopts different postures, emits odors, urinates to leave information, and barks. It’s a normal and innate behavior.

Why to dogs barkDepending on environment, situation, and dog breed, vocalizations will vary.

  • Barking to signal presence or to get your attention.
  • Whining and crying to express pain, worry, or impatience.
  • Howling when the master is absent or danger is imminent.

How to reduce barking?

Generally, reducing or stopping barking boils down to one thing: training from a young age.

Choosing a good breeder is therefore crucial. A well-socialized puppy will be less fearful and more comfortable. It’ll only bark when needed, not for any little thing.

Identify trigger elements:

  • Playing
  • Alerting
  • Greeting or making contact
  • Defending territory, threat
  • Getting attention or wanting to do something
  • Anxiety (read: separation anxiety in dogs)
  • Pain, illness
  • Loss of bearings in elderly dogs

Once you’ve identified situations that trigger barking, you’ll need to retrain your dog.

Train a dog to reduce barking:

If your dog barks to alert, defend its territory, or threaten, teaching it the recall command is vital for distraction. Call it to you adding “Stop! Quiet!” or “No!” followed by its name” firmly. Offer a treat if it obeys. The dog will understand that when it stops barking and returns to you, it gets rewarded. Practice exercising this with them.

  • For example, ask a member of your household to press the doorbell button. If your dog barks, command “Quiet!” followed by a treat. Gradually, the dog will get used to it and lose interest in the sound of the doorbell.

If your dog barks to get attention (to go out, etc.), you should ignore it.

  • By responding to its demand, it’ll understand that it should bark to get your attention.
  • If you give in after 10 minutes, it’ll think it should bark long and loud to get a reaction from you.
  • It’s tough, but ignoring is what works best.

If your dog barks to greet you, ignore it. When you have guests, confine it in a room. Let it come back out once everyone is settled.

Dog barking non-stop

  • Due to anxiety when their owners are away.
  • In case of hyperactivity.
  • Older dogs losing their bearings and becoming senile.

These particular issues need a vet visit. Professionals can prescribe anti-depressants (or pheromone-based devices) for anxious patients, or medication to stimulate the brain of older dogs. Seeing a behaviorist is highly recommended.

Anti-barking and training collars

Collar that stops dog from barkingWhy you should avoid anti-barking collars:

They’re ethically questionable, especially those that damage dog’s skin with repeated electric shocks.

Training collars can be useful:

  • Collar that sprays citronella or lemongrass extracts:

Extremely unpleasant for dogs, the smell surprises them and halts their barking. It triggers automatically and is rechargeable.

  • Collar that makes a noise or vibration:

Harmless for dogs, the owner triggers it with a remote when the barking is deemed inappropriate. There are models that trigger automatically. They’re rechargeable.

Smart tip about barking dogs

Unemployment, sick leave, or government-enforced lockdowns – all situations where you and your dog live together non-stop.

When life returns to normal, your dog might express anxiety through loud and untimely barking. The name for this condition is hyper-attachment. During these periods, it’s recommended to isolate your dog in a room for one or two hours a day without any distractions. This will help them get used to being alone.

Food for thought:

“One barking dog makes more noise than a hundred silent ones.” Tibetan Proverb

Images: dreamstime: Willeecole; Pixabay: Explorer Bob, Ralph

Written by Lydie Dronet | With over 20 years in the field of animal care, Lydie shares her paws-on expertise and experience. Other topics she loves delving into are nutrition and the medicinal uses of plants.
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