It’s A Vet’s Life by Vetsavers of St Thomas’ Road, Spalding
Excessive barking is a common complaint with dog owners and their neighbours.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons – boredom, as a warning, because they are lonely, in fear, to communicate, to get attention and for fun.
Some breeds, like many herding breeds, may be more vocal than others. For example, a Shetland sheepdog is a breed prone to barking.
They use vocalizing as part of herding.
How can I control my dog’s barking?
The easiest thing to do is not allow barking to become a bad habit. As soon as your puppy or dog joins your house, you need to start teaching what will and will not be allowed.
Use a firm and quiet command such as no barking or enough and reinforce it with praise as soon as the dog quiets down. Use a firm but not yelling voice, yelling can sound like barking and make the situation worse as you are barking as well! Show the dog that you really like it when he is quiet. Just shouting NO can sound like a bark and get your dog even more excited and barky!
Reward the dog for not barking
As soon as the dog stops barking, you need to reinforce the stopping of barking with a treat and praise. No puppy is born knowing commands. You have to teach that each command has an action and if that action is done, good things will follow. Positive motivation is a great training technique!
Be careful not to inadvertently praise behavior you do not want. Cuddling and stroking a barking dog can give the dog the impression you like what it is doing.
Barking during play
If your dog barks during play, calm the play down. Relax the dog and start again. Keep play under control and integrate training into the play.
The best thing to do to help with barking is not to allow it to become a habit in the first place.
A few things you can do are:
1) Train from day one what will and will not be allowed. Remember, some breeds are more prone to barking, but any dog can be a nuisance barker.
2) Teach a command that lets the dog know you want him to be quiet like ‘no bark’ or ‘enough’.
3) Keep your dog inside when you are not home. Dogs left outside alone all day are more prone to nuisance barking.
4) Obedience training.
5) Adequate exercise, proper attention to him, mental and physical stimulation. A dog that gets what he needs mentally and physically is less apt to be a problem barker.
6) Teach your dog when he can bark and that once you have checked out a situation, he can stop alerting you.
7) Try to find the trigger of the bark – like neighborhood kids teasing the dog possibly.
8) Do not inadvertently teach the dog that constant barking is good.
9) Positive training methods to encourage the dog to stay quiet when told
10) Do not let the dog get away with barking for hours before you tell him to stop. The dog may be getting set to stop anyhow and he is getting attention from you, increasing the chance of barking if he is doing it for attention. Stop the bark when it first starts.
Dogs allowed to become nuisance barkers disturb the whole neighbuorhood – even if you are not bothered by it others in the area will be. Do not allow your dog to become a nuisance in your community.