Baku the Dream Eater

Baku the Dream Eater
Baku (source: the noominarium)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How to Deal with Nuisance Barking

As we get into the warmer months, your canine friend will want to be outside, or at the very least, watching out of the windows at the world.  This is great, unless you have a dog that has an opinion about everything, and wants everyone to know what’s going on;  shouting at everything...leaves, dogs, cars, garbage, you get the point. If your dog has developed a habit of barking,  especially if he barks for a long time, or during odd hours, you could be dealing with a case of nuisance barking.

The first thing to do to help stop this behavior is to determine why your dog is barking.  Here are some common reasons:

Boredom can cause a dog to lash out vocally.  If your dog is alone a lot or confined to a crate or room while you’re away, they may become bored and restless,and they may start barking to try to get attention.  Dogs are pack animals, and don’t like to be alone, so barking can try to alert the rest of their pack.

Anxiety can cause barking to help alleviate the stress, because, in their minds, it will bring the pack closer to soothe the barker. It's a higher pitched barking, and can include howling or crying.

Alert barking is a little bit different than some of the more persistent barking that you’ll hear from dogs who are merely lonely.  Sharp, loud barks when someone such as a neighbor or the mailman is near the home are more for warning the pack that something is happening.  Of course, if you’re dealing with a nuisance barker, that warning might be aimed at things that you don’t need to worry about.  

Response barking is when your dog is replying to another dog in the neighborhood or apartment building.  My own dog used to bark at the dog downstairs, because she would bark at him. To them, that might have just been a conversation.  

Playfulness is another reason that dogs will bark.  Like children, they bark to get the other dog’s attention so that they can play, or bark during play.

These examples can be considered nuisance barking if it goes on for a long period of time or no one is around to stop it. It can be disruptive to home life and cause neighbors to file grievances with the township or home association.  This may affect the ability to own dogs in your neighborhood, and of course it certainly doesn’t make neighbors friendly!

So, how do you stop your dog from barking excessively?  
Training, training, training!  Obedience training can do wonders for how you can control what sounds your dog makes and when he makes them.  All dogs, no matter what age they are, can benefit from a training class, and this will instill manners and  make it easier for you to end up as the alpha dog in your pack!

Exercise is key as well.  A properly exercised dog is going to be happy and will have less reason to bark (well, except if your neighbor’s dogs are barking and yours is only answering them!)  Walking, running, playing fetch or frisbee or catch, even indoor games can be great exercise, both mentally and physically. After these activities your pup may just be too tired to bark!

Make sure that you are correcting your pet each and every time she barks.  A single command, in a serious and stern voice, should curb the barking as soon as it starts.   Don’t use the word “No!”  but something like “No bark!” or “Quiet!”  should work.  “No” is too broad of a term for the command you want, and may confuse your dog.  Using small treats to reward your dog will help, but make sure she’s quiet for a few seconds before rewarding her, that way she will understand exactly why she’s receiving the treat.  

When my dog was in his prime, he’d spend his days on our balcony in the sun, and I would tell him, “If you bark, you have to come inside.”   As soon as he’d start to bark, I’d give him the code word for being quiet, and I would bring him inside.   After a while doing this, anytime he’d bark, he would just come in right afterward, because he realized I’d be there to tell him to stop.  It was actually quite comical, because he’d come inside, looking very guilty, as if to say, “Sorry, mom, I barked again”....

If you are crating your pup during the night, or while you’re out of the house, and you worry that they might bark or whine all day, try leaving a TV or radio on while you’re gone.  This may help your dog by making him think you’re really there but in a different room.

Understanding why your dog is barking, and training them to stop will definitely curb any nuisance barking and ensure that your relationship with your neighbors and your pet stay positive.