If you’re a dog owner and have a “world class” barker in the house, you may already know the stress of shattered quiet or dealing with unhappy neighbors.
Dogs always bark for a reason. Studies have even shown that different barks express different emotions (though a few breeds, like the poodle and the American Staffordshire Terrier, appear limited in their vocal repertory). The more high-pitched, atonal and repetitive the bark, the more indicative it is of a dog under stress.
A recent study of 84 dogs from nine breeds, including Poodles, Weimaraners, American Staffordshire Terriers, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Bull Terriers and Muensterlaenders, recorded as many as a dozen variations of some types of barking among the dogs. Subtle variations even corresponded to “dialects” which were used by the dogs in identical situations at different times.
Although there is no difference in the percentage of excessive barkers between males and females, males tend to bark less once neutered because they’re less territorial. There’s also a breed difference in barkers; Many Beagles, Terriers, and some herding breeds tend to bark more – not surprising, since this is one of the characteristics for which they were bred.
Virtually all canine behavioral experts agree that the key to solving the problem of excessive barking is to understand what’s causing it. To solve problem barking, you’ll need some patience and understanding, but teaching your barker a couple of very basic obedience commands will help a lot, too.
Oddly enough, teaching your dog to bark on command is a good way to teach them also how to stop. By learning when barking is desirable, they also learn what your word is for when to stop.
What doesn’t work:
– Shouting “No” louder than the dog only makes things worse since the dog perceives this as YOU barking, too. It’s not a long term solution;
– Hugging or talking soothingly to the dog when barking is a “no no” because the dog comes to believe that there IS something of which to be concerned. Coddling simply reinforces barking.
– Striking the dog doesn’t address the cause of your dog’s barking. If your dog is barking out of anxiety, hitting her only adds betrayal to the list of what worries her since she looks to you for guidance, not pain.
– Throwing items AT the dog. This is a good way to ruin a show dog and also introduces another reason for the dog to bark. Throwing can-filled pennies is a method of distraction, but it needs to be done correctly. Keep reading.
– Crating or confining the dog to a small space for…