Man’s best friend can be an annoying housemate
It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect your dog to never bark, nor would it be desirable. After all, your dog’s barking may alert you to an intruder in your home, and there’s no such thing as a “Hi!” From your best friend to lift your spirits.
But for dog owners whose animals bark excessively, barking can become a headache nuisance, not to mention a source of tension between neighbors. If you have a dog that has a problem with barking tendencies, here are 10 things you can do to calm down the barking while keeping your dog happy.
Determine the cause of the problem
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, and some dogs are vocal about defending what they consider to be their territory. When another person or animal approaches, your pet may feel duty bound to let them know they are not welcome. Dogs may also bark from loneliness, separation anxiety, or fear.
Don’t bark at your dog
When you feel frustrated, you may be tempted to raise your voice. But always resist the urging – your dog may think you are joining in the barking, and this may cause him to bark even more. Instead, speak in a low, calm voice.
Keep it simple
Dogs can be trained to recognize certain words, but it is important that you remain consistent with your commands. Choose whatever synonym for “quiet” you prefer, but always use the same word when you want your dog to be quiet.
Reward good behaviour
Dogs don’t understand that their barking is bothering you or causing your neighbors to file noise complaints with the local police department. On the other hand, treats make perfect sense for your dog. When your dog barks, use the one-word command softly. Once he stops, reward him with a treat.
Exercise is the key to stopping dogs from barking
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve your stress, and it’s an excellent medicine for anxious animals, too. Make sure your four-legged friends get plenty of exercise every day. If possible, time your exercise session before your usual problem barking periods. As a bonus, you can have a nice walk or a trip to the park before work—and it’s a fun way to start your day, too.
Nibble the bark at the bud
The longer you allow your dog to continue barking, the more ingrained the habit will become. It is always best to treat barking issues as soon as they arise, rather than letting your pet get used to habitual barking.
Get your dog examined
Barking is normal behavior for dogs, but there is an outside possibility that excessive vocalization could indicate a medical problem. If your previously quiet pet suddenly starts making a lot of noise, it’s not a good idea to stop by the vet for a check-up.
Limit exposure to stimuli to reduce barking dogs
For territorial barkers, it may be helpful to limit exposure to outside stimuli by keeping window treatments closed while you are away, or by installing outdoor pet privacy fencing. Dogs have keen hearing, so they may still be triggered by the sounds of people or animals encroaching on their territory but limiting their ability to see action can be beneficial.
Hire someone to check on your dog
Dogs are pack animals, and their desire for companionship is strong. If your dog barks while you’re away on business, it may be worth hiring a dog walker (or a trusted live child) to check in on him every day, and walk him while you’re away.
Keep this (formerly) barking dog amused
For dogs who are barking out of sheer boredom, it can be helpful to leave a few extra toys around for them to keep them occupied while you are away. Chew toys, treats, and other fun pastimes can help your pet avoid boredom and resist the urge to bark.
Special games for special occasions
Dogs, like children, often have favorite toys. It can be helpful to identify the toys your dog likes best and set a few aside for the times when barking is usually an issue. For example, you might keep your pet’s favorite treat puzzle toy out of reach until you leave for work. This way, your leaving becomes a special occasion rather than a worry.
Ignore the bark
This advice can be hard to follow, especially if you’re worried about annoying neighbors. But if you have conditioned your dog to expect that barking will elicit a response from you, you will have to undo that conditioning. The best method is to ignore the barking until it stops, then reward your pet for being calm.
Problem barking is one of the less pleasant aspects of dog ownership, but one that can be addressed with training and patience. Follow these tips, and you’ll find a few of them will work wonders for you and your closest friends.
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