Reasons Dogs Bark
At the simplest level, dogs bark to communicate.
Your dog’s bark is just as unique as your voice!
Interestingly, I can pick out my dog’s bark from a kennel full of other barking dogs.
I also, typically, can tell what they are trying to communicate through the tone of their bark.
I know when my male dog is frustrated at being left outside at night because he yips.
I can also tell when he thinks someone is too close to our yard.
I also know his excited bark.
All of these barks are used to give me information.
Different breeds even have different barks.
Did you know there is a breed of dog that can’t bark?
Although Basenjis can’t bark, they certainly do still make noise!
The Worst Bark?
I think the worst bark is the boredom bark.
After all, your dog doesn’t have a facebook page.
He can’t snapchat his friends down the road.
Most dogs don’t even have real “jobs”; think police dog, therapy dog, service dog, working herding dogs.
So, when left to their own devices dogs think it can be fun to listen to themselves bark.
On some level, I am sure they are also communicating with dogs in the neighborhood.
Prevention is always better than trying to deal with a problem barker. This is accomplished by properly training your dog.
It is also critical to not encourage barking sometimes while getting frustrated at your barker at other times.
Dogs don’t really understand why you might think it is funny when they bark at the doorbell that rings on the TV but you don’t want them to bark at your mom when she comes to visit.
Come up with a consistent plan and don’t ever reward barking, and YES laughing is a form of reward for dogs (dogs definitely recognize when we are happy and what that looks like.
How to Deal With a Barker
1. Train Barking On Command
Although it seems counter-intuitive, getting the barker to bark on command, it is the #1 best way to deal with this behavior.
It is essentially getting control over the behavior that you want or don’t want.
I think some behaviors that are instinctual are difficult for your dog to learn to control.
Your herding dog wants to herd, your earth dog wants to dig, your working dog wants to protect his space.
However, all of these dogs can and DO learn to control their instincts so that they can work on command.
Working dogs are not ON all of the time, they learn to do it only when asked.
Once the dog knows how to bark on command, you can then teach him to be quiet on command.
I have a dog that LOOOOOVES to hear herself bark. The nice thing about that is I can ask for it from time to time, but ultimately I have control over it.
I can also ask her to be quiet.
So if someone gets too close to my van while I am pumping gas alone, I can ask her to bark. Then just as quickly I can tell her to be quiet.
It keeps her skills sharp and it keeps anyone from coming up to my van when I am alone and ask for food or money.
We have actually created a game to help stop your dog from barking.
Click here to download the next step of the Quiet Command.
2. Don’t Reward Barking
Other than putting it on cue and rewarding the behavior when you ask, as mentioned above, be very careful that you aren’t inadvertently rewarding the behavior.
I house-sit for a very difficult dog. He likes to stick his toys under the couch just out of his reach, and then he barks in my face. It is clear that his owners get up and move the couch when he barks at them.
For many pet sitting sessions I thought I was going to explode or implode when he did this hahaha.
However, he now understands that I never play that game.
I get up and go into another room or put him outside, but I certainly don’t get his ball for him.
Again, barking in and of itself without being on command is not cute!
3. Don’t Yell
Yelling isn’t going to help.
Yelling may actually seem like you are joining in the barking with him.
Plus, dogs have great hearing, he doesn’t need you to yell.
You can tell him to be “quiet” but it doesn’t require yelling!
Remain calm and make sure that the barking equals something that the dog doesn’t want.
For example: if the dog barks for attention, then putting him outside or somewhere else will teach him to be quiet if it equals something that he doesn’t want.
If he is driving you crazy with his barking, it is probably a hint that he lacks the appropriate amount of exercise and mental stimulation!
Exercise should be a big part of your dog’s life!
You don’t have to take him for a stroll around the block.
You don’t have to take him for a 13 mile run (although this would certainly be more helpful).
You can take him outside for a great game of retrieve and add some obedience to his regimen.
I don’t play ball with my dogs without making them sit, down, stand, heel, etc before I throw their toy!
This stimulates them mentally and physically and takes about 1/2 the effort from you 😉
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