Dogs have evolved to emit warning barks – it’s a natural part of their psychology. However, when a dog barks uncontrollably, it can be a sign of stress, excitement, or even boredom. The following article discusses strategies for addressing excessive barking.
Most dogs bark. It’s normal, and a mechanism designed to warn packs against danger. It’s also an impulse you don’t want to eliminate or penalize – it’s useful! It can also be an indication that your dog is feeling joyous; when your dog barks happily while playing in the park, you don’t want them to stop exhibiting their feelings of elation and instead feel punished. A better strategy is to recognize the different circumstances that lead to barking and address them individually. Here are different scenarios that may lead to barking.
- Sudden noises or stressors.
- When they want attention.
- When they’re happy or excited.
- When they’re warning you of an intruder or danger.
Though there are four different occasions for barking, each situation stems from either a dog’s strategic or emotional response. Strategic barking is when they want attention or are warning you of what they perceive as a threat. However, you are in control of the attention barking, and you can effectively reprogram your dog by giving them a more effective attention-getting option. Whenever your dog barks to get a response from you, you must ignore it, and wait for a more acceptable technique. When they offer an acceptable alternative, reward them by giving them what they want. Your dog will eventually substitute behaviors.
Warning barking, on the other hand, isn’t something you want to deprogram, but instead control. When your dog begins barking at the prospect of an intruder (and you recognize there isn’t any danger) use their training to interrupt the barking instinct. Give a “quiet” command. When the barking stops, offer a reward, though it’s important to never reward them during their barking.
Emotional barking – from scary or triggering situations – can be addressed by removing the stressors or employing calming solutions (a Thundershirt, for example). Emotional barking from pleasant situations can be modified by ignoring the barking until it stops. If they start barking with excitement at the prospect of going for a walk, put the leash down while they bark, and do not pick it up again until they stop.
When your dog is physically healthy, they will be more receptive to correction. Keep your dog on a vet-recommended nutritional program that is appropriate for your dog’s age, size, and health concerns. Good, affordable pet food brands include Nutrish, Beneful, and Zignature dog food. DCM, obesity, and anxiety disorders can be managed partly through an effective diet program.
Remember: the majority of dog barking situations occur because your dog has learned barking is an effective way to get what they want. When you remove the incentive, you can remove the behavior.
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