Parking Dog Barking: How to Stop Excessive Dog Barking
Barking, along with whining, howling and growling, is a dog’s natural way of communicating. It tells us how they are feeling, be it hungry, excited, stressed or afraid. Excessive barking, however, is a problem that requires intervention. This constant barking is generally a symptom of a deeper issue, and finding its root is the best cure. While it’s often just a bad habit, it’s also possible that a barking dog is uncomfortable or in pain. Pet owners have a responsibility to listen to their dogs, ensuring they are being properly cared for.
Some of the most common reasons for barking are:
- Fear A startling sound or fleeting object can trigger barking
- Boredom Dogs that are left idle or alone for long periods at a time tend to bark to express their need for engagement and stimulation
- Greeting If your dog barks excitedly with its tail wagging when it encounters a person or dog, that’s its way of saying “hey there! Let’s play!”
- Attention seeking Dogs bark because they want something, whether it be a walk, food or water
- Separation anxiety Some dogs become anxious when left alone. This is most common in younger dogs, who may also exhibit signs of anxiety with pacing, irritability and destructiveness
- Territorial aggression It’s your dog’s instinct to warn you of intruders. Unfortunately, they have trouble differentiating between an armed burglar and a friendly postman
- Excitement Puppies, in particular have more energy and can get overexcited easily. For some, all it takes is the sound of the word “walk” to set them off.
How to Treat Excessive Barking
Excessive barking isn’t going to disappear overnight. It will require work, patience, consistency and practice. There is no miracle treatment, nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution. Solving the issue will likely take a lot of trial and error. No two dogs are the same. However, there are some tried and tested methods that have proved to be successful. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Speak calmly and firmly. Yelling can create a negative behaviour loop. Lead by example and hopefully your dog will follow suit
- Train your dog to understand the word “quiet”. Your dog doesn’t have to be best in show, but it’s good to have the basics down. Teaching them to sit, stay and be quiet can help establish authority and help you win back control
- Challenge your dog physically and mentally. Dogs that bark excessively are said to have a pent-up energy. When a dog is fully charged, it’s best to release this energy in a healthy and productive way. Try increasing your dog’s physical activity. Inject some variety into your regime by switching between walking, playing fetch and practising agility.
- Let your dog socialise. One reason why dogs bark is because they want company. A social dog who is familiar with various people and dogs is much less likely to bark at strangers
- Let your dog play. Make sure your dog has some toys and puzzles to play with, to keep them occupied when you’re not around. Shake things up by playing games with the toys, e.g. hide treats inside it and watch as your dog tries to retrieve it
If these solutions have no effect, some pet owners turn to bark collars to control the problem. Collars should be a last resort and ideally a temporary solution. There are many different options available, including the following:
- Ultrasonic beeping collar This collar can be activated by sound or remote. This means that it can beep automatically when your dog barks. Make sure you know all the facts before using one on your dog
- Citronella collar This collar releases a spray of citronella at the sound of barking. Some breeds are more sensitive to its effects than others, it will depend on your pooch so seek expert advice first
- “The Husher” A muzzle-like device that applies physical force to restrain your dog’s mouth movements. The dog should still be able to drink, but attempting to bark will make him/her fatigued
- Shock Collar Self-explanatory, this collar administers a light jolt of electricity. They can be controlled by sound or remote. These collars are very controversial so do your research if you’re considering one.
Don’t ignore excessive barking. You must first understand the cause of the issue – to modify your dog’s behaviour long term. It’s essential for both you and your dog’s health and happiness. If you cannot solve the problem alone, you can always seek professional advice from a vet or trainer. Positive reinforcement is the way to go, and if practiced properly and consistently, should improve things. Keep the collars on hold for extreme cases.
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