Dog Training: Dealing with excessive barking

0 Comments Posted by tcahvet in Pet Information on Friday, May 30th, 2014.

 Dealing with excessive barking


Dogs bark for different reasons: There’s watchdog barking, request barking, “spooky” barking, and boredom barking. Though people find barking annoying, it isn’t annoying to dogs. Rather, it’s one of a variety of ways that dogs express themselves. To other dogs, each bark has a tone that communicates something specific and significant. Controlling excessive barking with training is more than possible. In fact, it can and should be fun. Here’s how to keep each type of barking to a minimum:

Watchdog barking. Many dogs consider it their job to warn you that someone dangerous is at the door. Rather than trying to take your dog’s job away, you can teach her to bark just once (with a cue like “bark” or “who’s there?”), and then leave it for something more fun. Practice by stationing a helper outside to knock on the door. After one bark comes out of the dog’s mouth, give another cue (like “enough” or “OK”), then get her involved in fetching a favorite toy, which you can keep near the door. If your dog does not enjoy retrieving, use food rewards. Here’s how to do it:

1 Give the cue: “Who’s there?”

2 Have the person knock on the door.

3 When the dog barks, give the next cue (“enough” or “OK”) and show the dog the toy or treat.

4 Start playing with the toy or give the dog the treat.

Repeat many times until the dog knows the game. The toy you pick should be used exclusively for practicing this behavior. Soon, the dog will bark with the cue “Who’s there?” (no knock needed) and she will stop on the cue “OK” and wait for you to play or offer a treat. If she starts to bark again after you use the “OK” cue, do not reward her. Practice this routine many times to reinforce the desired behavior. Real life situations, of course, are the real test. You might want to put a note on your door explaining that you will answer after a short delay.

If your dog starts barking the minute someone pulls into the driveway, use the same sequence as above, except have your helper drive up in a car (instead of knocking at the door).

Request barking. Dogs often bark when they are excited, perhaps anticipating a walk or meal. If your dog does too much of this request barking, do not reward her until after the barking has stopped. Ignore all barking as though you have lost your hearing. Then, when the dog has been quiet for a decent interval, give her what she wants — food or a walk. In so doing, you teach your dog that being quiet has its rewards. To reinforce this behavior, you can give her praise or something to chew on if she is lying down quietly.

“Spooky” barking. This type of barking is provoked by fear and it normally comes with some body language. To scare off the source of her fear, your dog may have her hair up and her tail between her legs. She may be very rigid and bounce on her front legs. Your dog may be fearful if she is under-socialized; the solution may be more positive exposure to the world. A dog training class can be a helpful way to introduce her to new people, places and sounds. Make socializing fun: New people can offer treats and trips to town can include treats for being brave. Remember not to reward your dog while she is barking; reward her only when she has relaxed. This strategy may take some time, but a happy, well-adjusted dog is a joy to be around.

Boredom barking. This kind of barking is common when dogs are not receiving enough interaction with their family. Because dogs are such social animals, it is stressful for them to be alone for long periods of time. If your dog is alone all day, she will need a significant amount of attention once you come home. To help relieve her boredom during the day, supply her with durable rubber and nylon toys to chew on, like Kongs and Nylabones. Also, consider bringing her to doggie daycare a few days a week or asking someone to come by your house during your work week to take her for walks.

Source: Best Friends Magazine

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