Perhaps one of the most persistently complained of dog behavior problems is barking. Fortunately, being able to successfully stop dog barking is, however, something that most owners should be able to accomplish provided they properly understand the underlying causes of this particular type of dog behavior problem, and implement strategies to address them…
Firstly, it’s important not to forget that dogs are supposed to bark. It’s an inherent dynamic of their psyche, it’s one of the ways they communicate. Consider this, if someone was entering your back yard to burgle your home, you’d want your dog to bark, right?
However, if your dog barks to a degree that far exceeds need or duty, it is possible to stop dog barking by consistent conditioning, thereby eliminating the unnecessary and often frustrating noise (the part driving you and your neighbors increasingly nuts). By doing so, you’ll improve your relationship with your pet by being prepared to listen and respond appropriately when your dog’s barking response is invoked (not to mention improving your relationship with those suffering needlessly next door). Your goal is to be able to fulfill the dual role of master and best friend.
Fear-Based BarkingMost dog barking problems develop during 6-8 months of age, during a period where your dog’s barking is more likely to be fear-based than protective. The problem is exacerbated in dogs with limited socialization. The less confident your dog, the more likely they are to be prone to excessive barking. Positive experiences and reinforcement of your dog’s level of confidence can have dramatic effects on their levels of barking, particularly during this phase of their development. Whether your dog is young or older, it is essential that problem or fear-based barking is not reinforced by your response to it. You want your dog to feel confident. When your dog displays uneasy behavior (such as shackles risen) it’s often our natural reaction to try to reassure. We might pat them, and tell them ok, but frequently in doing so, we communicate with a slightly concerned tone. We, of course, are concerned…we want our dog to be calm! But to our dog, they interpret this as us reinforcing that there is something to be fearful of. The best response is to simply and confidently tell your dog there’s nothing wrong. Adopt an ‘everything is great’ attitude, and your dog will follow.