We’ve all been here before: your dog won’t. Stop. Barking.
He’s barking at your neighbor out the window, he’s barking for dinner, he’s barking at the cat. You think he actually may have just barked at his own fart. You’re about to lose your mind if Fido doesn’t stop barking. Right meow.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help you figure out why Fido is barking and some solutions to help curb it.
First up is figuring out how long Fido barks and what the cause it. Some clever detective work may be needed to get this info, especially if the barking occurs when you’re not home.
5 Tips to Reduce Barking:
- Understand why Fido barks and address those issues
- Distract Fido from barking and reinforce him when he is quiet
- Accommodate Fido in your home instead of leaving him outside
- Entertain you dog physically and mentally
- Consult a professional dog trainer or vet
Why is Fido barking?
1. Social Isolation resulting in Frustration:
It’s simple – Fido is bored, lonely and is barking to pass the time. This may happen because he’s left along for long periods of time, his environment is relatively barren (no companions or toys), is a puppy or is a particularly active dog (like the herding or sporting breeds) who needs to be kept occupied to be happy.
Recommendations: expand your dog’s world and increase his ‘people time’ in the following way
- Walk Fido at least twice daily. They shouldn’t just be considered potty breaks
- Teach Fido fetch
- Teach Fido some tricks and practice them throughout the day
- Take a training class with your dog. See classes offered at CHS here.
- When you’re not home, consider leaving Fido with interactive feeding toys like Kongs to keep him occupied.
- Crate train Fido so he understands it a safe place when you’re gone
- Keep your dog inside when you’re unable to supervise him
- Angry neighbors? Let them know you’re actively working to fix the issue
- If possible, take your dog to work with you
- Look into doggy daycare if you have a well-socialized dog or a dog walker if Fido doesn’t enjoy doggy playtime.
2. Territorial and Protective
Fido may be guarding his territory (either his house, yard or even you) if the barking occurs when there are ‘intruders’ around. This can include anyone from the mail man, to kids walking to school to dogs in adjacent yards.
- Teach Fido the ‘quiet’ command. When he begins to bark at a passerby, allow two or three barks, say ‘quiet’ and interrupt his barking with a shaker can or throwing a toy near him. This surprise should stop the barking momentarily. While he’s quiet, say ‘good quiet’ and toss him a tasty (re: high value. The smellier the better) treat. The loud noise isn’t to punish him. It is to distract him long enough into being quiet, so you can reward him.
- Desensitize him to the triggers that set Fido off. Teach him that the people he views as intruders are actually awesome and mean good things! Ask someone your dog isn’t super familiar with to help you with this. Reward Fido when he is able to be calm around this new person – start with some distance and close it as you see fit. The point isn’t to overwhelm Fido, but to reward him for calm behaviour.
- Anytime Fido barks and you are able to get him to respond to his name or a command, toss him a treat.
3. Fears and Phobias
Fido may simply be afraid. Barking may not seem like something Fido would do when he’s scared, but it definitely is. If Fido is afraid, the barking will occur when he’s exposed to loud noise like thunder, fireworks or construction noise. Your dog’s posture will tell you a lot – ears back, tail held low.
- Figure out exactly what Fido fears and desensitize him to it. This may take some professional help and you may consider enlisting a dog trainers help.
- During fireworks, parties or storms, mute the outside noise by putting Fido in a basement or windowless bathroom with a TV, radio or fan.
4. Separation Issues
Fido may have separation issues if the barking occurs only when you’re gone – starting right when you leave or shortly after you leave. How do you know if Fido has separation issues? It’s possible if he shows a strong attachment to you. Follows you room to room, greets your frantically or reacts anxiously when you prepare to leave. A sudden life change may also cause separation issues like a recent move, change to the family schedule, death or loss of a family member (human or animal) or a period at a shelter or boarding kennel.
- Give them something to do! Kong’s are an excellent option!
- Ensure Fido has had adequate exercise prior to leaving him.
- Crate train Fido to teach him to be left alone – in other words, sleep and be comfy!
- Speak to your vet or the CHS about purchasing an Adaptil diffusor.
How do we know when Fido’s separation issues need a professional help? Is Fido destructive at points of entrances and exits, like a door or a window? Dopes Fido seem to get anxious when you begin your routine to leave? Do the Kong’s and treats you give Fido before you leave remain untouched? Are there accidents when you get home? If you are nodding your head ‘Yes!” to several of these questions? It is time to consult a professional dog trainer and your veterinarian.
5. Attention Seeking
Attention seeking barking occurs only when you’re present and is to get your attention. Whether you’re focused on a conversation, something on the TV or making dinner, Fido is not pleased your attention is elsewhere. Talk about a Needy Nancy!
Ensure that when training or playing is finished, you clearly indicate its over. Show both hands or simply turn away. Fido has learned that barking will get your attention, so if you do not provide any the behavior will eventually extinguish. Often the barking will increase prior to extinguishing since it has worked in the past to get your attention. Your patience is about to get tested. As are your ear drums
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