Tuesday Tails

Who doesn’t love an adorable puppy who’s just found its voice? There’s nothing cuter than when they’ve noticed their reflection in a mirror or encountered something unusual in their day, right? But when that pup grows up and continues to bark, it’s not as adorable, is it? What’s a responsible dog ‘pawrent’ supposed to do?

The problem with this kind of adorableness is too many dog pawrents actively encourage the barking as the puppy grows up into its world. What may have been cute at 10 weeks of age, can grate on people’s nerves, frighten passers-by or annoy the neighbors when that same 10 week old puppy is now a 10-year-old dog who still barks its head off.

I think we can all agree that barking is a form of communication. Did you know there are at least 7 different kinds of barks?

  • The ‘Hello’ Bark’ ~ Dog encounters people or other dogs and its body is relaxed and the tail is wagging.  This is a friendly greeting kind of bark.
  • Distress Bark ~ Barking at all movement or unexpected noises. Body is stiff and jumping forward may accompany each bark.
  • Territorial Bark ~ Beware, you’ve invaded my space.
  • Look at Me Bark ~ Vying for attention, treat, or play.
  • Communal Bark ~ Following the leader. Similar to the racket at a shelter.
  • Obsessive Bark ~  Repetitive barking often while running back and forth at a fence. One of my neighbors dog falls in this category. The dog often barks non-stop for hours on end.
  • Let Me Outa Here ~ A frustration bark when seeing a dog that cannot be greeted.

Obviously the last two types of barks are not welcome and need attention. And we’re not talking about screaming at the top of your lungs to ‘shut up’ like my neighbor. That dog needs an outlet for his energy, like a seriously long walk.

Naturally preventing of all barking (good luck even trying that strategy) is foolish. Barking is natural and the way dogs communicate. It is possible however to train a dog to stop barking. Be patient. A voice command such as “No Bark!” accompanied by a reward when complied with makes gains possible. When the dog starts to bark, particularly in the house, and you’ve given the “No Bark!” command (with loads of praise on compliance), follow-up with quick and timely delivered “Wanna a Treat?” question. Distraction can work wonders during training. Gradually reduce the number of treats followed by lots of praise but keep the praise ongoing. You can also use negative reinforcement (when the dog barks: tension is applied through a head halter or harness reminding your pet of your disapproval when you’ve given the “No Bark” command). We tend to find positive reinforcement is a far more effective way when it comes to all training sessions.

It’s not necessary to punish or berate your pup. ‘Barking’ back at your dog is the ultimate exercise in futility.

Other strategies to employ may include providing a crate for a safe spot for a fearful dog. Often times, barking is the result of boredom (as in the case of my neighbor dog). Exercise and mental stimulation helps dogs achieve balance. Remember dogs are creatures of habit and a deviation to their routine can trigger excessive barking. Best to stay with the game plan for the pawfect’ chill-dog.

Do you have any tips regarding how you addressed obsessive barking?

Live, love, bark! ❤

52 thoughts on “Tuesday Tails

  1. I didn’t dare watch that video for fear it would start Luke barking! LOL. For the most part, he will stop when I ask him to, as long as there isn’t something he feels is an imminent threat. If both dogs are outside barking, say at someone walking by, I will let them bark for a little bit but then I will call them into the house for a treat. I can’t understand people who let their dogs bark and bark…how does it not drive them crazy?

  2. I’m lucky that none of mine are real barkers. When they do bark to let me know that someone is at the door, I let them bark a few times and say “thank you for being good watch dogs”. After that, if they keep going they get the growly “hey” that I use for when they have to stop what they’re doing. I totally agree with giving them physical and mental outlets.

  3. Emma is notorious for the “look at me” bark, and it’s the WORST! She’s always saying – sorry, yelling – it to Sammie and it’s hard to get her to avert her attention elsewhere.

  4. I didn’t really find my bark until I was almost a year old. I tried to make up for lost time! The bipeds would distract me and taught me “quiet” as a command. Any barking I do is territorial, as I’m a guardian breed. The bipeds always check to see why I’m barking and thank me and then I’m quiet.

  5. Can’t say my dogs are barkers. When I first got Portia, I was afraid she had her vocal cords removed – it took me weeks before I heard her bark. Mainly, their bark is territorial or out of jealousy. Come to think of it, none of my dogs ever had barking issues. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  6. I love that you mention the types of barking, this is something people tend to forget, this is the dogs voice and they can’t be shut up permanently, sometimes they have a reason to bark. I also love that you use positive reinforcement! Everyone should be aware that yelling at your dog is simply joining him in his noise making and adding to the barkfest. We need to ignore until it stops and then reward so they understand it is good. Thank you for a lovely post!!

    1. Information about the different kinds of barking can save a pup from a shelter when people know what they’re dealing with (hopefully). Having had a couple dogs who barked, I had to learn why they were barking. And there’s no better way to combat unwanted behavior of any kind than through ‘pawsitive’ training. Always goes a long way to resolving issues. 😍

  7. We have a barker on our hands and it’s the Ridgeback’s they are very very very very very protective dogs so we get alot of (Territorial Bark ~ Beware, you’ve invaded my space.)
    Paisley (our black lab) rarely ever barks, unless she sees someone walking with crunches or really tall people wearing sunglasses or a hat kind of freak her out.

  8. Back when I dog-sat professionally, there was one dog ($2000 golden retriever) that’d been trained not to bark inside. She grunted when she wanted to go outside. Outside, she barked as much as any dog. I found the whole thing weird. They also had her e-fence set so that she wasn’t allowed upstairs. It kind of made me sad. What’s the point of having a dog if you’re not going to accept it being a dog?!?

  9. As has already been mentioned, dogs will bark for a reason. Identify the reason (we needed help with that for Ray), and address it, and the dog has no need to bark. Training a dog not to bark is totally wrong, as that is its natural alert “tool”. From my experience with Ray, there is no substitute for professional guidance in matters like this.

  10. HuMom tries to warn people about laughing & encouraging certain behaviors we know are not healthy such as obsessive barking, tail biting or possessive nipping/growling.

    Recently I started a new game in which I bark whenever I see huMom at the sink. She jokes that I am telling her to buy a dishwasher so she can play with me instead of doing housework.
    What I want is a treat. I even run to where they are kept & while looking back & forth from her & the treat jar I bark.
    I get one treat but if I continue to bark she will then ignore me & go upstairs. No point in barking. Sometimes she makes me do my routine (doggie tricks) & then I get a treat.

    As for barking my head off outside, that’s allowed. We live rurally so I am not bothering anyone. I like to talk to the little dog down the street; we can’t see one another but we can hear each other quite well & have wooftastic conversations.

    I can be very reactive & can get extremely worked up & bark none stop when I am in a situation that I feel is too exciting or too overwhelming. HuMom will always get me out of those situations immediately & calms me down with OCT, calm words & ear rubbing.

    Thanks for a pawsome post!

    Nose nudges,
    CEO Olivia

    1. Sounds like your huMom has got things under control. In our neighborhood, where people are walking around all the time, you can tell those dogs who never get out on walks. Lately Elsa has been somewhat reactive to dogs were encounter. I have to time it just right with a “watch me” command while reaching in to my pocket for a treat. That usually works to divert her attention. While she’s not aggressive, she comes across as more than over-enthusiastic which we’re trying to nip in the bud before she gets totally amped up.

  11. Great post my friend!! Try convincing my other half that “barking back at” the dog is futile. I happen to agree with you wholeheartedly; but the OH is of the mindset that you have to scare the “recycled food” (to use Phenny’s words) out of the poor dog. And it has made for some tense hours around here. So, this dog mom has to soothe ruffled furs all on her own. Short of a divorce, there’s not much else I can do.

  12. Great post Monika. You make a great point in that the first thing in stopping a dog from barking is understanding the why. Also as you say barking is natural and another way that our pups communicate with us and each other. There are times you want your dog to bark. For example, up here at the Golden K it’s pretty rural, no street lamps and houses well apart from one another. Some nights if we are outside Kloe will give off a warning bark if she hears or smells something unusual. She has got a very deep and menacing sounding bark. She’ll send out several loud barks and then come running to me to make sure I knows she has a concern. In these cases I’d say she is doing her job. I don’t encourage more barking at that point but I make gestures to let her know I heard her and will now go see what the intrusion could be. It’s so cute and funny how Kali, who would rarely sound a warning like that under most any circumstance, chimes in when she hears Kloe. Kali has no idea what she is barking at or for but chimes in with her high nasally bark and a puzzled look on her face.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post. WOOF!

  13. Just died from cuteness watching that video! Made me think of 2 Shelties I see when I go for a walk. They have these soft breathy barks and I suspect they may have been de-barked. Don’t know much about that, wondering what dog experts say….

    1. Or have barked so much over their life, they’re perpetually and permanently hoarse which can happen with over-barking. Shelties tend to be heavy barkers anyway. Puppies finding their voices can entertain an upright into hysterical giggling. 😆

  14. One of those reminds us of Kyla. She was left on her own for 15 minutes while the peeps went next door. When they got home, the door stop thing was pulled out of the wall.

  15. We have pack barking when Napoleon sees or hears something he needs to investigate and the whole boiling of them run after him, all barking…but as soon as it is proved to be nothing the barking stops and they stroll back to the house.

  16. Good post. I taught Lexi “inside voice.” Just wish I could remember how I did it, LOL! Actually, whispering helps with dogs and kids. It intrigues them, and they have to get quiet to hear.

  17. it sometimes belongs to the breed… our huskies never barked… they only howled sometimes… Phenny is very verbal… he also invented bark n°8: give it to the weimaraner!

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