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! ❤