Barking is one of the most frustrating behavior problems that dog owners experience. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to silence a barking dog. It is also embarrassing and problematic to have a noisy dog in an apartment building or on a busy street.
The best way to deal with an overly vocal dog is to first examine the cause of the barking and try to eliminate it. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and each one has its own solution.
Why is Your Dog Barking?
- Fear: Many dogs vocalize when they are fearful or nervous. This is especially true for toy breeds. The dog is sleeping quietly and then the doorbell rings, immediately sending the dog into a frenzy. She may continue to bark the entire time the visitor is in the house.
- Scolding or punishing her for barking is not only ineffective, it probably increases her nervousness. The solution to fear-related barking is to eliminate or reduce the dog’s level of anxiety through training and desensitization exercises.
- Frustration: A dog that is frustrated may resort to barking when he can’t find a solution to his problem. Solution: examine the source of the frustration. Does he have a legitimate reason to be frustrated? No dog should be tied up or closely confined for long periods of time. Similarly, a reactive dog should not be allowed to stare out the window and bark at everyone who passes. He is not enjoying himself! A relaxed dog would be sleeping in a corner, ignoring the window. Find a quiet, windowless spot for your reactive dog.
- Attention-seeking: Some sources of doggie frustration are not legitimate. Your dog should not feel the need to bark at you when you are eating dinner or engaged in an activity that does not involve her. Don’t give in to a dog that vocalizes to get attention. She needs to learn to wait patiently until you are ready to interact with her. The only way to eliminate this type of barking is to ignore it completely.
- Breed-specific barking: Always research your breed before you get a dog! Some dogs, such as Lhasa Apsos and Chihuahuas, have been bred for centuries to bark at the slightest noise. They may not make good apartment dogs for this reason. Small-breed dogs, hounds and herding dogs tend to be barkers. Training is not very effective against years of genetic selection for barking.
The best solution to problem barking is to attack the reason behind the barking instead of the barking itself. Eliminating the source of the problem will result in long-term success and a much happier dog.