I frequently get asked about barking problems or why do dogs bark? Our dogs bark for a variety of reasons:
Dogs will bark if they feel threatened.
They may bark when they play and get excited.
Some dogs will bark for attention from us or another dog.
Some will bark if they are in pain and they’ll even bark when they’re lonely, bored or stressed.
Certain breeds or breed types are also genetically inclined to bark more than others.
Desensitizing these shelties to moving stimuli
How you’ll prevent or resolve your issue with barking will partially depend on what is triggering your dog to bark. For example if your dog is barking or vocalizing because he’s in pain, treating the source of his pain would be the obvious solution. If your dog is barking through the front window as dogs pass by your house, blocking off access to that window is a simple way to help prevent his barking.
Keep in mind that the more your dog practices barking the better he’ll get at it. So identifying what is triggering your dog to bark and if possible, removing the trigger or changing the emotions that cause your dog to bark are best. For Example, if your dog barks each day he hears the mail truck, take your dog out side and reward you dog with a yummy treat for looking at the truck, after a few days of this classical conditioning, take your dog out and reward him for looking at you or any other behavior they offer before they bark. Eventually, your dog will learn to simply look at the mail truck and watch it go by with no worries at all.
In my opinion, antibark collars which use shock are inhumane and are inappropriate for all kinds of barking problems (and often make the problem worse). Many dogs that have been shocked for barking at a mail man or garbage truck have ended up trying to bite this stimuli which causes them pain each time it is near. With the right kind of behavior modification and a strong desire to stop the problem, most pet parents can successfully resolve barking issues using classical conditioning methods.
The Alert Barker does so to alert you to someone or something outside, the answer is quite simple. Remove the source of what triggers his barking. For instance if your dog barks at people as they walk past your home, prevent his access to the window using furniture, closing blinds, blocking off the area with a baby gate. Remember, if your dog barks and the person or dog moves away, this is very rewarding for the dog and will certainly be repeated.
The Lonely Barker is often more simple to modify, try changing your dog’s environment a bit. Remember that your dog probably wants to be with people. Dogs who are left outside for long periods of time are often the worst offenders of barking. Your dog needs to play with you and feel like he is a part of the family. Dogs typically don’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Make sure you set aside time for regular walks, playtime – even some training sessions. You’ll want to be sure that you give him the social contact that he needs to keep his body and mind occupied. Barking when left alone may also indicate separation anxiety. If you think that anxiety is the source of your dog’s barking, contact a certified dog trainer.
Attention Barking may be a dog that barked and you tossed him a toy, you have just taught your dog, “When I bark you play!” Even if you look at him or verbally scold your dog when he barks, you will still be teaching him that his barking is a successful way to get your attention. What can you do? You need to ignore his demands. His barking may initially increase and so don’t give in or he will learn that persistence pays off. However, if he barks and you really ignore him or even better if you ignore him and walk away until he is quiet, he will eventually learn that barking doesn’t work and it will decrease.
Our dogs are not trying to dominate us, they simply do a behavior and if something follows that they like then they will repeat the behavior. Dogs are smarter than we think, so be carful and watch what you are rewarding!
Canine Behavior Counseling, LLC Merion Way Cumberland, ME 04021