Dogs may bark for many reasons including when calling out to other dogs, when bored, afraid, anxious or when protecting their territory or trying to gain attention from their owners. They may also bark when hungry or when they need to go out.
Excessive barking is irritating and can upset your neighbors. Most people can put up with short barking but when it continues non-stop, it becomes annoying.
So what should you do if your dog is barking excessively?
1. Don’t encourage bad behavior
Don’t encourage your dog when he is barking by asking ‘what happened?’ in an excited voice. Ignore your dog when he is barking and make sure to avoid touching him or else he may end up regarding it as praise.
2. Don’t leave the dog alone for long
You need to also make sure that the dog is not left alone for long periods of time. Dogs are pack animals and enjoy being with others. If they are left alone for long they express their anxiety and unhappiness by barking.
If you must leave the dog alone, keep the radio on, so that dog gets to hear familiar sounds.
3. Reward good behavior
If the dog barks while you are around, you can say “down” and “be quiet” in a firm and calm voice. It is difficult for the dog to bark when he is lying down. If the dog obeys, make sure to reward him with a treat or physical contact. The dog needs to understand that there is a reward for lying down and being quiet. With repetition, the dog will soon understand that barking will not get him any reward.
4. Deal with the source of the problem
Find out what is triggering the barking in your dog. For example your dog may be looking out of the window and barking at other animals or people walking by. If this is the case then pulling up the curtain or moving your dog to another part of the house may solve the problem.
5. Tire your dog out
Ensure that your dog gets plenty of exercise, both physical and mental, throughout the day. A tired dog is less likely to bark out of boredom. Go for long walks with your dog, use interactive toys, play chase etc to keep your dog active.
6. Seek professional help
Consulting your vet will help to see if your dog has a health issue which is causing him bark excessively. If the dog is barking due to pain for instance, your vet will be able to prescribe a pain killer and also treat the health condition which is causing the problem.
If the dog is barking due to a behavior issue, you can consult a dog trainer and develop a training plan to correct the problem. Following the plan consistently will help to modify the wrong behavior and help your dog to adjust well to its surroundings.
Things to avoid
- Don’t shout at your dog as it may just encourage your dog to continue barking
- Don’t hit your dog or use devices that shock the dog as it is unkind and can lead to other problems