Getting your dog to stop barking

I’m sure many dog owners can appreciate just how irritating it can be to wake up at three in the morning to your dog barking uncontrollably. Barking is generally not a sign of a bad dog, merely a sign of poor training. Dogs bark for a number of reasons, and the best way to cure this, or control it, is to determine the cause of the barking.

First, and above all, dogs bark when they are defending their territory. Remember, a dog does not only consider its home and yard its territory, but also its owner. Anything or anyone unknown is potentially a source of danger. This applies to people, noises, other animals, cars, and sometimes loud claps of thunder. Your pet believes he is warning you of the danger and being helpful, so he or she will not understand if you scold him or her for doing you this “service”.

Secondly, dogs bark when they are unhappy. The thing that can cause a dog the most unhappiness of all is being separated from you. You are their pack leader, provider, and best friend, and separation leads to both loneliness and jealousy, especially if they see you with someone or something else. This can include neighbors, the tv, or especially, other dogs.

Thirdly, dogs bark because they have excessive energy. This is much like a child’s need to bang on pots and pans in the kitchen. Barking is fun, and draws attention, which they have learned can lead to playtime. Dogs need exercise every day. This could include walking, running, or playing. Also, playing leads to sleeping, which of course means your dog will not be on watchdog alert.

If your dog is a problem barker, there are several ways to combat this issue. First, exercise. This can be in the form of walks, trips to the dog park, or playing fetch. Anything that gets your dog out and running around is a form of exercise. Also, it can be healthy for you as well! Secondly, although this sounds counterintuitive, teaching your dog the speak command is a great way to teach your dog to be quiet. Then he or she will learn to bark on command, and will more easily understand the when you teach him or her to be quiet. Crate training can also be an effective way to teach a dog to be silent. Be sure not to use a crate as a form of punishment, or they will not see it as the safe haven it is meant to be, and merely bark out of unhappiness every time they are crated. Another good way to lessen barking is to have enough toys around to keep the dog entertained enough to distract it.

There is a common saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. In a way, this is true. The sooner you start dealing with a problem barker, the easier it is to teach them that barking excessively is not something to be rewarded.

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