How To Stop Dogs Barking

BEHAVIOR THERAPY

If you have a problem barker make an appointment with your veterinarian. Many vets have additional qualifications or a special interest in behavior, so it is worth asking whether one of the vets has a special interest in behavior. Often there are health conditions that could be exacerbating the problem, such as dementia, pain, vision or hearing problems.

Dogs also bark if they are anxious, so medications can be used in the short-term to help your dog learn some coping skills. They need not be permanent. While there are some excellent dog trainers, there is little regulation in the industry, so skills and methods can vary. Ask your veterinarian to recommend someone if they can’t help.

TYPES OF BARKING

Dogs naturally will bark to warn you, and this may become a problem if there are lots of things your dog sees, such as birds, cats and people walking by the fence. He may feel the need to alert you to every small thing that approaches. Sometimes it is as simple as blocking off a gate to block the stimulus of people walking past. Dogs will also bark out of boredom, or because they are worried about being alone.

Sometimes you can tell whether the type of bark is a play bark or anxious bark. A play bark is usually made while the dog has loose, relaxed body language. An anxious dog has ears back and the whites of the eyes are showing. If your dog barks only when you go out, he may have separation anxiety.

EXTINGUISH THE BEHAVIOR

Many times we have unintentionally taught our dog to bark by reinforcing the behavior. If your dog barks in the yard and you go out and shout at him, he has gotten your attention and may even think you are joining in with your own funny little human bark. Even looking at your dog when he barks can be a reinforcer.

To extinguish the behavior you must completely ignore it. Walk away, or look away and do not speak or give eye contact. Bear in mind that the behavior will temporarily increase before it improves, and you must be persistent and consistent. Try never to enter the house or yard or let your dog inside while your dog is barking, as this can easily reinforce the behavior too.

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