Almost every neighborhood has one â€“ that dog that constantly barks whenever someone walks by his or her house; a car honks the horn; birds chirp; and leaves rustle. While some pet owners take this as a sign of a good guard dog, this couldnâ€™t be further from the truth. Dogs that bark at everything become a nuisance and elicit the same response as a car alarm that persistently goes off in the middle of the night.
However, dogs will bark, as this is part of their normal and natural manner of communicating and behaving. In order to establish a common ground with your canine â€“ first get to the bottom of your dog’s barking and then consider the following ways you can prevent unwanted outbursts.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Barking is a common way that dogs communicate and a learned response to their various surroundings thanks to the efforts of breeding tactics. Humans have bred certain dog breeds to bark in order to assume guard dog or herding duties. Overall, dogs bark because of:
Dogs who lack confidence or appear nervous are most likely to bark out of apprehension for the unknown or when left alone. A dog may also bark when startled by a sound or movement that is sudden or unfamiliar.
Yes, dogs do get bored and when they attempt to amuse themselves â€“ they will dig, chew, and bark as a result.
When left out in the yard, some dogs will bark at anything in an attempt to protect and assert dominance over their ‘territory.’ This especially takes place when strangers and other dogs are in the vicinity. Your dog may start out with a low growl (sometimes bearing his or her teeth) before shifting into something that sounds like a howl.
Since dogs are pack animals and enjoy the company of others, they can suffer a bout of loneliness and bark when left alone. Both puppies and adult dogs can experience separation anxiety. Anxious barkers usually display a higher pitch.
e) Potential Danger:
A dog uses an alert or warning bark to let their owners know when the possibility of danger arises or a suspicious character is approaching the house. The closer an intruder comes within reach of a home, the barks become faster and more intense.
Puppies are notorious for barking for attention, and while their actions may become rather insistent â€“ you must remember to ignore this behavior.
During playtime, a dog may let out short and sharp barks when they become too excited.
Have you ever noticed that when other dogs in the neighborhood bark, your pooch is quick to join in? This is an example of how dogs self-identify their presence and location.
i) Unusual Events :
Dogs also emit a ‘warning’ bark when they have detected something a little out of the ordinary that they feel warrants the attention of their owner. This includes a short, crisp bark for their owner to take notice, such as a car pulling into the driveway. If their efforts are ignored, they may escalate into a full-blown tirade.
Dog Barking Prevention
Excessive dog barking can really place you at odds with your neighbors, but it is important to understand that most times â€“ a dog is really trying to tell you something. Depending on the circumstances, their barking is often expressions of anxiety, loneliness, discomfort, pain, alarm, warning, or assertiveness. Overall, different types of barking require varied approaches for prevention. They include:
a) Identify a Cause:
Understanding the cause of your dog’s barking is a great way to select the prevention techniques needed to solve the problem. Eliminating the cause will subside your dog’s urge to bark at inappropriate moments.
b) Use Positive Training:
When correcting this behavior, positive training methods are a must, as punishment can reinforce the bad behavior in your pet. Let’s say your dog barks as a result of stress or anxiety. Using repeated exposure to triggers and distraction are some of the ways an owner can calm a dog that barks out of worry.
c) Mechanical Devices:
Some pet owners have found success in using mechanical devices to curb barking, such as a bark collar. On the market, there are plenty of selections to consider, including a citrus spray collar, which produces a scent dogs are not particularly fond of. These collars fit about the muzzle of a dog and sprays citrus when he or she barks. Other choices include electrical (mild stinging sensations), ultrasonic (vibrating), and combination collars (that use both sound and spray).
d) Change the Environment:
Often times, a dog will bark because of their surroundings. When they are able to see or hear things that cause excitement, fear, or anger â€“ a barking fit may follow. Changing the environment of your dog can eliminate some of their barking triggers, including closing the curtains or building a fence.
e) Don’t Yell:
Although a dog may momentarily stop barking if you yell at him or her, this form of intimidation soon wears off and initial problems remain uncorrected . You will also need a lot of patience, as you attempt to curb your dog’s habit of excessive barking.
f) Do Not Offer Comfort:
A barking dog needs no consoling. An owner should only offer praise when they exhibit good behavior, such as barking at the things you approve of.
g) Daily Exercise and Stimulation:
Some dogs bark because they are bored and need daily exercise to burn off extra energy. When you are not at home, supplying your pooch with balls, chew toys, and chew bones will keep their minds off of unnecessary barking. If you are unable to properly walk your dog â€“ it’s OK to turn to the assistance of a dog walking service. If you’re lucky, you can pay a reliable neighborhood youth to provide a healthy outlet for your pet.
h) Debarking :
In the most drastic of cases, some owners have turned to debarking (a highly controversial surgical procedure) that permanently puts an end to dog barking. The volume and pitch of a dog’s bark is reduced to the sounds of hoarseness or whispering. Extreme cases involving legal action have seen this approach solve domestic disputes. However, the procedure is viewed as inhumane and illegal in some parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom. Additionally, while the barking may cease â€“ the underlying problems causing the behavior (anxiety, fear, etc.) will still remain.
i) Professional Help:
If your dog still exhibits a barking problem after all of your efforts, you can always receive advice or a training session from a professional, such as a veterinarian.
 Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard Pitcairn (pg. 158)