Barking is one of the means of communication that dogs have. Barking therefore has a purpose and is natural. However, sometimes barking is excessive and considered a noise nuisance. It can even cause major problems with the neighbourhood. Fortunately, it is possible to retrain a dog to bark less frequently. We will explain how to do this!
Why does my dog bark?
A barking dog is a dog that is trying to send a message to its owners or to other dogs. In fact, you may have noticed that your dog does not bark in the same way in all situations.
Here are some of the main causes of barking:
- to alert you to the presence of a stranger or potential prey
- in response to unusual noise
- to protect its territory
- to attract your attention, that of another dog or a person
- to express his uneasiness (anxiety, boredom, ...)
It is also important to know that some breeds of dogs bark more than others. This is due to the work that these dogs used to do. For example, hunting dog breeds such as Beagles will bark more easily than Chow Chows. Similarly, small dogs such as Chihuahuas are often reactive and nervous, which leads them to bark more than average. However, keep in mind that every dog is different and has a unique personality.
In some cases, excessive barking is a sign of a behavioural disorder. This may be the case, for example, of a dog suffering from separation anxiety, which will bark as soon as its master is absent.
Similarly, a dog that barks at the slightest noise is certainly a reactive dog.
In all cases, it is important to correct the problem.
Beware, it can happen that a dog barks to express discomfort or suffering, so it is advisable to check that everything is fine with your vet.
What should I do if my dog barks too much?
As we have already said, barking is one of the communication tools of our four-legged friends. Therefore, we should not try to eliminate barking altogether. However, in some cases, a dog's barking is too frequent and can be a nuisance.
So to preserve your peace of mind, you need to stop your dog barking. The good news is that it can be done at any age. It just takes more patience with an older dog than with a puppy.
The first step in preventing barking is to identify the cause of the barking. Is he afraid? Does he only bark when you're not there? Try to understand what message your dog is sending by barking.
Once the cause of the barking is identified, you can start working!
When your dog barks, try not to shout. He may think you are barking too and bark even louder. Instead, stay calm and don't raise your voice.
Give your dog the command to stop in a firm voice. If your dog obeys, you should reward him with a treat, for example. If he continues to give a voice, repeat the command several times, and if he still doesn't obey, ignore him.
Whatever the situation, the principle is the same: praise the dog when it does what you expect it to do. This is called positive reinforcement.
But in some cases, more specific action is also needed.
Your dog barks to get your attention
If your dog barks at you to play or go out, don't comply. He will understand that barking is a way to get what he wants.
Ignore him, wait until he stops barking, then play with him or take him for a walk.
Your dog barks because of excitement
If your dog tends to bark when guests arrive, for example, ignore it and concentrate on the person who is there. Also tell the guests not to pay attention to the dog until he is quiet. This will make him understand that he needs to calm down to be taken care of.
Your dog barks out of fear
In this case, in addition to positive reinforcement, the puppy will have to be gradually accustomed to the novelty that frightens him. This situation is frequent when the puppy's socialisation has not been done properly.
Your dog barks out of boredom or anxiety
If your pet has a tendency to bark because it is bored or lonely, you will need to walk it more often, and make sure it gets enough exercise on its walks. Dogs that bark when their owners are away suffer from what is known as separation anxiety.
Should I choose an anti-bark collar?
Anti-bark collars for dogs are available in pet shops. Some work with a jet of air, water or citronella, others with small electric currents. Whatever the collar is, it's a bad idea.
Indeed, the anti-bark collar will give quick results since barking will be associated with something unpleasant. However, barking is a way of communicating, and a dog should be able to bark in certain situations.
Furthermore, this kind of dog device can only make your dog anxious or aggressive. Instead, we recommend that you address the cause of your dog's excessive barking. If your dog has a behavioural disorder, the anti-bark collar will not help. Instead, a behavioural dog trainer should be called in.
Now you know all about dog barking and how to train your dog to bark less. Note that you cannot ask a dog to stop barking at all, and that it is important to treat the cause of the barking!