Tips to Curb Your Dog's Barking Habit
PetSmart Debbie McKnight/Accredited PetSmart Trainer
Dogs bark for a reason. Knowing why they are barking, or more specifically how dogs communicate through barking, is the first step to stopping their inappropriate barking. The three big reasons a dog barks are: attention, excitement and alarm.
Barking for Attention: this type of barking is generally directed at you. The good news is that this it is the easiest to control. The bad news is that it will get worse before it gets better. Your dog has learned that barking gets your attention in some form or fashion. In your dog’s opinion, attention could be eye contact, touching, or talking (even yelling). Make sure you COMPLETELY ignore your dog if he is barking. He’ll get worse for a while thinking you must be deaf! Don’t worry and don’t give in. He’ll give up on that behavior since it’s not working for him any more. When he gets tired of barking and ignores you, then go interact with him.
Barking in Alarm: this is the category that most barking falls under. From the dog’s point of view, it always works for them. Imagine … your dog hears a suspicious noise on the other side of the fence. He barks ferociously to scare off the “intruder.” Suddenly all is quiet. He must have scared it off!! Wow! What a tough dog he is. Little did he know that the mailman would have left even if he didn’t bark. In all seriousness, your dog will bark at whatever startles him, whether it is a robber or the neighbor’s big scary trash can. The better socialized your dog is, the less things will startle him so make sure to socialize your dog very well.
Remember, yelling at your dog while he’s barking sounds more like you’re joining in than anything else, so stay calm. Barking is a perfectly normal behavior, but when it’s excessive it becomes inappropriate. Be consistent and you’ll see a definite decrease in Fido’s barking.
Debbie McKnight is an accredited PetSmart trainer in Hurst, Texas.
For information on PetSmart's Accredited Training, please visit PetSmart's training web site.