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Dog barking must be one of the greatest behavioural issues owners face. Let’s face it, a barking dog gets annoying after a while, not to mention the embarrassment of having to apologise to neighbours or fellow members of a training class for the disruption!
Here is some advice from The Upward Dog on one of our favourite barking management techniques.
Why is my dog barking?
Before embarking on any plans to stop the dog barking, work out why she barks. During adolescence, it may be as simple as ‘she feels like it’, since we can’t understand what is going on for her inside her body, with hormonal surges, ‘growing pains’, and so on.
Other common causes of barking include:
- Outside noises – is there any way to minimise these, or move the dog to a different place in the house?
- Movement past the window – whilst working on management techniques for the barking, you may want to deny access to window-watching at all times that you can’t be present to supervise.
- Doorbells and the arrival of visitors – make sure everyone, including the visitors, carry out the management plan, as consistency will be key.
- Fear – before trying any management techniques, seek professional help, as doing the wrong thing could make things worse. Scared dogs need to be handled with utmost care around their ‘triggers’.
Ignorance is bliss
Most of the time, dogs bark for their owner’s attention. The first thing to try to stop barking is to ignore it.
If your dog barks, carry on with what you are doing: don’t look at the dog; don’t speak to the dog; don’t make hand signals. Just ignore her.
Keep consistent with this, as it may take a few weeks for the dog to understand that there’s just no point in her barking: it gets her nothing except a sore throat!
It’s getting worse!
The barking may get worse before it gets better, but rest assured that it is extremely unlikely it will stay worse, if you remain consistent in ignoring the behaviour.
When you went to a toyshop as a child, and you asked for that one particular Lego kit you desperately wanted, and your parents said, “No”, what did you do? Did you just say, “Okay, fine,” and walk away? Or did you get annoyed and grumpy with your parents? Maybe have a tantrum in the middle of the store? You would only have done this, if the request had worked in the past, since if your parents never bought you anything you asked for, you’d soon have got bored of asking.
Dogs are exactly the same as the child in the toyshop. They got attention previously for barking, and will now test boundaries, perhaps ‘upping the ante’ by barking louder or closer to you. But, unlike your parents who would occasionally give in and buy you a toy, you’re going to remain consistent, and the dog will eventually realise that no matter what he does, barking no longer works for him.
It’s not working!
Not all dogs will find success in the easiest method to use, which is the one outlined above. If barking is still an issue after consistently (every member of the family, every time, every day, all hours of the day and night) ignoring it, get in touch to discuss what other kind, force-free methods we can use to help your dog through this.
Don’t give up, stay silent, and – most of all – be consistent!