Dogs communicate with their surroundings by growling, panting, squealing, howling and whining, among other means, but most often they communicate by various types of barking. In case this natural behaviour of the pet turns into a nuisance for the surroundings, it should be realised that neglecting this condition may have serious consequences. First and foremost, it will not improve the situation but only perpetuate inappropriate reactions. It may also hurt your pet’s health. How do I stop my dog’s persistent barking?
Why does your dog bark?
There are many reasons why four-legged dogs bark; the most common reasons include boredom, longing, fear, joy, inability to fulfil instincts or inappropriate relationships with caregivers. Barking can be caused by a desire to discharge excess energy, defend territory or draw attention to oneself. It can be a warning, a threat, an expression of frustration or a reaction to stimulation. In finding a way to deal with excessive barking, the key is to get to the cause of your pet’s troublesome behaviour. Fear, anxiety, and apprehension are factors which we can support our pet in eliminating, if only by surrounding him with special care and creating a safe place where he can always find refuge.
Barking and your dog’s natural needs
When faced with the question of how to stop your dog from barking, we should first analyse your dog’s behaviour and consider whether all his natural needs are being met daily. Do we provide him with a sense of security, the right amount of physical activity and mental stimulation, company and the best possible food? If necessary, we can reorganise the individual elements of the four-legged dog’s life to guarantee him a balanced diet, the right amount of exercise and daily attractions to support his instinctive needs. Another important issue is the relationship between the guardian and the dog, building a positive bond and the right approach to raising and training the pet.
How do I stop my dog from barking at home?
If your dog barks when you are away, it is most likely due to boredom and loneliness. A good solution is to gradually accustom your four-legged friend to this situation and introduce a daily routine (repetition of activities). Performing daily activities at a similar time gives the dog a greater sense of security and after some time, it begins to await the return of the guardian with more serenity. We also need to ensure that our „lonely” pet has something to do, and a variety of new and intriguing toys and hidden treats can be useful. Finding hidden snacks is both exercise and a great way of staving off boredom.
How do I teach my dog to bark using commands?
Self-training your dog at home requires patience and consistency. Changing problematic behaviour is time-consuming, and reinforcing the new attitude requires repeated repetitions. Regular training should take place every day for 10-15 minutes. To make sure your pet learns a command relatively quickly, it’s better to start before a meal. Then we can be sure that he will be more eagerly tempted by the treatment we offer.
Paradoxically, we start training by teaching barking on command. With the help of the household member or another person, we simulate a situation in which the dog usually reacts with barking, e.g. a doorbell. When the dog starts to bark, we go up to it and give the command „voice” or „give voice”. If the dog still barks, we reward it. The most important thing in this method is to feel the moment when your four-legged friend should be rewarded. The second way is to divert your dog’s attention from the irritating situation. If the dog starts barking, we show him e.g. a treat, a favourite or a new toy, a leash, and reinforce the message with a „no” command. We reward him every time he directs his attention to us. After a few exercises, we reward the dog only when it responds correctly to the command, i.e. it stops barking.
We can also use the third way, which consists in learning the command „on the spot”. This command means that the dog has to go to its bed on command. With the dog fastened on the leash, lead it towards the bed and stop in front of it. Later, we place a treat on the bed (we can also place it earlier), loosen the leash and say the command „go to your place”. The dog tempted by the treatment will probably immediately run to the bed. We repeat this exercise several times. After a few days, we start learning from the command „to the place”, but we do not leave the treat in the bed. When your pet comes to the bed we praise him and reward him with a treat.
If we are not able to identify the cause of the barking or if, despite our efforts, the barking intensifies and becomes a persistent habit which is difficult to bear, it is worth contacting a dog behaviour specialist or taking your pet to a professional training course on how to stop the problematic behaviour.