If you want to know how to stop dog barking because it’s driving you – or your neighbours – crazy, you’re first going to have to understand exactly what your dog is thinking so that you know what triggers the barking.
Despite what you might think, dogs don’t just bark for the hell of it. Barking is a means of communication and can signify many different emotional states including threat, alarm, excitement, invitation to play – or simply attention seeking. But when normal barking becomes problem barking, the cause (more often than not) is a relationship imbalance between dog and owner. Here ar some insights that will healp you learn how to stop dog barking...
The Alarm Bark
A dog that barks in alarm at possible danger is not usually a problem, particularly if it is one of the guarding breeds. Just as wolves bark when strangers approach the pack, so our domestic dogs will often bark a warning as a means of summoning us to help defend their home territory. The problem arises when the dog will not stop barking, even when it has successfully summoned its owner.
In the wild, wolves that bark to give alarm will immediately stop as soon as the higher ranking members of the pack arrive to take over. In our domestic situation, therefore, a dog that refuses to stop barking even when we are present, is clearly showing that he has assumed the dominant role of leader of the family ‘pack’, with all the responsibility that this entails. In such cases, the relationship between dog and owner needs to be re-established so that the dog is less dominant.
Home Alone Barking
If the barking occurs in the owner’s absence, then it is likely to be as a result of anxiety. Sometimes as owners we are guilty of loving our dogs too much – that is to say, we lavish them with attention and dote on their every need. Unfortunately, the consequence of this is that our dogs become clingy and desperately insecure when we are not around.
‘Separation anxiety’ is a major cause of problem barking and, once again, the only way to resolve the situation is to re-evaluate the relationship between dog and owner so that the dog can learn that it’s world will not fall apart when left alone.
Dogs that bark excessively when excited (collies are a prime example) are often doing so in anticipation of an expected event – and that usually means that we are not giving them enough varied stimulation. Think about it, if you were an intelligent dog with bags of energy and the only exercise you got was one walk a day, always to the same local park and at the same time of day, then you might bark excessively in the car on the way there too. And if your owner joined in by shouting at you, you might just bark all the more!
If you’re at your wits end trying to find how to stop dog barking, chances are you’ll eventually lose your patience and end up shouting at the dog – or even holding its muzzle shut – in a bid to restore peace. Unfortunately, this merely creates a vicious circle as, to your dog, any attention (even negative attention) is rewarding. Once again, the dog has established its dominance by learning that it is guaranteed your attention if it barks. And so the behaviour continues.
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