Excessive barking can make the most loving pet parent, and their neighbors, cringe. Far from a behavior you have to “live with,” there are sound answers to stop the unnecessary barking. The first step is to explore what’s causing the behavior.
Fear. Is your dog subject to many loud noises, or do you sense they are protective of their territory when other animals are near? It may take training and reassurance to help your dog deal with the fear that their territory is being invaded. If your dog is barking because of everything they see out the window, shut the curtains. Nothing to bark at can equal no barking.
Bored. Dogs are pack animals. Being left alone can lead to loneliness. Ask your neighbors if they hear a lot of barking when you’re gone. Test your dog by leaving as usual, but sneak back to observe their behavior. Check your security camera to see what’s happening inside while you’re away.
Leaving some music or the TV on when you’re gone may help alleviate boredom for some pets. Another question to ask yourself, does my pet get enough exercise? A tired pet from adequate exercise and stimulation is less likely to bark from boredom. That may mean hiring a dog walker for a midday walk. Maybe you have a mini doggie-Einstein on your hands, and they need to think. Get your dog some puppy puzzles where they have to work to get a treat out or a squeaky, fun diversion. Create something interesting for your dog to do in your absence.
Attention. No one likes to be ignored or taken for granted, and neither does your pet! Excessive barking may also provide your pooch a “feel good” adrenaline rush, a feeling they duplicate to self-soothe. Evaluate the amount of attention your pet receives, and make sure they are getting both quality and quantity time.
Methods to Stop Barking
Now that you know why your dog is barking, it’s time to take action. One thing that doesn’t work is to yell at your dog. The dog simply thinks you’re barking too! Instead, take a calmer, more methodical approach. Some schools of thought encourage a voice command of “quiet” and a hand signal like touching your finger to your lips. Others feel it’s more effective to not acknowledge the barking while it’s happening. Once it stops, pause, praise the non-barking behavior, and give a soft treat that can be eaten quickly. By slowly increasing the time a dog is quiet before getting the reward, you can retrain the behavior. After this is working well, then add in a word like “quiet” and a hand signal. Consistency is essential for any training to work. Remember, dogs learn by repetition, dogs learn by repetition, dogs learn by repetition!
To support your dog’s overall trainability, turn to omega-3s sourced from salmon. Look for a chew that delivers DHA and EPA attached to phospholipids for superior absorption and peptides for brain support. This is a better choice than fish oil, which can have rancidity and toxins.
Another good idea for dogs who bark due to anxiety caused by separation, vet visits, or loud noises? Try a supplement that provides calming, brain-specific compounds found in a uniquely cultivated root extract of Echinacea angustifolia (EP107). Available in tablet form for dogs, it works quickly without making your pet drowsy. Incorporating these two supplements provides an added bonus for helping your pet with appropriate barking.