Barking Mad

One of the biggest complaints people have about their dogs, or sometimes their neighbor’s dogs, is uncontrolled barking.  Too many dogs are sent to shelters for this annoying habit, when the answer really comes down to better understanding, management and training.

You brought a dog into your home and dogs communicate through barking – it is part of their nature.  Dogs bark for a reason – even though it sometimes seems they are barking at dust bunnies and it makes no sense to you at all – they bark out of boredom, to alert the pack of danger, to warn off an intruder, fear, loneliness, or to get attention/engage play, the list is endless.   Asking them to never bark is like asking you to never speak, it doesn’t seem fair – so what is fair? 

Dogs are brilliant creatures and desire activity, and too many dogs are left on their own in the house or yard and become bored out of their brains. An active brain doesn’t have time to misbehave – so engaging your dog’s mind more will leave them too tired to yowl.  You can do obedience work, scent work, agility games, a good walk helps, play with other dogs, anything to tire their mind and body.

Sometimes dogs howl out of sheer loneliness – does your dog need more time with you?  Do they need a friend?  Could they benefit from time at doggie daycare?  Find an answer that makes their life a happier one and you might just find an answer for their barking.

Dogs are pack members who feel protected by their leaders; when they are left alone they bark to protect the yard or house because they think they are doing their job. Every time an intruder (a squirrel, dog, cat, or person) enters and then leaves their territory they believe they did a great job and it encourages them to continue. 

Many dogs do better when confined to a crate – it is less territory to have to worry about and they learn to relax and settle down until you come home to play with them.  Some dogs prefer to be in the house instead of the yard for the very same reason. It comes down to reducing the size of the territory for the dog to have to protect, which also reduces the intruders into his space.  The dog has less to react to and less to bark at.

Your dog is part of your family and needs to be cared for as any family member, so leaving them in the back yard all day isn’t always what is best for your dog and their incessant barking is your first clue things are not in balance.  If you are too busy to properly engage your dog then find someone who can help, a dog walker or neighborhood teen who loves dogs and would be thrilled to play with yours.  Providing your dog with a healthy balance of mental, emotional and physical engagement quickly brings your dogs behaviors into balance as well.