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Types of Barking
Dogs bark for many reasons. It is a natural communication and a way of ‘talking’ to people, other dogs and other species. Some dogs were actually bred for their barking, bred to warn humans of approaching danger e.g. the Maremma Sheepdog and Anatolian Shepherd Dog. Other breeds were bred to bark to let humans know where prey is, for example Beagles. That is in their genetics which cannot be changed.
Anxiety, boredom, excitement, guarding, pain/illness, fear and to get attention are the most common reasons why dogs bark.
Is it Excessive?
All councils in Queensland have guidelines on what is considered excessive barking. Remember that barking is a normal behaviour for dogs, so don’t panic if your dog barks a couple of times at someone walking past your house. But does your dog do this 30 times per day?
Is the barking a problem for you, other people, other dogs, or your own dog?
While you might not see the problem with your dog barking 30 times per day at people walking past your house, this may be a problem for your neighbours, the people walking past, and your dog. It isn’t normal or healthy for dogs to be barking that much, particularly when they get regularly worked up and stressed.
Information Gathering - Finding Out the Cause
Ask your neighbours, set up cameras, and/or recorders (ipad), use Apps such as Dog Monitor, Bark n Mad, purchase a barking counter collar or FitBark which records all barking and/or activity your dog does.
Keep a diary so you can record where your dog is when he barks, what time of the day, for how long, and what it sounds like. This is all crucial information that allows you to work out the best approach.
Once you have an idea when your dog barks, for how long, where your dog is and possible causes, it’s time for some basic prevention strategies…
Control the Environment
There are many things you can do in your dog’s environment that will reduce excessive barking. It may be as simple as bringing your dog inside the house to prevent them barking at the fence, or closing curtains to prevent vision through a window. Other more labour intensive ideas are putting up shade cloth/black plastic along a fence to prevent a dog seeing people or dogs walking past, or building a second fence or to prevent access to an area of the yard.
For many types of barking, if you don’t control the environment, you will have a very hard time reducing your dog's barking.
Sometimes you may have to resort to a short term confinement option to prevent your dog’s access to the yard at certain times of the day. Any area needs to be introduced slowly and positively so the dog loves to be in there. Ask us for help!
Think outside the food bowl! You want to buy time in your dog’s day where they are actively engaging in something else besides barking. If you dog is working food out of a Kong toy or food toy, they generally aren’t barking. We have loads of ideas. Ask us for help as every dog is different.
We can help you teach your dog what you do want them to do instead of barking. A simple cue of ‘go to your mat/bed’ can work well. The more you practice when your dog is not barking and is calm, the easier it will be for him to understand it when he is barking and a little more wound up.
For other types of barking such as anxiety/separation or fear barking, please contact us so we can help you with a detailed training plan.
We know it’s very easy to shout out ‘shh’ or ‘quiet’ to your dog, or even use a barking collar and it may stop them at least temporarily. It doesn’t however teach them what you do want them to do, so can often cause confusion. Research and experience tells us that using punishment can increase stress levels, and of course reduce trust between you and your dog.
Barking is communication so you shouldn’t aim to stop it for good. Rather work through the steps in this sheet; understand the cause/s of your dog's barking, control your dog’s environment and use kind training methods to teach your dog what you would like them to do instead of barking.