Columnist Dave Barry was once quoted as saying, “Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.” Dogs bark, sometimes for reasons unknown to their owner. A plastic bag could be blowing in the wind a mile away, the dog needs to tell somebody. Or the motivation may be more obvious, a door knock, a thunderstorm, an owner is not sharing the turkey he is carving fast enough. There are a hundred and one reasons for a dog to bark. Barking excessively, however, should not be tolerated.
The key to prevent excessive barking is to determine why the dog is barking. Once the owner narrows down the cause, a solution won’t be far behind.
Is the dog bored?
If an owner has a bored puppy on her hands, she needs to provide the dog with more exercise and some mental stimulation. Hide a favorite treat for the dog and let them “track” it. A treat cube is also good to exercise for the brain. It is a puzzle that can to be rolled certain ways for treats to come out. Signing up for some special training classes (Agility, flyball, dock jumping, etc…) will keep the brain sharp, the body active and will keep the boredom at bay.
Is the dog defending its territory?
Some dogs are genetically engineered to protect their home. That doesn’t mean they need to bark and lunge at the door every time someone knocks. One way to curb this behavior is to designate a spot for the dog to go when there is a knock on the door. Cue the dog to sit and quiet. Once the dog is quiet, open the door calmly and casually. It takes practice and patience, but eventually there will come a day when the dog goes to his spot automatically, sits and waits tolerantly.
Is the dog eager and happy?
This type of barking is harmless; it comes from a happy dog who is enjoying life to its fullest. Increasing his social circle by taking him to the dog park more often or enrolling him in a reputable doggy daycare will diminish some of his exuberance while maintaining his zeal for life
Does the dog rule the roost?
Occasionally a dog might get it into his head he is leader of the pack, in which case an owner may be facing a dominant barker. One example might be the dog, comfy on the couch, refuses to move and barks to be left alone. This would be when a certified trainer should be called. They can give the owner the tools to reclaim pack leadership with minimal effort.
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