Is your dog driving you barking mad?

March 23, 2018

 

 There many times that you may find your dog barking for no reason but seemingly just to bark!

 

 Barking At The Front Door Barking

 To Alert You To Something

 Barking On Walks

 Barking In Your Car

 Barking Around Your Home

 Barking When Left Alone

 Over-Excited Barking

 “I Want” Barking

 Barking at People

 Barking at Other Dogs

 Barking for Attention

 Barking While Running the Fence

 

The consistent Barking comes from the days when they needed fight or flight to survive, however, now it just ramps them up and they have no way to expel that energy that it produces. They bark because it works, you know that the fence is keeping the neighbours dog away, but, in your dogs mind they kept it away with barking and therefore it works. The postman was going away anyway, but in the dogs mind they kept them away. Also, barking is fun! The more they do it, the more pleasure they get from the adrenalin rush.

 

Consistancy and Practice

You need to work consistently on stopping them barking to make it work. Teach them to look to you instead of rushing for the fight or flight. Ignore the Barking Do not give any attention at all for barking. The attention will only reward them for barking, even negative attention is better than no attention in their head. When they are finally quiet, then reward them. Gradually build the time up that they are quiet before they receive the reward.

 

First, tire them out!

Dogs are less likely to bark when they are mentally and physically tired, young dogs will need more mental stimulation than physical to tire them out due to damage too much physical work can do to them.  Depending on their breed, health and age, they may need a few good walks to keep them calm.

 

Barking as an emotional response or frustration

If your dog barks at other dogs, start working with your dog to stop this. Go to somewhere that there will be many dogs. Stand still away from the other dogs, but so your dog can see them. Keep your dog calm and give the extra special toy or really smelly treat the minute they see the other dogs and stop the treats when you or the other dog leave. The treats do not need to be large, a pea size bit of sausage or cheese is all that is required each time. Gradually get closer to the other dogs. if your dog starts barking, back off, you are too close. The aim of this is to stop your dog thinking "that dog is scary!" and start them thinking "oooo good things happen when other dogs are around!". Be patient, if you rush, you may send any work you have done backward. This can take weeks or even months to stop entirely, the longer they have been practicing this behaviour, the longer it will take to fix. Remember, cut your dogs meals down to compensate for the extra food in training.

 

Taking the cue from you

Often dogs take the cue from you that something bad is about to happen, you might tighten the lead, call their name, they sense your panic. You need to retrain yourself. Concentrate on not having a tight lead. Try practicing at home, using a phrase that means "something good is about to happen" "What's this?" Often works well. Encourage the dog to look at you instead of the trigger. Every time you say the phrase, give the dog lots of praise and an extra special treat, a quick game that they love or super smelly treat. This will help them to look at you when a trigger is approaching and not the trigger.

 

Play the run away game

On a walk, when all is calm and there is nothing around, suddenly turn the other way and start to run, shouting "run away" in a happy, high pitch voice, throw some treats in front of you and praise them well when the follow. Practice this on every walk, then when the need arises, you can put it into practice. Beware, I have had many people look at me like I am slightly strange doing this, but it works!

 

Be the fun one!

Train them to think you are fun and concentrate on you. Be unpredictable, suddenly change ways, jump on a wall for no reason at all; hide behind a tree; when all is calm, initiate a fun game; have the best treats, but only give them amongst not such good treats, mix them up.  If your dog does not know what you will do next, they will concentrate on you instead of the triggers that are out there.

 

Teach the "Quiet" command 

To teach the "Quiet" or "Shhhhh" command you first need to teach the "Speak", it sounds crazy, but in order for them to understand what Quiet means, they need to be barking. 

 

When they are barking, say "Speak", after a couple of barks put a treat in front of their nose, praise them and give them the treat.  Keep on doing this until they will "Speak" on command. 

 

When they will "Speak" on command, you can teach the "Quiet" or "Shhhh".  I always use my fingers to my lips when I say "Shhhh" as when you are outside and it is noisy, they may not hear you.  When they are barking, say "Shhhhhh" and put a treat in front of their nose and then reward them for stopping barking.   Once they have learned to keep quiet in a calm environment, add a stimulus, such as a doorbell and keep practicing until your dog can reliably keep quiet with a trigger.  Keep practicing this even when they have learned the cue. 

 

An incompatible behaviour 

Dogs find it hard to bark whilst lying down, so if they start barking, ask them to lie down.  If it is when the doorbell goes, teach them to go to bed and lie down when asked.  Get a friend to ring the doorbell and reward when they stay in their bed lying down. 

 

 

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