When talking about barking issues, there is one important thing we must understand: barking, just like digging, chewing, and jumping, is a normal and natural dog behavior. Our goal should never be to completely stop your dog from barking, but rather to reduce the frequency in some situations.
There are many different reasons that a dog may bark, and each requires a different solution or training technique. Some of the most common reasons are:
Here are a few of the most common reasons dogs bark:
- Fear: barking is a dog’s way of warning off a potential threat.
- Alert: your dog is alerting you to something, like a person at the door or an animal in your yard.
- Attention: some dogs may bark to get your attention or because they are bored.
- Frustration: this can happen when a dog is behind a barrier (leash, fence, window) and sees something they are interested in/scared of, etc. This can be exacerbated by boredom.
- Excitement: when they are greeting a favorite person or another dog.
- Separation anxiety: this is a more complicated behavior – we recommend reaching out to a certified dog trainer.
Never punishing your dog for barking. Reward-based training will result in a closer bond with you and your dog as well as positive results in your training. Read more about reward-based training here.
So, what can you do to help decrease your dog’s barking? Below are some tips you can try right away (and if you need more help, feel free to reach out to our Training Department at firstname.lastname@example.org):
Firstly, we recommend that dogs be kept indoors when not supervised by their family. Many dogs can benefit from having a more confined space when their owners aren’t home. It can offer a safe area for them to relax, which helps reduce the stress they may be feeling when they are alone. A crate or kennel can be a wonderful tool to provide your dog with this “safe zone”. Getting your dog accustomed to the crate will take time and patience, but we can help! Click here to learn more about crate training.
Enrichment is an activity that helps your dog use it’s natural instincts and brain in a way that is stimulating, energy-burning, and fun! Enrichment encompasses a wide variety of activities. Enrichment activities will enable your dog to do all the things they were made to do – lick, chew, tear, and sniff – all in a safe and controlled environment. Keep in mind, all dogs have their own personalities, so you’ll have to figure out what kind of activities your dog likes best. It’s important to do some monitored trial-and-error to see what your dog loves the most. We call these items and activities “high-value” rewards.
When it comes to food and treats, “high-value” options can range from hard treats to rotisserie chicken! If your dog has a favorite toy, that can be considered a high-value reward, too! Most importantly, you must ensure that whatever treats or activities your dog has access to when you’re not home are safe. Always read the packaging before leaving an item unsupervised with your dog, or err on the side of caution. Toys like Kongs are designed for strong chewers, whereas a soft toy could be easily ingested by the same dog. Dogs should never be left alone with bully sticks, antlers, yak cheese, or other hard chews.
When you are home with your dog, there are all kind of reward-based training activities you can do to build a strong bond with your dog and keep their mind working. Play-dates with small groups of trusted dog friends can also be a great way to give your dog enrichment and exercise.
Giving your dog a room-temperature or frozen Kong, Licki-Mat, ice cube tray stuffed with yummy food is a great way to keep them busy when you’re not home. Below are some recipes you can try to get you started. All you have to do is put the ingredients in your Kong and you’re good to go!
- hard treats
- unsweetened apple sauce
- plain yogurt
- skinless, unseasoned, boiled chicken
- diced carrots
- chicken broth
Peanut Butter Cup
- peanut butter (xylitol-free)
- peanut butter treats