One woof too many…

When barking becomes a problem.

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs are sociable, they, like people, communicate. Barking is just one of the ways they express their emotions. So barking can be an invitation to play, a warning, a sign of stress or boredom or discomfort. We all know the happy, high pitched barks and we would never mistake them for low-pitched warning ones. It’s certainly better if we don’t! Bored dogs bark in a monotone (and for a long time). The desperate, cry-like barking of a dog with separation anxiety is also easy to recognise. Of course, each individual dog has his own repertoire, too.

If you, like me, have a barking dog do not:

-shout

-get impatient

-punish him

Try this instead:

-use positive reinforcement (praise the dog when he’s quiet, give him treats for good behaviour)

-if possible, remove the trigger (find out what makes the dog bark, if he needs your attention, make sure he gets it only when he’s quiet; if it’s fear, work on calming him down and overcoming the fear; if it’s because he’s got too much energy: make him tired, walk him enough, let him play with other dogs)

-ignore him when he barks (I call it: ‘actively ignore’. Don’t look, don’t talk to him, turn your back to him, walk away).

My dogs bark. For small dogs they have powerful voices. Ardbeg’s bark is persistent, high-pitched, loud and happy: woof, woof. Lily barks when she’s scared, it’s the lower, more growly type.It’s actually easier to deal with her. All the usual techniques seem to work on her. With Ardbeg, well, he just likes the sound of his own voice…

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