This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Why won’t my dog stop barking?

A dog that barks incessantly is a real nightmare for its owners. This type of barking isn’t done to annoy you, though it is annoying, but is your dog’s way of trying to communicate a message to you. Understanding the message is the key to stopping this unwanted behavior.


There are generally 4 reasons why a dog barks continuously. They are boredom, fear, confusion and belligerence.  These are triggers that all owners can learn to recognize. Once you understand why the barking is occurring it becomes easier to eliminate it.


Is your dog bored? Is he getting enough long walks with time to sniff and explore?  Have you taught him to play fetch or tug, with rules to learn and adhere to? Often we leave our dog home alone for 9 or more hours while we work. We return home tired and stressed, let them out in the yard to do their business and because we are tired from a day of working, we expect them to lie quietly at our side in the evening before we retire to bed. From your dog’s perspective, he has done nothing but experience the same boring routine for hours, days and even weeks on end. The old adage “a tired dog is a good dog” is true. Mental and physical stimulation along with structure and routine are key for a well-balanced dog.


Does your dog bark at the vacuum? How about at other dogs when out for a walk? Could be he is afraid. He will benefit, (and so will you!), from a program of desensitization and counter-conditioning to help him overcome his fears. You don’t know what that means? Give us a call. We’d be glad to help.


There are dog’s that bark out of a sense of confusion. They see something they are unsure of. Is it friendly, is it going to do harm?  He may simply not know how to react. It is our job to take the lead and show him by being calm and in control the proper way to behave. Praise calm behavior and interrupt the unwanted behavior as soon as it begins, (or better yet, as soon as you sense a change in your dog’s demeanor indicating he is about to erupt).


Then there are those demanding dogs that bark because they feel entitled to more of your attention or a share of your food. We call them spoiled! They are use to getting what they want and have no tolerance for “no”. Often owners of this type of barker give in, if only to quiet them, creating a vicious circle by reinforcing the very behavior they want to stop. It’s never too late to start teaching your dog self-control as well as letting him know his behavior will not be tolerated.


There is no overnight fix for constant barking, but with consistency and the help of a trainer, nuisance barking can be stopped. In as much as you find it annoying it is most unhealthy for your dog’s well being. For his state of mind, and for yours, it is worth the time, effort and expense to show him a better, healthier way to live.

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