How to Deal with Excessive Barking

Whether it sounds like more of a squeak, ruff, or bork, barking may not always be a welcome form of communication from your furry friend. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Excessive barking is one of the most frequent “help” requests submitted to Off-Leash K9.

But what can you do right now to curb excessive barking? Trainer Derek weighs in with a few tips:

 

Work it Out

Is your dog getting enough exercise? While the daily amount is breed-dependent, a good rule of thumb is to exercise your pup for a minimum of thirty minutes every day. A working pup (and a tired pup) is a happy pup, and can often lead to a quieter pup.

It is also equally important to include mental exercise in your dog’s daily routine. Again, thirty minutes is recommended, but the amount your pet might need could vary. Sometimes, the thirty minutes of mental exercise could be combined with the thirty minutes of physical exercise! A few easy ways to mentally stimulate your dog include:

  1. Training practice – This is the simplest way to mentally exercise your dog. Have your pup work through basic and/or advanced commands to reinforce the positive behavior they already know (or, teach them something new!). Training is one of the best ways to mentally stimulate a dog and watching them actively use their minds is incredibly rewarding. The resulting good behavior is always a perk too!
  2. Puzzles – There are certain toys on the market (e.g., snuffle mats, puzzle boards, etc.) that are designed for dogs to work their brains. Check a few out and watch your pup light up with excitement and mental energy as they figure out how to get their rewards.
  3. Games – If your dog is trained, nose work is a wonderful mental exercise. If you have more of a trick-trained pup, try playing hide-and-seek games with treats (or yourself!) around your house.

mental stimulation for dogs

 

Embrace the Bark

Dogs, by nature, are built to bark; it’s one of the ways they communicate! While you may feel frustrated when it gets excessive, we encourage you to do a little investigating about your dog’s particular breed to better understand how much they are hard-wired for vocalization. While excessive is never good, maybe your pooch is particularly coded for louder verbalizing, and you can moderate your expectations and tolerance.

A Few Don’ts

A few things we want to remind you that definitely don’t work for excessive barking:

  1. Yelling or throwing things, which generally just strikes a note of fear into your animal without any changed behavior, plus there’s a risk of injury and breaking trust in your relationship.
  2. Smacking or tapping them, because hitting a dog is never the answer to behavior modification.
  3. Reward them when they stop barking, which is most likely the toughest “don’t” to avoid. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work as positive reinforcement to stop your dog’s behavior, but instead rewards them for the barking they were just doing. It may work counterproductively to the behavior you are trying to stop.

 

Next Steps

So, you’ve tried all our tips, but there’s still non-stop noise in your home? Don’t stress out, that just means it’s time to call in the professionals. You could be dealing with a larger issue like separation anxiety, learned (and subsequently ingrained) behavior from unintentional reinforcement, or just plain bad habits picked up from other animals. Give us a call at Off-leash K9 – or click here for a free consultation inquiry – and start your journey for learning how to coach the best behavior out of your best pal today.

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