Do You Have a
By Luzelle Cockburn
Dealing with a barking dog is no fun! In fact, it’s one of the most common complaints and one of the most difficult to fix.
Why is that? Because dogs love to bark. It feels good, it’s in their DNA, so once you have a problem with barking it can be a lot more difficult to deal with than preventing it in the first place. Not only that, but if you’re not home to help your dog, then you basically have no humane options to help your dog learn not to bark. That is unfortunately the reality.
“I’ve had Raven for a month now, and we still haven’t even worked on “sit”. It’s just not important right now.”
How to prevent barking
Choose your location. One of the best ways to prevent barking from starting up is to put your dog in a location where they are less likely to see or hear the things that they want to bark at. For me, this is inside my house, but my dogs are mostly only crated for a couple of hours at a time and never more than 5 hours, so this is a realistic solution for me. But, for most of us, this is likely not an option, because you likely work all day and that means that your dogs can’t be kept inside the house all day, never mind a small crate.
Block your dog’s view. Another option is to set up a safe area either fenced off or a dog kennel and run in the quiet part of your back yard. This would be a location where your neighbours don’t work in their vege garden or on the opposite wall to the neighbourhood dog who likes to sniff around the fence and antagonise your dogs. You want your dogs to succeed and not fail. Please tell your neighbours not to react when your dog barks (it’s only likely to wind your dog up more) but to communicate with you instead so that you can make adjustments where necessary.
Play a radio. A radio will make other sounds less obvious and, so this might distract your dog from hearing all the little noises in the neighbourhood. Classical music is often more calming than rock music, but you might have to test a few channels to find one that will appropriately block out the neighbourhood noises.
Boredom buster toys. Give your dog something to do like enjoy their breakfast from a boredom buster toy, rather than eating it out of their bowl. Not only will this keep your dog busy but they will be less focussed on everything else going on around them, because they’ll be working for their food.
Exercise and work. We’ve all heard the saying “a tired dog is a good dog”, but mentally tiring out a dog can have a more lasting impact on your dog’s reaction to things around them if they have had training. Leave your walks for the evening and start your day with some brain work. Generally speaking 15 minutes of brain work is the same as 30 minutes of exercise, so you do the math! The SolutionK9 Dog Training Secrets Online Course has plenty of exercises to help your dog work their brain (and it will teach you how to better train your dog too!) https://nzdogtrainer.co.nz/solutionk9-dog-training-secrets/
Firstly, try some of the above suggestions. But, keep in mind if your dog has already practiced barking for a while, it is not going to be an easy fix. And it’s going to be nearly impossible to fix if you’re not home. You could hire a dog walker to give your dog a walk during the day or, if possible try to take your dog to work with you. Ask your boss really nicely, there’s some research that suggests pets in the workplace is a great thing for morale and productivity.
Failing that, You will likely need a training collar, like a citronella collar (or other barking collar, I have two dogs who will bark right through a citronella collar, that is not a suitable training collar for my current dogs, I have had other dogs though, for whom the citronella collar did work) that responds when your dog is barking. This will give your dog a negative association when they bark. But, please never have a training collar to any dog when there are more than one dog in the back yard. The one dog could blame the other dog for causing the annoyance and you could have fights.
Also, if you put a training collar on both dogs, the other dog could have a consequence when the first dog barked and that wouldn’t be fair. So, if you are going to choose a training collar, always use good quality equipment and make sure that the collar doesn’t frighten your dog. And always use it with supervision the first couple of times. It’s never fair to add a training collar to a dog who is not guilty of the crime (which is why using training collars when you have more than one dog isn’t a good idea).
What to do if your neighbours have complained to the council
Ask the council of a copy of the diary your neighbours has kept of the barking. If your neighbours haven’t kept one, you can request one, and that could buy you some time. You may learn that your dog is only barking when school comes out for the day. If this is the case you can employ the services of a dog walker during this time to take your dog out so that they are busy and not barking at the school children.
Go and talk to your neighbours. The problem is that usually by the time people complain they are so over the problem they are no longer reasonable. You can try to explain that you weren’t aware of the problem and that you would like to fix it as soon as possible, however because you are dealing with a living dog who has practiced their bad habits it isn’t going to be an over night thing.
Where neighbours are complaining about dogs barking during play, I’m not very patient with them and I do tend to call them unreasonable. Yes, please don’t send me over to talk to your neighbours. But you may need to invest in a dog run each to prevent play and barking during the day while you are not home.
Help for your Barking Dog
Barking is a serious concern and can result in you losing your dogs. I always recommend trying to prevent the problem in the first place. But, most of us pop the dogs in the back yard during the day while we’re away. This is usually the first step towards trouble. Be prepared for your dog to start barking, because it happens a lot. Barking is in your dog’s DNA, it’s what they were bred for.
I really hope that this article has given you some ideas on how to solve problem barking. This article has focused on barking when you’re not home as that’s the most difficult and common form of barking. If you are experiencing problem barking while you are home, it’s best to consult a dog trainer for specific help with your dog. Please feel free to leave us comments below so that we can clarify any points or give you some further tips! Happy training!
Hey, I’m Luzelle!
If it has to do with transforming your naughty, embarrassing, frustrating or worrying dog into an obedient, well behaved member of the canine society that you can actually enjoy spending your life with, I can help.
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