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Understanding Why Your Dog Barks

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Barking is among the many forms of vocal communication for canines. People are often pleased that their dog barks, because it warns them to the approach of people to their home or it tells them there’s something that the dog needs or wants. However, sometimes a dog’s barking can be excessive.

Because barking acts a number of functions, you have to identify its cause and your dog’s inspiration for barking before you can treat a barking issue.

Each kind of barking serves a unique function for a dog, and if he’s repeatedly rewarded for his barking- in short, if it gets him what he wants -he can figure out how to use barking to his benefit. For instance, dogs who successfully bark for attention often pursue to bark for other things, like food, play and walks.

Because of this, it’s important to train your dog be quiet on cue to help you stop his attention-related barking and teach him to complete another behavior instead -like sit or down -to obtain what he wants.

Many owners can determine why their dog is barking just by hearing the particular bark. For example, a dog’s bark sounds different when he wishes to play compared to when he wants to come in from the yard. If you need to reduce your dog’s barking it’s essential to determine why he’s barking. It may need some time to teach your pooch to bark less. Regrettably, it’s just not realistic to count on a quick fix or to expect that your dog will stop barking altogether.

Your goal will be to decrease, instead of eliminate, the amount of barking. Keep in mind some dogs are more prone to barking than others. Additionally, some dog breeds are called “barkers,” and it can be trickier to reduce barking in individuals of these breeds.

Why Dogs Bark

Territorial Barking
Dogs can bark exceedingly as a result of people, dogs or other animals within or getting close to their territories. Your dog's territory consists of the area surrounding his home and, eventually, anywhere he has explored or associates passionately with you: your vehicle, the road you take during walks and other places where he spends considerable time.

Alarm Barking
If your dog barks at any and every noise and sight no matter the context, he’s most likely alarm barking. Dogs engaged in alarm barking normally have more rigid body language than dogs barking to greet, plus they often move or pounce forward an inch or two with every bark. Alarm barking differs from territorial barking in that a dog might alarm bark at sights or sounds in virtually any place at all, not merely when he’s guarding familiar areas.

Attention-Seeking Barking
Some dogs bark at people or other pets to get attention or rewards, such as food, toys or play.

Greeting Barking
Your pooch might be barking in greeting if he barks when he sees people or other dogs and his body is relaxed, he’s enthusiastic and his tail is wagging. Dogs who bark when greeting people or other animals could also whine.

Compulsive Barking
Some dogs bark exceedingly in a repetitive way, like a broken record. These dogs often move over and over again too. For instance, a dog that is compulsively barking might run forward and backward along the fence in his yard or pace in his home.

Socially Facilitated Barking
Some dogs barks too much only once they hear other dogs barking. This sort of barking happens in the social context of hearing other dogs, even at a distance -such as dogs in the neighborhood.

Frustration-Induced Barking
Some dogs bark overly only when they’re put into an aggravating situation, like when they can’t access play pals or when they’re confined or tied up so that their action is limited.

Other Issues That Induce Barking

Illness or Injury
Dogs sometimes bark as a result of pain or an agonizing condition. Before trying to resolve your dog’s barking problem, please have your pet examined by a vet to eliminate medical causes.

Separation-Anxiety Barking
Excessive barking as a result of separation anxiety occurs only when a dog’s caretaker is gone or when the dog is left alone. You’ll typically see a minimum of one other separation anxiety symptom as well, such as pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress.

How to Handle Your Dog’s Excessive Barking

The first task toward reducing your dog’s barking is to figure out the kind of bark your dog is expressing. The following questions can guide you to precisely choose which type of barking your dog is doing to help you best address your dog’s problem.

When and where does the barking happen?
Who or what is the focus of the barking?
What triggers (people, object, situation) the barking?
Why is your dog barking?

If It’s Territorial Barking or Alarm Barking
Territorial behavior is frequently stimulated by both fear and anticipation of a perceived risk or threat. Because guarding territory is undoubtedly a high priority to them, many canines are highly motivated to bark once they detect the approach of strangers or animals near familiar places, such as their homes and yards.

This top level of motivation implies that when barking territorial, your dog might disregard uncomfortable or punishing responses from you, like scolding or yelling. Even if the barking itself is reduced by punishment, your dog’s motivation to protect his territory will remain powerful, and he might make an effort to control his territory differently, like biting unexpectedly.

Canines participate in territorial barking to alert others to the presence of unknown individuals or to frighten away intruders or both. A dog might bark when he sees or hears people coming over to the door, the mail carrier delivering the mail and the maintenance person examining the gas meter. He might also respond to the sights and sounds of people and dogs passing by your house.

Some dogs get particularly riled up when they’re in the car and see people or dogs go by. You need to be able to judge from your dog’s body posture and actions whether he’s barking to say “Welcome, come on in!” or “Go away. You’re not welcome here!”

To treat territorial barking, your dog’s motivation must be reduced as well as his chances to defend his territory. To handle your dog’s behavior, you’ll need to block his capacity to see people and animals. Detachable plastic film or spray-based glass coatings can assist to obscure your dog’s view of areas that he notices and guards from within your house.

Use secure, opaque fencing to encompass outside areas your pet can access. Don’t allow your dog to greet folks at the front door, at your front yard gate or at your property boundary line. Rather, train him to go to another location, similar to a crate or a mat, and stay quiet until he’s invited to greet properly.

Alarm barking is quite much like territorial barking in that it’s triggered by sights and sounds. Nonetheless, dogs that alarm bark might do so as a result of things that surprise or upset them when they’re not on familiar turf. For instance, a dog who barks
territorial in response to the sight of unknown people drawing near will usually only do so when in his own home, yard or car. By comparison, a pooch who repeatedly alarm barks might vocalize when he sees or hears unknown people drawing near elsewhere, too.

“Quiet” Training

If your dog carries on alarm bark or bark territoriality, in spite of your efforts to bar his exposure to sights and sounds that might set off his barking, try the following strategies:

Train your dog that when someone comes to the door or passes by your premises, he’s allowed to bark until you say “Quiet.” Let your dog bark three times. Then say “Quiet.” Avoid yelling. Just say the command clearly and with ease. Then go to your pet, gently hold his muzzle closed with your hand and repeat “Quiet.” Release your dog’s muzzle, step away, and call him away from the door or window. Then ask him to sit and present him a treat.

If he sits beside you and stays quiet, continue to keep giving him frequent goodies for an additional couple of minutes, until whatever triggered his barking has vanished. If your dog resumes barking instantly, repeat the abovementioned sequence. Do the same outdoors if he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard.

If you like not to hold your dog’s muzzle or if doing so has a tendency to frighten your dog or make him struggle, you can seek a different method. When your dog barks, approach him, smoothly say “Quiet,” and then prompt his silence by giving him a steady flow of tiny, pea-sized treats. After enough practice of this sequence, over a couple of days or more of coaching, your dog will begin to determine what “Quiet” signifies.

You’ll know that he’s catching on if he regularly stops barking when he hears you say “Quiet.” At this time, you can gradually prolong the time between the cue, “Quiet,” and your dog’s treat. Over several repetitions, progressively increase the time.

If the “Quiet” method is unproductive after 10 to 20 tries, then let your dog to bark 3 to 4 times, calmly say “Quiet,” and then right away produce a startling noise by shaking a set
of keys or an empty soda can stuffed with pennies. If your dog is successfully startled by the sound, he’ll stop barking.

The moment he does, call him away from the door or window, ask him to sit, and present him a treat. If he stays beside you and stays quiet, carry on and give him regular treats for the next few minutes until whatever brought about his barking is gone. If he continues barking instantly, repeat the sequence.

If this process doesn’t work after 10 to 20 attempts, seek professional help.

If your dog barks at people or other dogs during walks, draw attention away him with special treats, like chicken, cheese or hot dogs, before he starts to bark. Show your dog the doggie snacks by holding them in front of his nose, and encourage him to nibble at them while he’s walking past a person or dog who'd normally trigger him to bark. Some dogs do best if you ask them to sit as people or other dogs pass. Other canines would rather move. Make sure you compliment and reward your dog with treats whenever he decides not to bark.

If your dog usually barks territorially in your vehicle, teach him to ride in a crate while in the car. Riding in a crate will limit your dog’s view and decrease his motivation to bark. If crating your dog in your car isn’t achievable, try having your dog wear a head halter inside the car instead.

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