CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) When it comes to your dog barking, – Knowing “why” helps with the “bow how”; Jill Haley Rose, Certified Professional Dog Trainer from Paws of Nature Family Dog Training shared her tips.
Responding to Dog Barks:
Attention Seeking Barking:
- Dog has learned that barking gets his people to give him attention in some way. Dog barks, person throws ball. Dog brings ball back. Dog barks some more, person throws ball. Soon the barking becomes louder and stronger because the consequence was always having the ball thrown. Dogs can learn to bark for petting if the person always touches the dog right after he barks. Some dogs are driven by any attention, even negative. Which is why yelling at the dog frequently doesn’t work. The dog still got the attention.
- Solution: As hard as it may be in the beginning, the dog owner must be conscientious of every moment they respond to the barking. They should not talk to or even look at the dog the moment he starts barking. Ignoring the behavior is no longer giving it the reinforcement that is driving the behavior. If that is difficult for the owner, than the moment the dog starts barking, they should immediately walk away and go to another room and shut the door. They should stay away for at least 1 minute, then return as long as the dog is quiet. Teach the dog a polite replacement behavior such as sitting or lying down for attention instead.
“Watchdog” Boredom Barking:
- This type of barking develops when a dog’s mental and/ or physical needs are not being met. The dog chooses to find something fun to do to burn up mental and physical energy. So he starts watching for people, dogs, cars, etc from windows or fences and barks excitedly to let his people know what he sees.
- Solution: Different breeds have different exercise requirements, some more, some less. In general, young dogs need 1 to 2 hours a day of aerobic exercise. Games such as chasing and retrieving thrown balls or other toys or play time with another dog are great ways to achieve this. Burn up both physical and mental energy by providing stimulating food and interactive puzzle toys. Have the dog work to figure out how to get his treat from the toy. Feed his meals from a packed Kong or other interactive food dispensing toy such as a Kibble Nibble Ball. Spending at least 10 minutes a day exercising your dog’s brain through obedience training is important as well.
“Watchdog” Anxiety Barking:
- These dogs are barking at people, dogs, cars, and even sounds they see and hear from the windows or fence. Generally, the underlying reason is fear and anxiety of strangers and/or other dogs. Eventually the behavior becomes stronger and more intense because the dog believes his alarm barking is actually making the person go away. So a person walking past the fence, dog runs along fence barking and growling, person keeps walking past and goes away. The barking now has reinforced the dog’s desire to make the anxiety producing event disappear.
- Solution: This is a more complex situation and sometimes can benefit from the help of a behavior consultant. But there are many things the owner can do to improve the situation.
Don’t allow dog to be in yard unsupervised and running the fence line. Teach the dog a good recall, “Come” when called. Give a magnificent reinforcement for coming – a smelly piece of chicken or cheese vs a dry boring biscuit. Practice frequently when it is quiet and the dog isn’t being stimulated by people walking past initially.
Don’t allow the dog to race from window to window “chasing” the person away. Keep shades closed. Practice your recall 20 times a day, especially when it is quiet . Always use a fantastic treat for coming.
Burn up mental and physical energy using a combination of aerobic activities and food and puzzle dispensing toys. Play “kibble toss” – scatter his kibble meal around the yard or house and let him use his nose to hunt for his food.
Separation Distress Barking:
- Separation distress barking occurs when the dog is left alone or separated from his owner. It is frequently presented as a frantic sounding bark, with high pitch whining and sometimes howling. Dogs who are going through separation distress are in a panicked state of mind. They will frequently chew and dig at exit/ entry points such as doorways or windows as well as chew and bend apart wire cage bars. They may salivate excessively and even lose control of their bowel and bladder in more severe cases.
- Solution: For mild cases, keep departures and arrivals low key and uneventful. No big love fest when you come home. Be very neutral for at least 10 minutes. Wait for the dog to calm down before giving calm attention. Do practice departures where you leave the dog with a food puzzle toy or favorite delicious chew. Leave the house, then come right back and ignore dog. Do this randomly for short durations. If the distress is of the more severe category, consult with an experienced behavioral consultant as well as your veterinarian.
All About Tug:
- Tug – Playing tug is a great physical outlet for dogs but rules must be put in place and followed long before the game is allowed to build any duration. In the beginning, tug sessions should be only a few seconds at a time. You build up to longer duration gradually as the dog is able to follow all the rules very well. Young children should not be allowed to play tug.
The Rules of Tug
- 1) Tug on tug toys only: Special toys used specifically for tug games. Toy gets put away when not actively playing game. No “in the moment” tug games with random objects or toys. Toy should be large enough so that there is plenty of space between both ends.
- 2) Dog must take toy politely: Dog must sit politely and wait for handler to give the cue to “take it”. Eventually the handler should be able to hold toy over their chest and that should be the dog’s cue to sit and wait politely.
- 3) Dog must release toy when asked: Once handler gives his “drop” cue, dog must immediately loosen grip and release toy.
- 4) Frequent obedience breaks in between play: Dog should do some trained behaviors such as a sit, down, or a trick he knows in between game restarts.
- 5) Game penalty time outs for breaking rules number 2 and 3. GAME OVER if dog nicks you with his teeth: Use a consistent time out penalty cue such as “Oh! Too Bad!” and dramatically stash toy in drawer and ignore dog for 30 seconds. If teeth touch body at any point say “OUCH!” very loudly and dramatically put toy away. Game ends.