Like it or not, but dogs naturally do bark. They bark to express themselves and communicate with others. It is totally normal if your dog barks once in a while; however, regular excessive barking is considered to be a dog behavior problem.
Before you can treat your dog’s excessive barking habit you must identify and preferably remove its cause. Excessive barking is usually caused by one of the following:
#1: Your dog is barking because he is anxious about something. This type of barking is usually high-pitched and often accompanied by whining. This is common for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.
#2: The dog is barking to warn you, other people or other dogs about something. If a stranger passes your house, it is natural that your dog starts barking to warn you about the potential danger. Sometimes the dog also intends to intimidate the stranger to protect himself or his territory. This type of barking is usually loud, sharp and authoritative.
#3: Some dogs and especially puppies may bark out of joy and excitement. This often happens when the puppy is playing with you or other dogs.
#4: The dog is trying to communicate with other dogs. You may have noticed that your dog usually responds to other dogs barking in the neighborhood.
#5: Your dog may be barking out of boredom or to seek attention. If your dog is bored and gets little exercise, he might be barking to release his pent-up energy or simply because he has nothing better to do. An attention-seeking dog usually just wants to remind you of his existence.
Once you find out the cause of the barking, you can start working on this problem. If possible, the first thing you should do is eliminate the cause of the excessive barking:
#1: If your dog is barking out of boredom, make his life more interesting. Take him for a walk or play a game with him, but only do this when the dog is no longer barking. You do not want your dog to think he gets rewarded for excessive barking. Also, avoid leaving your dog alone or in a crate for too many hours as that fosters barking.
#2: Do not punish your dog for braking. Shouting or hitting only make things worse as the dog will become distressed and thus even more likely to bark excessively. I also do not recommend using shock collars—that is a cruel way to treat your beloved dog. Instead of using punishments stick to positive reinforcement dog training.
#3: It is very important that you do not reward your dog for barking: do not try to calm or comfort the dog while he is barking or else you are reinforcing it. Instead, try to get the barking dog’s attention. Make a loud clap or whistle to distract your dog from barking. Reward your dog soon after he stops: give a little treat, pet or simply praise him.
#4: You can also use basic dog obedience training commands to distract your dog from barking. Make your dog sit or lie down—in many cases that will be enough to shift your dog’s attention from barking.
#5: It may take a while to stop your dog’s excessive barking, so you must deal with it persistently. However, if your dog keeps barking virtually all the time and, despite your best efforts, you see no progress whatsoever, you may want to consult your vet.
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