There are many reasons why dogs bark excessively; it is after all their main way of communicating with us. However, when your dog begins to bark unnecessarily you have a problem. There are numerous possible causes, those on the following list are amongst the most common:
- As a warning to others
- Defence of territory against neighbouring dogs.
How to stop it
There are numerous ways to reduce and eventually stop excessive barking. The approach to stopping the barking naturally depends on the cause, but these ideas used in combination may help to solve the problem.
- Try using a dog pheromone like DAP. These come as sprays, plug-in diffusers and slow-release collars, and help to calm nervous and excited dogs.
- Distract the dog with exciting and stimulating toys, such as food balls that engage the dog’s attention as it tries to get the food out.
- Increase the amount of exercise it receives, this will both mentally and physically tire the dog, and so help to reduce its barking
- Make sure the dog receives consistent training. This improves your overall control over the dog, and provides mental stimulation, preventing boredom.
- Avoid responding in any positive way when your dog barks. This includes reassurance, a treat, or throwing the favourite ball as a method of distraction. A positive response from you provides reinforcement to your dog, and actually encourages them to repeat the behaviour.
- Train your dog to stop barking on command. Use a one-word command like “stop” or “quiet”, and make sure the rest of the family is consistent in giving the command also.
If, having tried the above suggestions, your dog is still barking a lot consider enlisting the help of a canine behaviourist. Your vet will often be able to recommend someone who is properly qualified.