Five ways to stop your dog driving you barking mad
TIRED OF TRYING TO MAKE YOURSELF HEARD OVER A BARKING DOG? US TOO – AND THAT’S CERTAINLY ENOUGH SHOUTING FOR NOW. Dogs are sociable and clever creatures. They bark for a huge number of reasons as they try to communicate with their human families. But, sometimes, excessive barking can be stressful for all parties – and especially the postman or woman
If your dog’s barking is causing problems for you, your neighbours and even other dogs, there are plenty of things you can try to solve the problem. Here are our top five tips for preventing excessive barking in our canine friends:
1. Work out why your dog is barking
Firstly, you need to establish why your dog is barking so much. Is it ‘alarm barking’, where your dog is trying to tell you something (there’s someone at the door mum!), excitement, frustration, boredom or separation anxiety from being left alone? Once you understand why your dog is barking so much, you’ll have a much better chance at solving the problem.
2. Back to school…
Gentle training techniques can work wonders for excessive barking, and the ‘speak and shush’ technique is one method you can try. This involves teaching your dog to ‘speak’ first, by creating reasons or prompts for your dog to bark - and rewarding this behaviour. When this part of the training has been established, you can teach your dog to ‘shush’ by offering treats to stop them from barking, and praising this behaviour too. There are countless YouTube videos and online articles with tips. Remember to take your time and have patience as your dog learns these new skills.
The overall idea is that, after the training is complete, your dog will understand the ‘shush’ command and stop barking when they hear it.
3. Plenty of exercise
Exercise and fresh air is great for dogs of all ages and sizes. Making sure your dog has plenty of walks and outdoor fun will mean that they are well rested when they’re at home. This can help hugely with excessive barking as a tired dog is a happy dog. And hopefully a quiet one!
4. Doggy daycare
When your dog is left alone at home for long periods of time, this can lead to excessive barking as it will be lonely, frustrated and bored. If you have to leave your dog at home while you go to work, ask your boss if your dog can come to the office occasionally – or arrange for a friend or family member to take it for a walk to break up the day. Or you can take your dog along to doggy day care.
If you’ve no choice but to leave your dog at home, try and minimise the length of time. You should also leave the television on and give your dog an old, unwashed piece of clothing so they can smell you and the family to feel more secure.
5. Ignore your dog when they are barking for attention
If your dog barks at you to demand attention, don’t get cross and shout back. For starters, this will do nothing to curb the barking as they’ll probably think you’re barking along with them. The best way to deal with ‘demand’ barking is to turn your back and ignore them – no eye contact, no shouting, nothing. When they stop barking, you can turn round and give them attention
There are products on the market such as anti-bark collars that deliver small electric shocks when a dog barks. However, but these are illegal in some parts of the UK and considered to be cruel and ineffective by most veterinary professionals. They don’t solve the root of the problem, and your dog will more than likely take its frustration or fear out on its owners in a different way, such as chewing up the furniture.
We understand that excessive barking can be annoying and stressful, but your dog is trying to communicate with you. It’s better to listen and work out a solution than to suppress your dog’s natural behaviour.
You should consider contacting your vet to discuss the problem further. They can rule out whether there is a medical problem that might be causing your dog to bark. Sometimes, excessive barking in older dogs can be a sign of ill health or senility.
We know you want the best for your dog, so if the problem persists, you can also seek advice from a reputable pet behaviourist.
This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.