Barking is natural. It’s one of the ways dog communicate. Different barks can mean different things. Dogs bark to alert us to a strange noise, bark in celebration when someone comes home from work, or bark when playing and chasing a toy or another dog to express happiness. But sometimes problems can develop where your dog may continually bark and you can’t figure out why.
What can you do?
1: Control and follow through when telling your dog to stop barking. You may use a look, sound, or physical movement but you must follow through. Even if your dog sits and looks relaxed, his brain may still be on overdrive and he might return to barking once you walk away or turn your back. Follow through and be patient. Wait till your dog seems to have “snapped out of it” and completely submits to your command before you go back to what you’re doing.
2: Stay calm! Hearing your dog bark in the same tone over and over and over again can be irritating and you won’t be able to effectively control the problem if your dog can tell you’re frustrated. He’s frustrated too! Having both of you on edge won’t do any good. Do your best to stay calm. Dogs will react to your emotions and if you don’t show that you’re calm, controlled, and confident, he won’t listen and will just keep barking.
3: If your dog is obsessing over an object, another dog, or another person – stake your claim. Try to create an invisible wall with your body language and “own” the object. Let your dog know that you have the item and it’s ok. They can’t throw a fit at it. It may take some time to establish this boundary but once you do the results will be great.
4: Make sure your dog has enough stimulus and exercise to keep his brain and body active and not have pent up energy and frustration. Daily walks, runs, and play time are all important. Try more challenging things like a hike or bike ride when the weather is good. Your dog may also thrive if he’s taken to a training class or agility class. Find something that adds some flavor to your dog’s life and you may have a calm, peaceful house.