Dogs bark for a variety of their very own important reasons. We may think they bark primarily to annoy us, or get us in trouble with our neighbors, but that is rarely the case.
Dogs bark to communicate but what they are trying to communicate can be rather vague, at least to us. Dogs bark because they are lonely, bored, worried, excited, frightened, protective, hungry, in need of attention, or because no one tells them to stop.
There is a difference between a dog that just barks (that is annoying), and one that barks at passing strangers or javelina. Most neighbors are happy to be warned of an intruder. Listen to the bark and respond accordingly.
Barking can be a serious problem and is one of the primary reasons dogs are turned in to the humane society. Dog owners do not like barking. Neighbors hate it and just might call the police to report the annoyance. Owners can be issued a citation and ordered to pay a fine. Multiple barking dogs can cause quite a disturbance.
Many owners are convinced there is nothing they can do about barking. They yell at the dog but, as they turn away, the barking continues. Some worry that by curbing the barking, the dog will not protect when needed.
That is not the case unless the dog has encountered excessive punishment. Dogs are by nature protective and will always bark to alert us of danger. Have a couple of rolled-up newspapers strategically located. When your dog barks, sharply say, “No bark!” and slap the newspaper against your leg. The dog will look at you and wonder about your new strange behavior, but he will pay attention. When he stops barking, say in a very friendly and positive voice, “Good no bark.” If he barks again, repeat the process. When he stops barking, repeat the “Good no bark” and add “Lets have a treat.”
It is terribly tempting for a dog to run along the fence barking when another dog is passing by. Allow your dog a bark or two to inform the passing dog that this is private and patrolled property. But then say, “That’s enough. No bark!”
When several dogs are playing together, a couple of barks are almost required to maintain the macho status, but stop repeated barking.
If you receive complaints that your dog barks when you are not home, provide your neighbor with his very own rolled-up newspaper and ask him to slap it against the fence or tree or leg and say “No bark!”
The key to controlling barking is consistency. When you are cozily watching your favorite movie in front of a crackling fire and you hear the dogs outside barking, you MUST get up, grab the rolled newspaper, go out into the cold and say in a very commanding voice “No bark!” Your failure to stop the barking some of the time lets the dogs know that this behavior is allowed some of the time.
With determination and consistency, you can control annoying barking and avoid annoying your neighbors. (Come on neighbors. They have to bark once in a while. It’s a dog thing.)
When your dog barks, say “No bark!” And mean it.