I recently answered an e-mail from a woman who was frustrated with her barking dog. She described the problem like this, “My dog barks at home constantly. He jumps up at every noise and barks for 10 to 15 minutes. My husband and I call his name and say ‘NO!’ until he stops, but it seems like only a few minutes before he’s back to barking at something. It’s driving us crazy.” The e-mail revealed the dog also barks on walks, the dog barks when anyone comes through the door, and the dog sits by a window to bark at passersby.
Problem dog barking is one of the most frustrating dog behavior problems and the cause of many headaches. Constant barking is caused by a lack of leadership on your part. Without a clear understanding of leadership, her dog feels insecure and barks to work out that anxiety. The problem has a two-part solution: creating leadership and redirecting the behavior.
Here’s what I told her to do to create a leadership relationship with her dog:
- Require your dog to earn everything that he wants from you i.e. food, toys, love and affection by giving you a “sit.”
- Require him to sit before getting on beds, sofas, etc.
- Require him to sit before walks
- Do daily regimens of 2 minute training session to give him a sense of working (because you as her leader requested the behavior) instead of feeling responsbile for it himself.
As for redirecting the behavior, it’s important to know that 90% of what goes on between us and our puppies and dogs is emotional. Very little is intellectual. Keep your emotion in-check by following these guidelines when the barking starts:
- Don’t involve your dog in excited departures or arrivals. This tends to cause him to have emotional highs at important, critical times of the day which in turn can lead to disorders such as separation anxiety.
- Ignore your dog for 5 minutes before departing your home and 5 minutes after arriving at home.
- Don’t shout at your dog with anger or frustration when correcting a behavior. Your dog will think you are “barking” too, thereby convincing your dog the barking is appreciated by you.
- Do decide what you would prefer your dog to do instead of what you are correcting her for and then train him to perform the good behavior. This is another great time to use a “sit.”
Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember—-“Opportunity Barks”