It is perfectly natural for dogs to bark as barking is part of their character. Barking, in fact, is a form of communication for dogs. Canine yaps when they feel excitement, fear or when they are feeling territorial.
Barking to express fear, excitement or to alarm people is normal. According to dog expert Cesar Millan, “Those forms of barking are rarely a nuisance and don’t last long. That is why nuisance barking almost always has the same cause and the same solution. When a dog barks excessively, it’s telling you that it is bored and is looking for stimulation or a challenge.”
Excessive barking strains the relationship between the dog and its owners. Often, dog owners get frustrated with the loud and frequent barking of their canine pets. Sometimes the frustration of owners results in giving away their pet dogs for adoption or to shelters.
Barking is normal but excessive barking is not. However, a dog owner has several options when it comes to curbing the frequent barking of their pets.
Training and Positive Reinforcement
According to Millan, excessive barking is an indication that there is something wrong with the way the humans or pet owners deal with their canine. “Inevitably, excessive barking indicates there is a problem with the human, and not the dog; there is something not balanced in the pack, so the dog’s needs are not being met. The barking is the only way the dog has to tell you something is wrong,” he noted.
He emphasized that the best way to deal with the excessive barking of your pet is to provide Exercise, Discipline, and Affection. “Exercise and Discipline will provide the physical and psychological stimulation that your dog craves. Affection — but only when your dog is in a calm, submissive state — will reinforce the behavior that you want without rewarding the behavior that you don’t.” Millan stressed.
Do you notice how dogs often bark loudly and excessively once their owners come home and owners respond to the barking of their dogs by being affectionate with them?
Millan says that this behavior of dog owners triggers nuisance barking. Being affectionate towards the dogs that bark upon greeting conveys the message to the dogs that they are being rewarded for their barking. “This is unintended positive reinforcement, and it only takes a few times to train a dog that it’s barking is something you want. But it doesn’t only happen in the above scenario. How many of you come home to be greeted by your dog’s excited jumping and spinning and barking? And how many of you immediately give affection in return for what you interpret as happiness?”
He further noted that “This is one of the most difficult things for dog lovers to grasp. When a dog returns to its pack, they are not greeted with excited barking and jumping. Sometimes, there will be sniffs and tail wags, but most of the time it’s no big deal when a dog comes back to the pack. Unfortunately, we humans tend to make a big deal out of coming and going from home, and this puts your dog in the wrong state of mind.”
Millan’s advice to stop excessive barking is simple; dog owners should challenge their pet canines physically and mentally given that excessive barking may be a result of pent-up energy of dogs. Dog owners should also some spend time with their dogs in activities that stimulate their pets such as walking, playing obedience games and agility training, among others. Plus, Millan reminded dog owners that the trick to make your dogs quit excessive barking is to “not reward unwanted behavior, particularly excitement, with affection.”
Katherine A. Houpt, V.M.D., director of the Animal Behavior Clinic echoes Millan’s thoughts by saying “Nuisance barking may be manageable with behavior modification, but some owners are unwilling or unable to provide consistent, appropriate corrections.”
Anti-bark dog collars
Dog shock collars are made to punish dogs for their barking. These anti-bark collars cause unpleasant sensation to dogs every time they bark, hence, the dogs associate barking with unpleasant feelings and ultimately stop the dogs from yakking too much.
There are different anti- bark collars available in the market—electronic, ultrasonic and citronella spray collars, among others.
The ultrasonic collars emit a painful sound like a beep collar that emits a “beeping” sound every time the dog barks. This startles the dogs the same way a whistle can surprise dogs. Dogs must first be trained that the beep sound will be followed by a form of punishment in order for the dog to associate the “beep” sound with an unpleasant experience.
Electronic bark collars or shock collars deliver an electric current to the dogs in contact points around the neck. Manufacturers claim that the electric shocks given by these collars are just low and do not cause much pain but rather just a tingling sensation. Many of these electric collars in the market allow dog owners to choose and adjust the level of electric current.
Citronella spray collars also shocks the dogs by spraying citronella fumes every time a dog barks. Dogs then eventually associate barking with the unpleasant sensation of having this plant-based fragrance sprayed at them.
For owners who do not have the patience or perhaps time to correct the excessive barking of their pets can also consider getting the services of professional dog experts. These dog experts are well versed on how to provide consistent ways to address dog behavior problems including nuisance barking.
If you want to stop the nuisance barking of your dogs, then you might want to consider any of the three options above. These options can help you enjoy the company of your canine pets and may ultimately save your relationship. Some dog owners easily give up and give away their pet dogs for adoption because of their excessive barking, and end up missing their non-human best friends.