Dog barking constantly - Why? How to solve the problem?

  Dog barking constantly: Why? How to solve the problem?

A dog who barks constantly quickly becomes annoying for his master but also for the neighborhood, even the close entourage (family, friends). The "barking" dog can become difficult to live with: how to deal with a dog that barks at visitors and passers-by? Or a dog that barks alone when its masters are away from home? This is an unfortunately common behavior problem. To begin, you will need to identify the exact cause of his barking, before taking the necessary measures to put an end to this bad habit, which is often well anchored...

Why is my dog barking?

There are different profiles of "barking" dogs: some simply seek to communicate by this means, to attract attention, or even to claim something. Other dogs, left alone at home in the absence of their master, cannot stand loneliness and thus express their feeling of abandonment. Still, others bark quite naturally to defend the house or their territory... sometimes a little too much.

It may be a deeper behavioral problem, if the dog is dominant in particular, that only tailor-made training can correct; it will then be necessary to go back to the basics slowly but surely, sometimes with the help of a canine behaviorist. But above all, take the time to observe your dog identify the cause of his untimely barking.

Identify the problem

To put an end to barking, several solutions must be adapted according to the reasons that lead your dog to adopt this annoying behavior. If your dog barks in your presence, there is every chance that he is asking for attention: you will first have to consider devoting more time to him, while doing what is necessary to break this habit.

We can then use certain conditioning techniques, or counter-conditioning as the case may be thanks to positive/negative reinforcement: reward the dog when he is silent, and on the contrary, ignore him when he barks. Raising your voice when the dog barks is not a lasting solution. Finally, keep in mind that it is completely normal and natural for a dog to express itself by voice, and it is better to have a dog that barks from time to time rather than an animal that depresses in silence, because he could come to exteriorize his discomfort in an even more embarrassing way, in particular by destructive behavior: ransacking your apartment, defecating inside... The whole thing is to make him understand the limits, show him what is acceptable and what is not.

Socialize your dog

This is the first thing to ask yourself: is your dog sufficiently socialized? Is he used to humans and other dogs, and to different types of people such as children, the elderly (see: puppy training)... Indeed, it happens that some dogs react to a particular "stimulus", often out of fear; it can be something very specific, such as people carrying a shopping cart, an umbrella, a hat, a certain type of clothing... If this is the case for your dog, once the "stimuli" or "stimuli" have been identified, it may be relatively easy and quick to remedy the problem. This consists in accustoming the dog to what makes it bark: for example, if it always barks at children, invites children to your home and tells your dog to stay in his place; then, invite him to come to say hello, and let the children reward him with treats.

Work on your obedience

Training is always the best way to remedy a dog's bad behavior. Start by teaching your dog a single command, always using the same word and the same intonation, to demand silence: "Shut up!"; "Quiet!"; "hush!", etc. Always remain patient, positive, and optimistic during the sessions, and do not hesitate to use other exercises to develop obedience: by repeating the basic orders such as "sit", "come here", "standstill", you set limits for him and help reduce his stress – a barking dog is often lacking in reference points, and by spending time with him you will help him (re)take his bearings.

If it is a dominant dog, you will thus restore its place in the hierarchy by training it to obey you. Apart from the exercises, try not to pay any attention to him if he starts barking: even looking at him will give him the impression that he has gotten the attention he wants! Force yourself to ignore him completely, and reward him whenever he stops, even accidentally.

Calm the dog's fears

This method is valid for dogs who bark when they are alone at home: this behavior comes from a fear of being abandoned, which you will have to take fully into account to correct. You can gradually accustom him to certain signs that mean to him that you are going to leave, for example taking your coat, packing your bag...

The technique consists in making false starts, that is to say in carrying out these gestures while not leaving the home at first; try to put him in situations regularly, at different times of the day, so that he no longer dreads this particular moment. Speak to him in a reassuring voice and send him instead; as soon as he obeys, leaves for a short time, then comes back into the room and rewards him.

When the dog stops making noise after you leave, gradually increase the time away and the distance (going out onto the landing, into the street, etc.) and test it by closing a door behind you, while staying in the next room. Listen to the dog's behavior and, if he remains calm, reward him again after several minutes. You can also use the radio method: as soon as you return to the room, turn on the set so that it associates the sound of the radio with your presence. You can then go away by leaving the radio on, this will be enough to reassure some dogs.

Last resort

If despite all your attempts the barking persists, we can consider the use of an anti-barking collar 
(see: anti-barking collar ); be aware that there are citronella collars, which are less violent than electric impulse collars. When he barks, a small dose of citronella is released, and it's an odor that dogs generally dislike. Consult your veterinarian (barking can also be a symptom that the dog is suffering) or a behaviorist before proceeding further.

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