Dogs express themselves through barking. It is normal and natural for a dog to bark. Excessive or nuisance barking is when a dog barks constantly, most of the day, or for any reason. Typically excessive barking is a sign of stress or boredom in the dog. In addition, certain breeds are predisposed to nuisance barking. Hunting dogs. herding dogs, guardians and terriers tend to be very vocal.
Dogs bark to communicate. Dogs may bark to alert or warn others of something out of the ordinary, or bark to defend their territory. Other innocent reasons a dog may bark is to incite another dog to play or simply from excitement. Nuisance barking generally comes into play when a dog is frustrated, lonely, bored or wants attention.
As an attention-seeking behavior, dogs often learn that if they bark long and loud enough, they will get what they want — left into the house, attention from the owner, etc. When this happens, it becomes self-reinforcing. The dog barks incessantly, and then get what he wants. He knows the barking will reward him with what he wants. It is important not to reward the dog when he is barking.
The first step to deal with nuisance barking is to determine the cause of the barking. Is the dog bored, frightened, excited or defensive? Never reward unwanted barking. If the dog is barking constantly at people on the sidewalk, perhaps you can move him to a more quiet area.
Alert and Guardian/Defensive Barking: If the dog sees people passing by or coming to the door, it is not unusual for a dog to sound an alarm. This is fine, as long as the dog stops barking once the source of his concern is gone. If the dog continues to bark, then try to teach a command of “quiet”.
Barking at Other Dogs: This is another form of barking for attention. Your dog either wants to get attention from the other dogs so that he can play with them, or he is concerned about them (fear) and alerting to keep them away.
Fear Barking: If something in the environment is scaring your dog or making him uneasy, then try to desensitize him to the source of his concerns. Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., a certified applied animal behaviorist and author of several books, has some great ideas on her website regarding counter-conditioning, a way to desensitize your pet to stimulus that is bothering him. Reward calm behavior only, and try to associate the source of the problem with good things for your pet.
Attention Seeking: This is a common reason for nuisance barking. Your dog is simply bored, and knows that if he barks long enough or loud enough, he will get the attention seeks. Don’t give into his demands when he is barking for attention. If you “reward” him with the attention that he is seeking, you will only reinforce the behavior. Once your dog realizes that barking non-stop will not get attention, his barking may stop. Reward him when he is quiet.
Boredom: Boredom is related to attention-seeking, and is usually the result of pent-up energy and frustration. Try to find ways to alleviate your dog’s boredom by scheduled play, walks, hikes and/or training. Dogs love to play, and they love attention from their owners. Just be sure you do not reward your dog with attention when he is in a barking episode, as this will be self-rewarding to the dog. Try to schedule play and exercise periodically throughout the day, so that your dog will have mental stimulation to alleviate boredom.
How to Stop Nuisance Barking
There are other tools that you can use to help curb nuisance barking. Bark control collars have been known to help reinforce what your dog has been taught. Static Bark Control Collars use a light electrical impulse to remind your dog that excess barking is unacceptable, and Ultrasonic Bark Control Collars use a high-pitch sound that is inaudible to humans. Most Bark Control Collars also have a vibration mode as a gentle reminder for your dog.
Static Bark Control
- DogTek BC-60 Bark Control Collar
- DogTek NoBark Static Bark Control Collar
- Dogtra iQ No Bark Collar
- Dogtra YS300 No Bark Collar – Small to Medium Dogs
- Dogtra YS500 No Bark Collar – Medium to Large Dogs
- DT Systems Big Dog No Bark Collar
- DT Systems Mini Rechargeable No Bark Collar
- DT Systems Ultra Min-e 2090 No Bark Trainer
- Garmin BarkLimiter
- Garmin BarkLimiter Deluxe
- IMPI Bark Control Collar
- Motorola Scout Bark 100 No-Bark Collar
Ultrasonic Bark Control
A tired well-exercised dog is a good dog! Don’t forget to play with your dog and spend time with him. Often unwanted behaviors can be curbed through scheduled exercise and training. Make time for your dog so that you can reinforce wanted behaviors, and then some of the problem behaviors will diminish over time. Good luck, and have fun with your dog! He is your special friend, so don’t forget to take time out of your busy day to attend to his needs for social interaction with his family.