Friday, November 9, 2012

More About Barking

Previously, we talked about teaching your dog to stop barking on command by using his pattern or melody. This method works best for barking that is frequent and consistant, such as barking at the Mail Carrier.

Now let's explore other barking factors.  For example. Does your dog bark when he's in his own backyard?  To figure out how to control the barking you need to determine why he's barking. 

If he's sitting at the backdoor barking, he probably wants to be let inside.  As long as you are OK with that and let him in under these circumstances, his barking is purposeful and he is a good dog! 

If he is barking at a squirrel he just treed, he is having fun.  Tell him what an awesome predator he is!  As long as he doesn't keep barking and barking and barking, this has simply been an enjoyable episode.  But, if he keeps barking, you may want to to use the previously discussed melody system to teach the stop barking command.

What if he's barking willy nilly?  No neighbor dogs are barking, there is no stranger standing in the driveway, there doesn't even seem to be any birds flying by, in short, he appears to be barking just to bark.  Then you may be dealing with boredom.  Maybe he's got nothing else to do to amuse himself, so he barks.  Give him a Kong filled with peanut butter, take him for a walk or ride.  Play with him.  A dog who is bored is likely to get in trouble.  Today it may be barking.  Tomorrow he may dig a hole in your flower bed.  Next week he may dig under the fence, leave the yard and be hit by a truck. What a terrible way to solve a barking problem.

If he's barking at you and does so habitually, let me give it to you straight:  your dog is a brat.  If you are charmed by bratty dogs, you'll be happy together.  If you would rather not be pushed around by your dog, obedience training is in order.  After he begins to obey you instead of trying to boss you around, that barking problem will likely be gone.  If a barking problem does develop- teach him a stop barking command with the melody system.

What if he only barks at dogs when he is outside or on the leash or in the car or where ever, you ask?  Recognize that he is noticing dogs.  Try to figure out why.  He may simply be protecting his territory.  If so, the melody system can reduce the barking.  Maybe he is lonely.  He's sees another dog and wants to visit.  Consider taking him to a dog park or arranging a play date with a friend's dog and see what happens.  Your dog may be gregarious, that's all.  Of course, if your dog behaves aggressively when close to another dog, clearly he is not looking to visit.  It is best that such dogs remain loners. 

Sometimes you can't quite figure why a dog barks at another dog, especially when on a leash.  Some will say it's your fault.  Your nervousness, or whatever, is being transmitted to the dog through the leash.  (Surprise!  I have an opinion on that and will no doubt share it one of these days!) Meanwhile, you can get the dog to stop barking by distracting him.  Making him sit and pay attention to you works well.  While he is busy sitting and waiting for you to whip out a treat the other dog has walked on, and/or your dog has forgotten about that dog because he is focused on you.  Repeatedly distracting him when he barks under those conditions usually extinguishes that habit.


  1. I grew up with dogs, with a mother who raised show dogs and seemed to know everything about them...and still I find myself learning so much from your blog. Thank you, Lynn!

  2. Good advice. Still having trouble with Fiona and I like the idea of distracting her because she gets distracted fairly easy.

  3. And if they're barking at the ghost only they can see... there's not a whole lot you can do.