dog barkingWhen it comes to dog barking the first thing I always try to drive home to my clients is ‘am I hearing appropriate or inappropriate barking?’

Dogs are naturally creatures who will bark. That doesn’t mean that it’s always a bad thing. There is no right answer to what is nuisance barking and what isn’t. Truthfully, it all boils down to what you as the owner have decided is okay.

For example, I allow my dogs to bark at people as they pass in front of our house. Part of the reason we have dogs is for protection of the home. I don’t, however, allow them to sit and endlessly bark at construction workers as they work in the street in front of our home or in the fields behind our home.

After deciding what is okay as far as dog barking and what isn’t it’s time to start altering the needless barking that you don’t want. The following outlines some of the major and most common forms of barking:

Bored Barking

This one makes me sad. I see this a lot with dogs that are left alone in the back yard for too long of periods. Often the dog isn’t barking AT anything; rather he or she is simply barking because of boredom. If I were left in the backyard all day every day I may find myself a bored barker as well. With a bored barker you may consider bringing the dog inside. Take him or her on more walks and pay more attention. Get out in the yard and play games. Hide things in the yard and encourage the dog to find them. Provide your dog with plenty of toys that are interesting and time consuming. There are myriad things that you can try but it all boils down to giving your dog more….

More attention…more exercise…more training…more training….more activity.

Don’t every forget. Your dog is an intelligent and living, breathing creature. You can’t just coop up an animal like that and expect that there won’t be behavior problems.

Nuisance Barking- I define nuisance barking as a dog who is barking for a reason.

Just…a very bad reason.

Nuisance Barking

Nuisance barking is a dog who is barking at squirrels, barking at cars, reflections, cats, every noise, and every movement. Sure, the dog had a purpose to bark but it was just a lousy purpose.

This type of barking tends to stem from dogs who are anxious and/or don’t have much structure. A lot of dogs like this are screaming out for ‘micro-management’.

For those of you out there who have a boss you may be hearing the word ‘micro-management’ and it quite possibly may send chills up your spine. Many people hate to have small details force-fed to them.

One the contrary, most dogs love to be micro-managed. They just want someone to tell them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. In the absence of such stimulation they get anxious and hyper-sensitive to their surroundings.

Many people know their dog needs a job but they just aren’t sure how to do it. Here is how. Micro-manage your dog. When you eat breakfast have him lie down and stay for a few minutes. When you go to your room to make the bed have him follow and sit while you do that. When you watch TV have him lie in his bed for an hour. Before you walk through a door have him wait. Have him walk perfectly on leash.

Basically, require him to do lots of things throughout the day. This occupies the mind and bring structure. Structure is the opposite of frantic and frenetic nuisance barking.

Most dogs who live like this for a while will soon enter into a structured state of mind and will self regulate. That way you don’t have to try to worry about micro-managing your dog for the next 10 years.

Aggressive Barking

Aggressive barking is the most serious and the most difficult to fix.,

Please see our page on how to fix dog aggression for more details.

In a nutshell, though, fixing aggressive barking includes three steps:

  1. Obtain a high level of obedience. I’m not talking about sitting for a cookie. I’m talking about a dog who is highly obedient regardless of the distractions.
  2. Use that obedience in situations where your dog barks aggressively. When he wants to bark and lunge at the dog on the walk have him walk perfectly instead. When he wants to lunge at the person coming through the door have him lie down and stay instead.
  3. Correct the aggression when it occurs.

These aren’t the only types of barking I see, they just happen to be the most common. As with most dog training principles I preach so much of fixing dog barking relies on a solid relationship and healthy doses of obedience.

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Image Credit: blhphotography