Control Your Barking Dog: Behavior Modification In a Nutshell

Barking dog behavior is part and parcel of dog ownership. Here are some tips to help you control your dog's barking behavior.

Reasons for Dog Barking Behavior

Dogs bark for various reasons, such as alerting you to danger or to warn off a strange intruder. These are the sorts of dog barking behaviors that we want our dogs to display.

Attention-seeking barking behavior is often displayed by puppies when they want your attention. Attention-seeking barking should always be ignored.

Play barks are short and sharp. They occur when your dog gets overexcited during play. A short break can help your dog calm down.

Self-identification barking dog behavior is what your dog does when he seems to be responding to the barking of other dogs nearby. He is announcing his presence to them.

Your dog may bark when bored; this behavior shows a need for a change in environment.

Dogs with separation anxiety may bark when lonely or anxious. Your dog may also bark when startled.

Controlling Barking Dog Behavior

One of the keys to controlling barking dog behavior is to remain calm. Your dog looks to you for cues as to how to behave.

Shouting "No!" when your dog barks only compounds the problem. Your dog will think you are barking, too. Instead, choose another word, such as "Enough!" to command your dog to stop its barking dog behavior. Use this word consistently, every time, and make sure the whole family uses it consistently, too.

Be patient with your dog. Do not become angry when your dog's behavior fails to change right away. Behavior modification takes a long time. Anger and wrath will only make it harder for you to change your dog's barking behavior. Your dog will sense those emotions from you.

Reward your dog for good barking behavior with treats and praise.

Do not play into your dog's barking. Reassuring your dog when he barks reinforces the barking behavior.

Set up controlled situations in which you can work on modifying your dog's barking behavior. These sessions should last five to ten minutes a piece.

Pathological Barking

All of the barking dog behaviors mentioned above are normal barking behaviors. However, there is such a thing as pathological barking behavior. Pathological barking occurs when dogs bark excessively, in an obsessive-compulsive manner, and often at inappropriate things. Dogs with pathological barking behavior become hyper-excited or even aggressive while engaged in the pathological barking behaviors.

Modification of pathological dog barking behaviors often requires the assistance of a veterinarian and an animal behaviorist. In addition, the whole family must cooperate, and consistently follow professional instructions, to modify pathological barking behavior.