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Pet Education & Training

Common Behavioral Problems

Excessive barking

Excessive Barking

1. First, determine the type of barking: excited play-alert, fearful-alarm, demand or dominance, territorial, or boredom.
2. Make sure the dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
3. Reward quiet behavior.
4. Treats need to be AMAZING to get a dog’s attention away from what he is barking at.
5. This could take several weeks to accomplish, so don’t give up.
6. Keep the dog on a leash when working on this problem so that you can monitor how close he is to whatever is causing the barking.
7. Only praise and treat when the dog is not barking.
8. I WOULD SUGGEST TO NOT USE VERBAL OR PHYSICAL CORRECTIONS FOR BARKING, ESPECIALLY ON FEARFUL OR SENSITIVE DOGS. It might make the dog aggressive towards what he is barking at and fearful of the owner.

Excited Play-Alert Barking
This type of barking is usually directed at things the dog sees but cannot get to such as squirrels, other dogs, etc. The dog is relaxed and hackles are not up.

1. Continue to work on obedience cues.
2. Expose the dog to those things he wants to bark at but at a distance he can tolerate without barking.
3. If he begins barking, lure his attention away from whatever he is barking at with a great treat in your hand. Back up and make sure the dog’s attention/nose is on your hand. Praise and give the treat.
4. When the dog gives his attention to you, give praise and treats.
5. If he barks, you are too close. Back away until at a distance he doesn’t bark or become aroused. Gradually move closer.

Fearful-Alarm Barking
This type of barking is usually demonstrated by under-socialized or genetically shy dogs when they see something they are fearful of or something new. The dog may hide behind owner, have tail low or tucked, and hackles up. BARKING IS NOT THE PROBLEM. FEAR IS THE PROBLEM.

1. Do not reprimand this dog. It will only make the dog more fearful.
2. Work far enough away from the object of fear to not cause anxiety in your dog.
3. FOOD OVERCOMES FEAR. If he won’t eat your treat, choose a different/tastier one.
4. Gradually move your dog closer to what he fears. This make take weeks.
5. Use a calm tone of voice and relax your posture so as to not encourage fearful behavior in your dog.
6. Do not soothe a fearful dog/barker. Redirect his attention calmly and with treats.

Demand or Dominance Barking
This type of barking is often seen in dogs who have pushy personalities and get what they want without working for it. BARKING IS NOT THE PROBLEM. RUDE BEHAVIOR IS THE PROBLEM.

1. Does your dog challenge you by making direct eye contact in a dominant body posture?
2. Is his chest stuck out or his tail held out or stiffly wagging when interacting with you?
3. Does he growl at you when you want to move him from his spot?
4. If you answer yes to any of these questions, refer to the document on Leadership.

Territorial Barking
This type of barking is very normal. The barking usually happens when the dog is at home or perhaps in the surrounding neighborhood where you walk.

1. Use a head collar for better control of the dog when walking.
2. Discourage marking on walks.
3. Rotate walking routes so that the dog is less inclined to think of the route as his territory.
4. Give wonderful treats when on walks and distract him from barking at other people or dogs. Eventually, he should associate others with good treats instead of crossing his territory.
5. If the dog barks excessively in the house at outside noises or people walking by, keep the dog on a leash with you while in the house. This way you can manage the barking. When you cannot be home, put him in a crate away from noises he may hear outside until the problem barking is under control.
6. Some dogs may think they are the pack member who determines which visitors can come into his territory. If this is so, refer to document on Leadership.

Boredom Barking
This type of vocalization can include whining, howling, and barking. The dog is simply bored and is not getting enough physical and mental stimulation.

1. He needs physical exercise so that he is panting at least once day. Owners may underestimate how much exercise a dog needs.
2. Play games outside like fetch. Consider learning about agility training.
3. Mental stimulation includes learning obedience cues, hiding treats where the dog needs to use his nose to find them, learning tricks, and going new places.
4. Give a stuffed Kong toy to the dog when you leave for the day.
5. Find other puzzle toys that your dog may enjoy.
6. Hire or find someone who can exercise your dog.