As a dog owner, you’ve almost certainly been kept up at night by your so-called best friend barking for what seemed like hours. And try as you might, nothing you say or do seems to bring them whatever comfort they’re looking for. Just like any dog lover, you’re going to be concerned about what’s bringing this on. And frankly, you probably also wouldn’t mind a solid night’s sleep, right? So what can be done about these frustratingly vocal behaviors? What are the motivators bringing all of this noise on? Are there ways to curb this behavior? Should you be worried? Below are some popular ideas on this often seen dilemma.
The Root of the Behavior
Territory is an often seen motivation behind excessive barking and howling. This tends to usually be in response to strange new people, or sometimes wild animals invading what your dog perceives to be its territory. Your dog could also be trying to greet you with his barking. This is a great exercise to help you read your dog's body language. Is his tail wagging? Is his stance relaxed and non-threatening? Chances are he's just trying to tell you hello after a long day at the office. Compulsive barking tends to be a different sort of sound altogether. You may notice that your dog's voice is getting somewhat hoarse, yet he continues barking regardless. Nothing in the area seems to be setting him off, and physically he seems fine. Unfortunately, dogs are just as prone to stress as humans, and one of the ways in which this problem can externalize is in non-stop periods of barking. Again, watch their physical condition as well here. A stressed out dog suffering from compulsions will likely walk aimlessly from room to room, seemingly oblivious to people and events. Dogs can also just get plain angry. If your dog likes to shout himself sick when he is in a crate for the evening, then you have witnessed this motivation in action. Unfortunately, if the actions that induce this type of barking are necessary, it is a game of patience between you and your dog. Another thing to consider is what specifically is causing the noisy barking behavior. Is there a common theme, like a particular person or a specific event that always provokes this? It's important to show your dog that this person or event is completely under your control. You can use your body language to great effect in cases like this to create a calming energy. Creating boundaries that are implied rather than seen is a crucial part of training your canine correctly.
Encouraging the Behavior
So, what are some ways to stop this invasive barking behavior? Try using a sharp sound, a stern glare, or some sort of negative physical feedback. Just remember that this behavior is not enough on its own. Your canine companion is almost sure to continue barking after a few moments. You enabled him to relax physically, but mentally your dog still has a lot of raging emotions. With some patience and a little luck, your dog will eventually give up his attempted dominant stance, and accept the instructions you are giving him. It's very much possible that your dog is barking because he is desperate for some exercise as well. If you don't walk with your dog on a daily basis, now is the best time to start. If he already loves to walk regularly, trying running with him as a great way to keep you both in tip top shape. In addition to this, there are plenty of dog workshops available through your local veterinarian that can help you understand how to keep your dog regularly active, as well as nutritional counseling. Remember, this is supposed to be fun for the pair of you! The more you interact and find mutually agreeable activities, the better.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Training tends to be both the simplest and most effective solution to curbing your dog’s constant bark. Many canine behaviorists swear by these tried and true methods. But most important to this recipe is consistency. Your dog will periodically challenge you, it is just in his nature. But when confronted by this sort of posturing, your only good option as his owner is to reassert your own desires using the tools given to you by trainers and behaviorists. In addition to training programs, there is plenty of literature out there outlining many different methods and perspectives on how to best execute a training program.
Barking is always going to be a part of your dogs repertoire, there’s just no way around it. And in a lot of social situations for your dog, it’s a perfectly normal and healthy behavior. If barking is a problem, you can always look into training programs. If it becomes truly excessive, it may be time for your dog to be evaluated for possibly unhealthy levels of stress. But if he likes to sing and neither you or your dog is perturbed by it, let him sing. He might just make it onto TV someday!