How do you stop your dog from barking? This article is specifically for pet owners that must leave their pets alone for long periods of time. Bored and under-stimulated canines can develop a barking problem.
Even pets that are left outside can engage in barking as a way to pass their time. Dogs are very active animals that needs both physical and mental stimulation. Some working dog breeds need more enrichment that others too.
The two most common way to entertain a bored dog are to let him out in the yard and buy the dog tons of toys. Unfortunately, without some interaction and training, doing the above won’t be enough.
Dogs need to be motivated to run or play with toys, they won’t do it on their own for a long period of time. They will however, bark incessantly. You must actively teach them how to play with their toys.
What do you need to stop your dog from barking?
You need to be understanding. When dogs are left alone in a confined environment they get stressed. These hounds will develop certain repetitive behaviors. Barking, chewing, licking and digging are all types of repetitive behaviors that dogs do to pass the time. Your pet keeps doing these behaviors because he enjoys them, they are naturally rewarding.
Physiologically, a repetitive behavior will release certain hormones to cope with the stress of being alone with very little mental stimulation. Because these behaviors are rewarding to the dog, just waiting for them to go away will have no effect. You must do something proactively to help your canine friend.
Never punish repetitive behaviors (avoid electronic collars and anti-bark collars). This animal is under a lot of stress and punishment will take away the only thing he had to survive while under stress. Behavior problems can escalate or, worse, your pet could start getting seriously ill.
What is the solution? Provide plenty of exercise, stress relief and mental stimulation to your dog. This will take care of the problem! Following are 4 basic ideas to stop your dog from barking. Pick the ones that better suit your lifestyle.
You might also benefit from this article outlining common mistakes you should avoid when trying to stop your dog from barking.
How to provide physical and mental stimulation?
Imagine if you had to stay in one location day after day with nothing to do, wouldn’t you go crazy too?
When a dog is stressed and frustrated out of boredom there is no “training” method you have to implement. Instead you need to enrich your pet’s life. However, you must teach your dog how to play with toys or what to do in the yard instead of barking. This may require a bit of training.
You don’t have to do it all at once, or everything every day. Start with the activities that better fit your schedule and slowly grow the list. You will start seeing amazing changes in you furry best friend!
1- Stop your dog from barking with exercise
Depending on the breed, your dog will need from 1-4 hours of exercise daily!
For example, English and French bulldogs, pugs and boston terriers can’t be doing prolonged aerobic exercise because of their facial features that impede efficient respiration. On the other hand, sporting breeds, like pointers and retrievers will need longer periods of exercise.
Never push your hound to do more than what he can!
Too much exercise and play time with other canines can also cause stress, find the balance.
2- Stop your dog from barking with environmental enrichment
Whether you leave your pooch inside or outside, think about adding a few features to the environment to improve your pet’s time alone.
- Add a dog perch inside or outside for your hound to get a different perspective of the world. You can also put it near a window if your pet is not too excitable (you don’t want this if your dog will bark at every passing person or dog!).
- Create a special space for your pet, a crate with his blanket and toys is a good idea. Make sure this space is sacred and nothing stressful ever goes in there.
- Leave music created to comfort your pet. Three experts (psychoacoustic researcher, pianist and veterinarian) got together to create this unique musical composition for dogs, it is specially design to calm our canine friends.
Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion, Volume 1
- If you have a yard think about giving your pet a digging area and a wading pool on the summer. You can also have ropes and old tires for your pet to play with.
- Use dog appeasing pheromone (DAP). This is a synthetic hormone that will help your pet relax. It is safe for humans and all you have to do is plug it on the wall!
3- Stop your dog from barking by spending quality time together
Your dog is part of the family and as such needs time with you for bonding and relaxing. Sometimes, to stop your dog from barking, you need to help him relax, you need to teach your dog how to relax.
- Take your pet with your while you do some errands. This will not only provide more time together but also many entertaining experiences.
- Invite friends with their dogs to your place, you can have a movie night or a barbecue outside while the dogs play.
- Train your dog! You can spend 10 minutes per day to train your pet obedience and tricks. Here is a list of commands and how to train them. I recommend you start with “Quiet” on command!
- You can learn how to massage your dog to help him relax. Do it while you watch a movie!
4- Stop your dog from barking by providing mental stimulation
There are several cool puzzle toys and boredom busters designed to make your dog think and will help stop your dog from barking. These are great for hounds that are alone a lot. You can also create games with your pets regular meals and motivate the forager in your canine friend.
- Food dispensers to think: they give your pet his regular meal with a twist! He has to figure out how to get it out. This food bowls have flaps and lids to hide the food and your dog needs to figure out how to find them.
- Toys to fill with food like Kong toys or the buster food cube. These are design to hide treats and your pet has to move the toy around to make the treats fall out.
- Use rubber, squeaky, rope and plush toys but rotate them weekly. This will keep your pet interested in them! Make sure you check for their safety before leaving your pet alone with them.
- Treasure hunt! Instead of giving your pooch his food in a bowl every morning hide it around the house or just toss it in the kitchen floor. It sounds messy, but dogs are foragers and this is a great activity that can keep your pet entertained for a while. You can also hide specially yummy treats for an extra surprise.
Share the ideas to stop your dog from barking that have worked best with you and your hound! Just leave your comments in the box below.