How to stop your dog going barking mad
We all know that barking is one of the main forms of communication for our puppers, but when the anonymous notes start pouring into your letterbox, you know it’s time to tackle the noise issue.
Why is your dog barking?
Barking is completely normal for all dogs, however some breeds are more vocal than others. It can be a response to other people and animals, being territorial, or being stimulated by noise, and sometimes it can become excessive.
Problem barking can be caused by many things, and to find a solution you’ll need to dig deep into the reason your dog is being so outspoken. Some of the common issues are:
- Fear – your pupper reacts to the loud vacuum or has taken a deep dislike to next door’s cat.
- Separation anxiety – being left home alone or even in another room can set your furry friend off into a barking frenzy.
- Territorial behaviour – the knock at your door sends your placid pooch into a yapping nightmare.
- Boredom – too much time on their hands (ahem, paws!) and even the best behaved pupper can resort to calling out.
- Pain – is a recent accident or illness making your dog howl in pain?
- Attention seeking – if they can’t get your attention, they’ll bark until you start playing with them.
How can you help your barking dog?
A barking pupper can range from annoying to downright distressing, and is one of the most common reasons for noise complaints to councils. Once you’ve worked out what is triggering your pup you can try to fix the problem.
If fear is at the heart of your pupper’s problem barking, try to desensitise them to the stimulus. Switch the blender on for a short period, get the vacuum out for a couple of minutes and gradually expose your pup to their trigger. You’ll need to work slowly to manage your dog’s fear and use plenty of positive reinforcement.
If you see any early signs of stress, you may need to slow things down and consult with your vet.
- Managing anxiety
Check with your neighbours to see if your dog is barking excessively while you are away. You could even set up a pup cam to see what’s going on and work out if there are any times of day that are worse for your dog – some cameras even throw treats to help keep your pup calm and happy!
When you establish that separation is your pupper’s cue for barking, you’ll need a sensitive plan to deal with this very real anxiety. It’s best to talk to your vet to work out a strategy for alone time.
Consider doggy daycare, a pet sitter, or a dog walker for those times when you can’t be home and your pupper is adjusting to being without you.
- Rewarding the right behaviours
You’ll need to use your best poker face when standing up to your very cute attention-seeking dog. As much as it’s difficult, ignore them for as long as possible and reward them as soon as they stop barking. Quiet equals a delicious reward.
Lengthen the amount of time that they must remain quiet before getting a treat so that they learn to be quiet for a longer period.
- Managing boredom
Make sure you have plenty of activities on hand so that boredom is not an issue. This could range from puzzle toys to putting their favourite Lyka recipe in a slow feeding bowl or on an interactive mat. Five minutes of obedience training can work wonders to ease boredom.
If lack of exercise is a problem, try making their daily walk a little bit more challenging. A tired satisfied pupper is less likely to be a vocal pupper.
You can distract territorial barkers from their perceived threat. Perhaps it’s the postie knocking? Make sure you have a favourite toy at the door. You can also train your dog to go to a comfortable spot and stay there when somebody comes to your house.
Anything that we don’t recommend?
- Anti-barking collars
Anti-barking collars give off an ultrasonic noise when a dog barks. They may seem like the perfect quick fix but are not usually effective. They are not designed to stay on for long and our clever pets quickly learn to start barking as soon as the collar is off.
- Surgical debarking
Surgery is available to remove some of your dog’s vocal chords to soften their bark. This is very distressing for your pet and is even illegal in many parts of Europe and the USA.
- Shouting at your dog
Punishments have no place in solving behavioural problems like excessive barking. Whilst barking can be extremely frustrating, keeping your cool is the best way to quickly solve the problem.
Where can you get more help?
Don’t despair if you can’t manage the barking by yourself; many of us don’t seek help until a behaviour in our pet is well ingrained and more difficult to fix. But there are plenty of other resources you can turn to.
- Your vet
It’s time to visit your vet if you’ve tried everything and it’s not working or you think that the barking is caused by illness or separation anxiety.
Give your vet as much information as you can about triggers or patterns that you’ve noticed. They may refer you to a behaviourist if needed.
- A holistic vet
Alternative medicine is not only for humans. Many have great success with their pupper’s behaviour and general well-being after seeing a holistic vet.
Holistic vets can look for solutions through nutrition, medicinal cannabis, gut-brain axis issues, supplements and herbal medicines, lessening the use of pharmaceutical medications.
- Diet investigation
We’ve had amazing feedback about the difference in mood and behaviour when customers have moved their pups onto a low glycaemic index (GI) diet.
Ever watched an out-of-control bunch of toddlers after devouring a high GI birthday cake? The same theory rings true for our furry friends.
Check out the Pure Animal Podcast series with our co-founder, Dr. Matthew Muir, for a fascinating lowdown on the links between your dog’s diet and their behaviour. It’s certainly food for thought.
Curious about how Lyka can help your pup?
Join the fresh dog food revolution – order a customised Starter Box today and experience the Lyka difference for yourself!