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Control Your Dog's Barking

Ah, the dreaded barking problem. If you've taken a stroll down a residential street any time recently, you've likely run into this very issue - a seemingly endless number of dogs that just won't stop barkming.

If your own dog fits the bill, it can be incredibly frustrating trying to figure out how to make it stop.
But, barking doesn't have to be just another thing "every dog does". Sure, barking is a natural activity that any healthy dog will do, and it's never going to cease completely.

But, it can get out of hand and there are some very specific things you can do to cut it down.

The Root of Barking

If you really want to control barking, you'd better know why your dog is barking. Different types and sources of barking require different solutions.

   1. Boredom - This is the most common source of barking and can be solved with some extra exercise or attention. 

   2. Anxiety - You need to teach your dog to handle your departure more calmly. This is a long process, but well worth it for the quiet and the health of your dog.

   3. Warning - A dog should always bark at strangers or threats, but only to a certain point.

   4. Attention Seeking - A dog in want of attention will bark at times. Never respond to this behaviour or you will only reinforce it.

   5. Startled - A dog that gets scared or startled may bark in confusion.

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   6. Playfulness - Playful dogs will bark at times to show their excitement. This is completely normal.

   7. Communicating - Dogs use barking to communicate with each other, saying "I'm here". This is normal, but should not be allowed to persist too long.

Obviously, some of these issues should not be changed. You don't want your dog thinking it's not okay to bark if they sense an intruder at the door. But, at the same time, you don't want them barking for an hour when the neighbour comes home each day. This is where good dog training practices plays an important role.

Stopping the Barking

Getting rid of a behaviour like excessive barking starts every time with basic control of your dog. You need to give your dog a strong alpha leader they can follow and no reasons to test your leadership. The best way to do this is to be consistent with your commands and to train them.

If you train your dog to come, lie down and stay, they will be very focused on completing those tasks and often times will stop barking completely. Additionally, you're going to want to give your dog as much exercise as possible. Exercise can make a tremendous difference as well.

In fact, most dogs that are bored or underexercised will just bark to bark. It may not even make sense. And because we don't make the connection ourselves, it can be hard to reverse the trend.

In terms of what not to do, avoid using the "No" word. Yelling at your dog will usually make it worse. The dog either doesn't understand and barks in frustration or will think you're barking along with it and get even louder.

Additionally, avoid punishment or rewarding of bad behaviour. You should instead only reward good behaviour. If you give your dog a "stop" phrase and they use it when you tell them to stop barking, reward them with a treat.

Finally, never give your dog loving attention when they bark. They will start to believe that they were right in barking at whatever they barked at - only furthering their anxiety or nervousness that bred the behaviour.

If you do it right, it can be easy to overturn a strongly instilled desire to bark. Just be consistent and take control of your home and you can stop dog barking problems.

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