Ok, you’ve had it. Your otherwise adorable canine companion has developed a bad habit. Frankie has become an incessant barker. He barks when he wants to go out. He barks at birds. He barks at passersby, he barks at cats that walk on your fence. He barks at falling leaves, and so on, and so on…
The barking is annoying, and Frankie is getting a reputation. You next door neighbor complains that her baby can’t sleep during the day. Your postman nearly fell when he tried to deliver mail to your dog—Frankie scared the dickens out of him. Unfortunately, this habit is getting worse. Dogs like to bark; it’s fun. But unless the barking is addressed, you may end up with animal control at your door.
What can you do?
Most people try to stop the dog from barking when they’re home to hear it. Some dogs respond to verbal corrections, but most do not. They view their owners’ screams as reinforcements. They think their owners are barking back and joining the party. Although good intentioned, many owners make the problem worse.
A better idea is to bring ‘em in. If your dog spends hours a day in the backyard, he or she will look for ways to entertain him or herself. Chasing leaves, digging holes, and barking at everything top the list. Bringing the dog indoors can cut down on the barking; however, some will substitute barking at the television or watching out the front window until a bark-worthy person walks by the door. You can make a correction, but make sure it is immediate and unwanted (no barking back).
About bark collars
Owners can’t sit their dogs down and explain that the barking causes problems. Instead, they must communicate by delivering a correction at the time of the offense. The big advantage of bark collars is that they deliver a correction at the very moment a dog barks. The method of correction can be a mild electric shock, or the collar can spray a dose of citronella liquid to the face. Both methods are unpleasant, and the dog will learn to associate the punishments with barking, causing the dog to quit.
Although bark collars work well in most situations, there are some cautions that owners should consider:
- The collars will respond to all barking, so this can cause confusion in multi-dog households. The collar on one dog may go off when a nearby dog barks—thereby punishing the wrong dog. In these cases, the collared dog may be confused and learn to avoid other dogs.
- Citronella bark collars run out of liquid over time. Owners must be sure to keep them filled.
- Most shock collars can be adjusted. Too little “juice” can have no effect, while too much can make a dog neurotic. Owners must establish the right “dosage” for their dogs. A consultation with a dog trainer or veterinarian can help; however, not all pet professionals have the same attitude about punishment. Make sure you find someone who is sensitive to the dogs’ overall behavioral health.
Complaints from neighbors about barking dogs are one of the most common reasons for dogs losing their homes, so correcting the behavior is very serious. Address this problem quickly, and get professional help as well. Ask your veterinarian for bark-control options to create a peaceful home environment for you and your neighbors.
If you’re hesitant to try a bark collar on your pup, don’t worry. It’s not the only way to train Fido to pipe down! Read our article on “4 Ways to Stop Unwanted Barking” for tips on quieting your talkative pooch.