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Barking

Barking in dogs is a normal behaviour. However, a wild environment it will be quite limited. Much of the time excessive barking occurs because doing so results in a reward . . . attention. However, part of the problem with barking is breed specific. Researching the characteristics of the breed of puppy you are thinking about getting can prevent choosing a "loud mouth" if you live in a "quiet zone". One specific suggestion that I will make is that acting very early and very consistantly will usually stop most puppies from getting into a cycle of barking. That said, I have to scream at my beagle ( "Beaglie" ) almost every night as he howls at the ground. Here's the advice of some of the "experts":


Why do dogs bark and what can be done?

Barking is natural dog behavior that serves as a territorial warning signal. Dogs also bark when separated from family members, for attention, or during times of frustration, anxiety, or indecision. Older dogs may vocalize because of medical problems, which must be ruled out. Socializing puppies to many new people, situations, places, noises, and objects will minimize the amount of alarm barking done during the dog's lifetime.

Barking should only be allowed in order to alert guardians, but then stopped before the dog becomes agitated. Therefore, guardian control is important and can be accomplished with a leash and a headcollar. Guardians often reinforce attention barking by giving in to the dog's demands and letting the dog back in the house or feeding it in order to quiet it. Barking should never be rewarded with any kind of attention. Training a dog to a "quiet" command is extremely useful in controlling barking. First teach the dog to "speak" on command by using a stimulus; remove the stimulus and say "quiet" just as the barking ceases; then, reward the quiet dog with a treat. Or using a headcollar, when the dog barks gently close his mouth with the headcollar while saying "quiet". When the dog is quiet, praise him and release, saying "good quiet".

Environments may need to be modified by confining the dog, crating him, or using privacy fences to keep a dog from seeing an outside stimulus. Stimuli such as doorbells and phone ringers may need to be silenced especially during retraining.

Increasing playtime and exercise in addition to gaining control over the dog through obedience and halter training will be necessary before implementing bark training. Using lure reward and distraction techniques, and halter/leash training, the dog may be trained to cease barking on command. Barking from fear, separation anxiety, and compulsive disorders require treatment of the underlying problem.

Punishment is seldom effective and may increase anxiety or provide further attention to the dog, thus increasing the behavior. Some examples of anti-bark training devices are disruption products used during training (ultrasonic devices, shaker cans, noise devices, water sprayers); remote, bark-activated products (off collar devices that are used in selected areas such as the front door - Super Barker Breaker™ and Yapper Zapper™); and bark-activated collars (Abiostop™, which emits a spray of citronella).

 

Other experts Opinions!

We put our dog in the fenced backyard several times a day for exercise and potty breaks. He is usually fine for the first few minutes, but then he barks and barks at the back door to be let back in. I think he needs to stay out for longer periods, but his incessant barking drives the neighbors to distraction. What can we do to keep him outside?

If you want to change the behavior, you must change the reward system. Ignore the dog when he barks. When he is quiet reward the behavior by letting him join you inside. This approach takes nerves of steel, and good relations with your neighbors. Alternately, if you anticipate when the dog will want to come in, you can call him, make him sit, and then open the door. Now calm, quiet behavior is rewarded with access to the household. Instead of putting your dog in the yard for exercise, perhaps a walk is in order. Walking is good exercise, mentally stimulating to the dog, and great bonding activity as well. Remote punishment will discourage barking misbehavior. With this method, you administer an unpleasant stimulus to coincide with barking; the punishment should be such that the dog fails to associate it with the person administering it. One method might be to position the water sprinkler toward the back door; when the barking begins, the water is turned on from a distant location. Ultrasonic bark collars also offer remote punishment. They emit an unpleasant, high-frequency sound that is inaudible to humans when the dog barks. Another type of bark collar emits citronella. Citronella is an unpleasant odor and its release when a bark occurs will discourage him. Bark devices only work when they are on the dog and are no substitute for good supervision. Always remember to reward quiet behavior so that the dog learns that this type of behavior gets attention.

Whining, Barking and Howling

Whining, barking and howling reflect a dog's emotional state. For example, a dog that is excited or startled may bark to express its agitation. It is important to bear in mind that your reaction to your dog's barking or whining will determine its behavior in the future.

Barking or Whining to Attract Attention
Your dog can learn to behave in ways that attract attention if you reward its behavior with attention. If your dog barks when it sees food and you then give it food, the dog will learn to bark for food. The dog may then learn to bark in a variety of situations, many of them inappropriate, for a reward. Reward (positive reinforcement) may take many forms, including food, praise or petting. Even in the form of punishment, negative attention is still attention. As with other forms of undesirable behavior, it is not enough to just say "no" when a dog barks excessively. Objectionable activity must be redirected immediately toward an acceptable alternative. The appropriate substitute is determined by the situation. Rather than giving food to a barking dog, for example, put it in a "sit/stay" position and wait for at least 10 seconds of quiet and calm before rewarding it with food. The delay is important so that the pet will associate good behavior, not barking, with the reward. Sometimes, the best way to deal with barking or whining is to simply ignore it. As difficult as this may be, keep in mind that you encourage barking by giving your dog any attention, positive (reward) or negative (punishment).

Barking During Isolation
A dog that is not accustomed to being alone may become anxious when isolated or separated from a playmate or human companion. This anxiety may be expressed by whining, barking and howling. The dog may bark or whine only in the first moments following separation, or may continue the entire period of isolation. Behavior modification, sometimes combined with sedation as necessary, is the best solution. Vocalization may precede other forms of separation anxiety, such as destructiveness, inappropriate elimination and excessive grooming.

Defensive Barking
Territorial defense is part of a dog's basic nature. Barking and growling serve to alert other pack or family members to danger. If your dog barks because it is startled by a noise outside and you immediately come to see what it was barking at, it will soon associate barking with reward and anticipate praise or attention the next time it barks. Barking may be desirable if you value a good watchdog; however, it may also escalate to excessive levels. A dog can overreact to the slightest sound or bark constantly for no apparent reason. This problem may be exaggerated in dogs that are not adequately exercised or that are ignored unless they make noise. Regular leash walks provide a dog with mental and physical stimulation so that it is calmer in general and less likely to seek objectionable activities. Exercise also allows the dog an opportunity for important social interaction, namely to patrol its territory with you. Remember also that when your dog barks excessively, it is not enough to just say "no." Command it to a "sit/stay" position, for example, to counteract uncontrolled excitement with a controlled alternative.

 

Larry Tilley's Recommended Info site (www.VetMedCenter.com)