How to stop your dog barking
Preventing dog barking within the home environment
Inappropriate dog barking is one of the most common issues for dog owners, often stemming from anxiety when your dog does not like being left alone within the home environment.
Whining, crying, or barking is exhibited by many dogs at low-level, while others may be more intense and constantly bark at such high levels that it is impossible to ignore. Such situations may further lead to destructive behaviour.
This type of high level behaviour is commonly attributed to separation anxiety or hyper attachment. But the behaviour is just the by-product and is not always the cause.
Preventive steps to stop dog barking
Look at it from your dog’s point of view; every time you leave they lose their source of comfort and company. They are often either put into a crate or an empty room which can be stressful for any dog.
Setting aside the fact that barking or signs of distress may lead to neighbour complaints, what you have to remember is dog barking will not be tolerated by today’s society. The issue of barking has to be approached from all aspects, so it does not matter if you are in the house or not your dog learns the barking is unwanted.
If your dog is exhibiting low-level behaviours like whining try leaving them loose in the house, making sure you leave something to entertain them like a Kong or safe toy. In many such cases that I have worked with the behaviour does not escalate further as the dog does not feel confined. Start by leaving your dog for short periods to see how they handle being home alone then gradually increase the time.
If you know your dog is high level and can be destructive, then the approach is different and you need to find out what is causing the stress and anxiety to try to eliminate it. This may require assistance from a suitably experienced behaviourist who can offer 121 behavioural training.
You want to get to the point where your dog no longer feels the need to bark constantly or be destructive and you can leave them home alone and unconfined safe in the knowledge that they will not become anxious or stressed.
Usually dogs that exhibit these high levels of stress and anxiety are under stimulated and bored. They are more likely to be destructive than those dogs whose needs are met every day.
Build up a positive association with being left alone, slowly counter condition your dog to enjoy being on their own. Remember though the first rule and most important part before you start any counter conditioning your dog needs to feel safe.
If you try too hard and move to quickly with this your dog will continue to exhibit stress and anxiety. It may take some time for your dog to build up a positive association with being left alone. But that time spent will create a good solid foundation for the future.