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Healthy Dogs

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Why Dogs Bark and Curbing Excessive Barking

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How to Treat Excessive Barking continued...

Here are two methods:

When your dog is barking, say “Quiet” in a calm, firm voice. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise him and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking. Eventually he will figure out that if he stops barking at the word “quiet” he gets a treat (and make it a high level treat, such as cheese or chicken bits to make it worth more than the barking.)

Alternatively, you can teach your dog to “speak”, then once he’s doing that reliably, signal him to stop barking with a different command, such as “quiet”, while holding your finger to your lips (dogs often pick up body signals faster than voice commands.) Practice these commands when he’s calm, and in time he should learn to stop barking at your command, even when he wants to bark at something.

  • A tired dog is a quiet dog. If your dog barks when alone, tire him out before you go. Take a long walk or run, play ball or take a trip to the dog park before leaving.
  • Don’t allow problems to go on and on. The longer a dog does something, the more ingrained it becomes. Barking can give dogs an adrenaline rush, which makes the barking pleasant. And allowing a dog to bark in certain situations, such as when the mailman arrives, can eventually make a dog aggressive in those situations. What if your dog gets out one day as the mail is being delivered? Deal with barking problems as quickly as possible.
  • Some medical problems can cause excessive barking, from bee stings to brain disease to ongoing pain. Older pets can develop a form of canine senility that causes excessive vocalizations. It’s always a good idea to have a pet checked by a veterinarian to be sure there’s no medical reason for a problem.

Once you know why your dog is barking, you can start working on ways to decrease his annoying habit. Here are some specific reasons why dogs bark, and how you can help lessen the noise:

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