Barking is normal K9 behavior, and it is reasonable for dogs to bark from time to time. Excessive barking, however, can result in neighborhood disputes and code violations. Continual barking over long periods of time is a sign that your dog has a problem that needs to be addressed. If your dog's barking has created neighborhood tension, it might be a good idea to discuss the problem with your neighbors.
Why do dogs bark?
The first step toward controlling this behavior is to determine why your dog is barking. Your dog may be:
- Bored or lonely
- Guarding his territory
- Experiencing separation anxiety
What can be done to control barking?
While great additions to a family, a dog can also be a companion and added security. It is not inappropriate for your dog to bark when the doorbell rings or there are people outside you home. This is commonly called “provoked barking.” Excessive barking can be a behavior problem that should be addressed. If your dog has not been to obedience classes, take him. Your dog will not only enjoy the activity, it can help you learn to deal with barking and other disobedient behaviors.
If your dog is bored or lonely, such as barking to get your attention, expand his "people time" by keeping him indoors, exercising him regularly, and providing interesting toys. Grooming is another great way to make sure you dogs get enough attention. If your dog is guarding his territory, such as barking at "intruders," teach your dog a "quiet" command. Let him know he's done his job, then tell him, "It's alright, Spot." Obedience classes may help with this training. Having your dog neutered or spayed will help to decrease territorial behavior, and may minimize barking.
If your dog is afraid, desensitize him to what is frightening. A dog trainer and obedience classes may be able to help you with this as well.
If your dog has separation anxiety, such as barking as soon as you leave its presence, desensitization techniques can also be used. An example of this training would be, put him in a room with the door closed, when he begins barking, tell him "No," and give a "Quiet" command. Your pet will soon learn that separation is ok.
Many pet stores offer training devices such as bark collars that can be used for short periods of time to correct a behavior. There are a couple types of corrective collars, including ones that use a citronella smell. Rancho Cordova residents can contact the Sacramento SPCA for additional information on behavioral training. Visit the Sacramento SPCA website here.