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Why Does My Dog Bark and How Do I Stop It?

It’s one of the most frequent calls we receive at Bark Busters. Dogs bark for a number of reasons. Some are easier to fix than others but all types of barking can be stopped with appropriate training.

Nuisance/Reactivity Barking

When your dog barks at almost any noise or distraction inside or outside, it can be stressful for you and believe it or not, for your dog! If your dog is barking at every possible sound or movement, he is probably on edge all the time. All dogs have a need to feel safe and for a dog, that feeling comes from their pack leader who embodies safety and security. When a dog feels that they have a strong pack leader, they don’t feel the need to patrol and sound the alarm for every movement they see or sound they hear.

Most domesticated dogs are naturally middle to low pack animals with natural dispositions that are well suited to being led (subordinate) and poorly suited to leading. Dogs that are natural leaders (Alphas) tend to be difficult pets as they are aloof, don’t care too much about affection, are aggressive and prefer to give vs. take commands. Because these are not generally desirable traits in a house pet, we have through selective breeding, suppressed the alpha characteristics to the point that there are very few dogs that are truly alpha-like in natural demeanor. When an Alpha senses a potential threat, he will remain calm yet alert. Chances are, when your dog senses a threat, he is anything but calm. He likely barks and makes a scene. This is because he is not a natural leader and is trying to take on the role as best he can. Unfortunately, his version of leadership doesn’t fit well into the dog-human pack environment.

If your dog is reactive to movement, sounds, or just about anything, and is barking all the time, its time to help him feel safe and secure by stepping into the pack leader role. He can then feel comfortable deferring to you when he is concerned instead of taking on the role of patrol and protect. Bark Busters uses a series of training exercises to help shift the social structure in your “pack” to allow your dog to see you as the embodiment of safety and security in his life. Once you accomplish this, your dog will be calmer, happier and MUCH quieter!

Fear-Based Barking

If your dog barks whenever he sees another dog and/or another person, he is probably reacting out of fear and not out of aggression. This type of barking can seem pretty aggressive but in almost every instance, it’s your dog trying to put on a show because he is afraid for himself and/or for you. Just as with reactivity based barking, the solution is to help your dog understand that the safest place in the world is by your side. Once he feels this way, instead of reacting to the other dog or person, your dog will take his cues from you. If you are calm, he will be calm. If your demeanor tells him there is no risk, he will assume you as the leader are right and will not bark or react. It’s critical for this type of barking that you work on leadership in your home prior to going outside to test your new role. Once you have positive control inside, your dog will be able to remain calm at your side outside. Bark Busters can help you transform your dog’s fear-based barking behavior in just a few hours.

Associative Barking

In some cases, dogs only bark at very specific things. The trigger for the barking could be a place, a sound, a person, another dog or just about anything. For instance, we worked on a case last year where the dog would bark whenever the husband came into the room but was quiet at all other times. Needless to say, this was stressful for the dog’s family. With this case and with most associative barking cases, the dog has likely had an experience that has caused them to have a negative association with the trigger (could have been that a man had abused him before our client rescued him). In cases like this, we need to help the dog feel safe and secure as with other types of barking. If providing the dog with a well-defined social structure in which the owner is the embodiment of safety and security doesn’t fully resolve the behavior, we will also follow a re-association protocol. In the above case, we resolved the barking by changing the dogs association with seeing the husband. We used a combination of high-value food and activities that would occur immediately upon the dog seeing the husband. Within a week, when the dog saw the husband, instead of barking, he was completely focused on looking for cheese and playing a game.

Separation Anxiety

If your dog barks like crazy whenever you leave, he is suffering from separation anxiety. The cause of separation anxiety is often not what you might think. Yes, your dog misses you and loves you but that is normally not the problem. Your dog probably feels responsible for your safety and is freaking out because he can’t keep an eye on you. He is desperately trying to get you to come back so that he can do his job keeping you safe. Imagine you are responsible for a 3 year old and the toddler walks out the front door and closes it behind him/her and you can’t follow. You would be panicked immediately and the feeling would intensify over time until the toddler was back in your sight/control. That is what your dog is going through with separation anxiety causing him to bark and howl when you leave. It’s a powerful emotion that requires careful training. Fortunately, Bark Busters’ system will quickly help your dog to understand that you can take care of yourself and that there is no reason for him to elevate or freak out when you leave. Even the most severe separation anxiety cases tend to show immediate improvement with the Bark Busters training system.

Regardless of why your dog is barking, there is a solution and Bark Busters can help. Give us a call and find out how easy it is to have a quiet and peaceful home. Any age, any breed, any issue, guaranteed!

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