Barking is normal, but endless barking is not. Dogs bark for various reasons, and their body language is often a reliable indicator of their intent. Left outside, they may want to communicate with other dogs in the neighborhood, announce their territory, or try to ward off a real or perceived threat. Indoors, your dog might be bored or displaying regular behavior for a rambunctious and inexperienced puppy.
Whatever the cause, the incessant barking will set you on edge if you're working from home and turn even the friendliest neighbor crotchety. Ceaseless barking could even mean that you're violating local noise codes. Luckily, some initiative on your part can help your canine bestie put a lid on excessive noisiness, whether they're a small Shih Tzu prone to yelping and yapping or a bigger German Shepherd.
Dogs don't bark for the sake of it. When they open their mouths and go ham, they're trying to express their needs, not deliberately annoy you or wear you down. Barking is more sophisticated than you might assume, too. Pitch, frequency, and pauses all convey meaning, even if said meaning resists neat categories. The more you get to know your puppy, the better you'll get at understanding what's motivating their emotional barks.
When a dog is trying to alert you to something it finds startling, it may bark rapidly two to four times before pausing and repeating the pattern. Look out for rigid body language. A dog inside your home will often stop barking if you block off the outdoor external stimulus by closing the curtains or playing some music. If you yell in response, the dog may feel that you're talking to it and that making loud noises is the right thing to be doing. Try acknowledging the alert by looking out the window, turning to your dog, and saying, 'good job.'
Lonely dogs use a long pattern with two or three woofs and distinct pauses. You might also hear this when your dog is outside and wants in. Separation anxiety may be an issue. Look into getting a dog-sitter or taking your pup to doggy daycare if it doesn't deal well with social distancing or change and starts pacing, wrecking your furniture, or having potty accidents.
When a dog wants to play, it may stutter bark, place its front legs flat on the ground, and arch its back. Make sure to walk your dog before you leave for work so they can get rid of any restless energy. Buy puzzles, toys, bully sticks, and stuffed Kongs, and keep them in a crate or room, so your dog has something interesting to do while you're away, especially if you don't have other animals to keep it company. Without enrichment, the odds are that your dog will start acting a bit wild or exhibit behavioral problems.
If your dog barks a lot while on walks, ensure they're comfortable while exploring. A harness is a kinder option than an anti-bark prong collar. Then, give click-reward training a bash. Once your dog is accustomed to the clicker and can sit and stay for a treat, use the clicker to draw its attention and present it with a reward for sitting and hushing. And make a point to feed it after its workout, not before.
Once you've established rules, stick with them. Certain behaviors should be met with specific responses, and those responses need to be the same from every member of your household. For example, if your puppy won't stop barking, everyone should know to turn and leave the room. The puppy will learn to be quiet if it wants treats and playmates. Without consistent application, training will take longer and be less effective.
Teach your dog bark and hush commands. And prepare a puppy for ringing doorbells and visitors by staging visits. Have someone unfamiliar pop by and shower the puppy with treats. Co-opt your mailman if you have to. This gets them used to strange faces and facilitates positive associations rather than fear-based ones.
These days, there are more humane options than pinch collars. Try citronella or tone collars that keep boredom at bay. These accessories use scents and sounds to reinforce undesirable and optimal behaviors, and some come with remote controls for added functionality. Other tools include white noise machines to block out stressful bark-inducing noises and pheromone products for anxiety. The radio or YouTube on a low volume can also show dogs what the wider world holds in a low-stress environment.
Rather than giving an adopted dog back to a shelter or disciplining it in a way it doesn't understand, take it for formal training. Dogs can unlearn reactive behaviors such as lunging, growling, or aggressive barking. You can transform your dog's conduct through praise and incentives for good behavior. Be conscious of your tone and body language. It might take a while, but your patience will be met with unconditional love and a loyal friend.
An injured dog or one with a medical condition will let the entire household know they're in pain. So, if your fur baby is barking strangely and the usual fixes aren't solving the problem, you might want to check their limbs for signs of injury and take them to a vet who can diagnose any underlying issues.
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