Ten thousand years ago, the wolf ancestors of modern dogs roamed
wild and free. But soon, these clever and adaptable animals found an
advantage in associating with humans. Thus, an unspoken bargain was
formed: food, water, and shelter, in exchange for companionship.
Eventually man learned to exaggerate the natural instincts and
talents of the wolf through selective breeding. Dogs evolved into
separate breeds used by man for different useful tasks, such as
herding livestock, hunting wild game and even fighting crime. But
even though man was able to exaggerate certain instincts and
abilities, we have not been able to eliminate certain unwanted traits
such as continuous barking.
The problem comes from the fact that dogs were bred to work! Many
modern dogs are bored because they have no outlet for the mental and
physical energy for which they were bred. As a consequence of this
boredom, modern dogs have developed behavioral problems. Often this
behavior is exhibited through barking. This is sometimes useful
behavior, such as when chasing off a prowler. Other times it can be
bothersome and inconvenient. And let's not forget the legal
ramifications. In many communities, a barking dog can mean fines and
even time in court!
So now that you know barking is a problem, how do you correct the
problem? If you shout at the dog, the dog will simply assume you are
barking too, and continue its tirade. After all, the dog doesn't
understand English any better than you understand doggish! Some dogs
may start to bark for no other reason than to attract the attention
of their owners. Which is why some dogs will bark when their owners
have left home. They are attempting to call them back. When the owner
eventually does come home, the dog thinks that its barking ploy has
So we can imagine one way to deter barking would be to ignore the
dog. Eventually you can hope that the dog will become tired of
barking after not getting the attention it wants. Another way to keep
your dog from barking at night or while you're away, is to play with
it before hand. Hopefully this will expend that playful energy,
calming and quieting the dog.
It is important to understand why dogs bark. Dogs bark to
tell you they need or want something, and these needs can be various
things. For Example:
- They may want to go outside or come in.
- They may be hungry.
- Or, maybe they just want you to play.
- Dogs get bored, frustrated, anxious or excited and will use
barking to let you know how they feel.
Some dogs were bred to bark for a specific purpose, such as
hounds, guard dogs or some herding breeds.
Expecting a dog not to bark is unrealistic. Make sure your
expectations are reasonable since some breed’s inherent need to bark
can be much greater than others.
Here are some helpful tips on what to look for and how to handle
- Dogs that are left outdoors tend to have more barking problems
and require more personal contact and socialization. It takes some
special effort on your part to care for their needs.
- For dogs that are both inside and outside, increase your play
and exercise time. An exercised dog will be more relaxed and will
spend additional time resting.
- Take your dog out on errands. Even a quick car ride offers the
stimulation of a new world of smells and sights and will give your
dog a mental workout.
- Be careful not to unwittingly reward barking behavior by
yelling, which may work temporarily but in reality is increasing
the barking behavior.
Ignoring the barking and then rewarding your dog with play, praise
and food, is frequently more effective than yelling and the results
will last much longer. Unfortunately, this method requires a cast
iron will, a good set of ear plugs and understanding.
Know your dog’s barking cues and avoid them. For example; bring
your dog inside or close the blinds when your children are getting
off the school bus. Take your dog to the back of the house when the
mailman arrives. Just a little extra effort and love can go a long
way in reducing your dog's barking.