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The Bark Side: How to Stop Incessant Barking


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The reality of the matter is that dogs bark. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons such as separation anxiety, attention or boredom, but as a general note, dog owners should understand that occasional barking is not only normal and to be expected, it’s the only way canines know how to communicate vocally. Similar to a newborn baby who cries for anything and everything he wants, puppies can do the same, especially prior to being trained.

However, there are certain dogs who are prone to excessive barking throughout the day and night, which can be annoying, disruptive and frustrating for not only pup parents, but also neighbors and guests. This type of continuous barking should not be ignored, as it can develop into a bad habit which only worsens over time.

Training a dog to curb barking can be a difficult task, but with consistency, practice and patience, you will definitely see progress. By following the following do’s and don’ts, you’ll be steps closer to keeping your dog quiet and getting the barking under control.

1. Do make sure to exercise your dog frequently. A tired dog is a quiet dog. Oftentimes, dogs bark out of boredom or loneliness. To combat these common causes, offer up regular activities and playtime for your dog – a game of fetch, a trip to the dog park, a walk around the block, or if needed, an investment in agility training or cage-free doggie daycare, are all options to keep your dog active and busy. If your dog is alone for long stretches of the day, provide toys or long-lasting chew bones to keep his attention span focused.

2. Do teach your dog the command, “Quiet!” When your dog is barking, say “Quiet,” in a firm, yet calm voice. Once he stops barking, even if it’s just to pause, praise and reward him with a treat. Just be very careful not to give treats while he’s barking. It’s imperative that he associates good behavior with a reward, and that bad behavior is ignored. You can pair “Quiet” with holding a finger to your lips mimicking the “shhh” sound, as some dogs pick up sign language faster than vocal commands. Above all else, it is important not to yell or scream at your dog in anger. Besides being an unhealthy way to reprimand, shouting is counter-productive as it simulates the barking noise and many dogs will think you’re just joining in with them, rather than scolding them.

3. Do bring a barking outdoor dog indoors. For somewhat obvious reasons, dogs that bark all night should be brought inside the house. A dog barking outside in the yard can easily bother the neighbors and potentially rile up other dogs in the vicinity. When a dog is brought inside a quiet, peaceful, comfortable home with his family members, he will quickly learn to settle down and sleep. Plus, a dog sleeping close by is added protection and security for the family!

4. Do remove barking triggers from your dog’s living environment. If you notice that your dog barks out of alarm or fear, and at particular objects or environmental factors, adjust or remove those triggers. For example, if your dog continues to bark at other animals or people through a fence, consider switching to an enclosure without slats. If your dog barks whenever your doorbell rings, you may want to ask guests to knock on the door instead.

While it’s unreasonable to change life dramatically to accommodate barking, there is nothing wrong with making minor adjustments that pose little inconvenience, if they’ll bring you some peace and quiet.

5. Don’t allow the problem to continue. The longer bad behavior goes on and on, the more ingrained the conduct can become in the dog’s personality. Barking can be a pleasant form of release for dogs who bark to seek attention, communicate anxiety or fear, or even to express a desire to play. If at home training is proving ineffective, take your dog to a behavioral specialist who specializes in barking issues. Nip the problem in the bud, before it’s too late.

6. Don’t give up when your training method isn’t working. Because barking occurs for a multitude of reasons, it’s important to address the issue even when at-home or professional training methods fail. There is the rare potential that your dog is barking for a medical reason that needs veterinary attention. A health issue as minor as pain from a bee sting to something as serious as brain disease can cause excessive barking. So, if you’re ever at a complete loss, it doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence and get a thorough checkup for Fido.

7. Don’t use a shock collar, muzzle or “debark” your dog! Shock collars, which deliver painful currents to jolt your pet whenever he barks, cause harm and can make dogs aggressive if they begin to associate the person, dog or object they’re barking at with pain. Similarly, a muzzle, which is used as a means of constraint to keep a dog quiet, is a dangerous device, especially if used when the dog is unsupervised. Debarking, which is often considered an inhumane and antiquated procedure, is a surgery designed to leave dogs with a raspy bark, instead of a full bark. Complications are common and “debarking” can be life threatening. Other “bark prevention tools” such as water sprayers or noise makers to deter your dog from barking can reinforce traditional training, but should not be used as standalone training mechanisms. Rewarding your dog for good behavior is still the most effective and humane training method.

Training Your Dog for the Busy Holiday Season


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As the smells and sights of Christmastime fill the air this time of year, so do emotions of excitement and anticipation. While the holidays are a time of joy for many, the busy schedules leading up to them can leave people overcome with stress and anxiety, and unfortunately our dogs often pick up on these feelings as well. To prevent your restless pup from ravaging the house and misbehaving when guests come over for the holidays, it is important to start preventative training beforehand. Here’s a guide to keeping an energetic or anxious pup in check so the holidays stay cheerful for both humans and our four-legged friends.

Call a Professional

If your dog is still a puppy who likes to play by her own rules, it may be a good idea to enroll her in obedience classes. This may be an especially viable option for those who fear aggressive behaviors from their pooch, which may be triggered when new family or friends come into the picture. If you don’t see yourself being able to train your pup before the holidays, it may be time to call a professional.

Invest in a Crate

A crate can be a very helpful tool in containing an overactive puppy. As soon as you sense your pup getting antsy around guests, it’s time to take a proactive approach by pulling her away from the situation and placing her in a crate. Even if your dog isn’t the type to bite others, new, stressful situations such as a busy holiday get-together may spark behavior you’ve never seen in her before. This is why it pays to have a crate handy, especially for younger dogs whose behavior can be unpredictable. And if you start crate training prior to your event, your dog will be comfortable going in her crate when you ask her to.

Utilize the “Sit” Command
The “sit” command is probably one of the first things you’ll teach your dog to do, and it’s also the foundation of proper obedience. With the right training, this simple command will come in handy to control a jumpy dog who pounces on every guest who enters the door. Now, your guests might not mind if there’s a tiny fur ball scraping at their ankles, but if it’s a larger, more menacing-looking breed who’s practically leaping atop their laps, it may be a cause of concern. Teach your dog to sit when she approaches you, and reward the behavior so she does the same in front of guests. This command also works for when your little beggar comes out during mealtime. Combined with a firm “stay” or “down,” the command can be especially effective. Yet, if you still find your pup pestering your guests for food, then it’s time to break out the crate.

Praise Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is one of the fundamental techniques to encouraging desired behaviors from your dog. By rewarding her with treats and praise every time she behaves favorably, you can, in theory get your dog to do almost anything. Get your family involved, too! Invite willing guests to praise your dog for good behavior such as sitting and staying away. You can even give a small baggy of dog treats to each guest to use when your pup acts calmly around them. And finally, when you reward the positive, you, your furry best friend and everyone she meets will all benefit.

Key House Training Principles to Implement Day One


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Simply thinking about house training your puppy could have you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Take a deep breath and don’t fear! As long as you stay committed and consistent in whichever method you choose, the process doesn’t have to be difficult. It can even be fun! Remember, the goal is to instill positive habits in your pet while simultaneously building a loving bond. Understand and expect there to be a lot of setbacks and “mistakes.” Do your best to curb your frustration (it can take up to 6 months to a year to get your puppy fully house trained), get back on the horse and try again. Following these core training principles as soon as puppy comes home will set a healthy foundation for the rest of your training.

  1. Confine Puppy to Defined Space

Whether you decide to crate train or keep your puppy in a gated area, limiting his space is important during this crucial learning stage – not just to save your valuables from getting ruined, but also to teach puppy that he needs to go outside to do his business. Until he develops his “den instinct” i.e., not wanting to go soil his own living space, he’ll need boundaries. Once he starts to understand and make progress, gradually give him more freedom around the house.

  1. Take Puppy Out Frequently

thumbnail-puppy-developmentYou should take your puppy outside first thing in the morning and then once every 30 minutes to an hour. You should also take him out after every meal, when he wakes from a nap and before he goes to sleep. When in doubt, take him out!

  1. Stay Attached at the Hip

Consider “puppy sitting” your full time job for the next several months. Spotting and acknowledging your puppy’s signs that he needs to go are key to the process. Whining, circling, sniffing or barking are all clear signs that he needs to be taken out right away. And make sure that once he’s out, you watch puppy do his business each time to ensure he’s making progress.

  1. Stick to a Feeding Schedule

Feed your puppy according to your veterinarian and breeder’s recommendations and take away the food in between meals to prevent accidents and get puppy used to eating at consistent times. Remember, what goes in regularly, will come out regularly! Leave the water though. Puppy needs to stay hydrated. Just monitor how much he drinks so you know when to take him out.

  1. X Marks the Spot

Take puppy to the same spot each time he eliminates. He will start to associate his scent with the spot and it will encourage him to go.

  1. Give Praise and Reward

When puppy eliminates outside, praise verbally and give him a treat. Choose a simple word like “outside” or a key phrase such as “Go potty!” and use it every time you take puppy out. Repetition and consistency are key. Puppy will soon start to associate the word with the act. A nice walk is another great reward.

  1. Discipline Correctly

Accidents are completely normal and punishing your puppy will only teach him to fear you. Puppies are not intellectually capable of associating anger with wrongdoing. If you catch puppy in the act, clap loudly to alert him it’s not acceptable. Then quickly take him outside by calling him or pulling him gently by the collar. If you find evidence after the act, don’t react angrily by yelling or rubbing the puppy’s nose in it.