Tag Archives: exercise

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.

Scoping out the Dog Park: A Checklist


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Discovering and participating in new activities with your pup can be one of the most fun and gratifying parts of being a pooch parent. One such popular activity is bringing your furry child (once he’s received all of the required vaccinations and has been cleared by your veterinarian to be in close contact with other dogs) to the dog park. While some feel there’s nothing better than watching your dog play, run free and interact with his adorable peers, many dog owners dislike the idea of the dog park due to valid concerns such as cleanliness and/or potential dangers. Thus, to find out whether the dog park is right for you and your dog, and if it is, to find one that’s safe and comfortable for you and your pet, it’s important to do your research in advance. Start by answering these questions to first find out if your pup is ready for the dog park and if so, how to find that “pawfect park.”

  1. Is your dog’s personality a fit for a highly socialized environment?

If your dog is extremely anxious, shy or aggressive, you may need to undergo some socialization training prior to bringing your dog to a dog park. Be honest with yourself (and your pooch) and be patient if he’s not ready yet. The park isn’t going anywhere, so there is plenty of time to bring him once he’s better trained. You should also make sure your dog is spayed or neutered before taking him to a park – dogs who aren’t fixed can be disruptive and potentially dangerous amongst other dogs in a group setting.

  1. How much exercise does your dog regularly receive?

thumbnail-scoping-dog-parkIn order to make sure your dog is a good candidate for the dog park, make sure you’re not relying on the park as his sole form of exercise. Otherwise, dogs can become overly stimulated and excited by all the new dogs and smells. Among other dangers, this pent-up energy can lead to aggression and dog fighting. Make sure your dog is getting ample opportunity for walks outside and runs in the backyard so that he arrives at the park with a healthy, but curbed amount of energy.

  1. What’s the best way to find a good park?

Ask for recommendations! The best people to ask will be your neighbors as well as pet service providers such as your veterinarian, trainer or groomer. Trusted reviews are crucial to finding a safe park in your area visited by well-mannered pooches and courteous pet parents. Once you have a recommendation, look up the park’s hours and rules.

  1. What are the must-have amenities in a dog park?

Make sure the dog park has all of the necessary conveniences including a clean water source that’s available and/or large enough to accommodate many dogs at once, several easily accessible garbage cans as well as doggy bags for waste disposal, and benches or comfortable seating in a shaded area for pet parents to congregate and watch their pooches frolic.

  1. What safety measures are crucial to check for?

When visiting the dog park, make sure all enclosures are free of sharp points which could cause injury. The barricades should also be tall enough to prevent larger dogs from jumping over them. On the flip side, look out for any holes or gaps in fencing that smaller dogs could squeeze through. Most dog parks will have two separate sides – one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs as an extra safety precaution. Size does matter in this case – pay attention to the weight limits or breed rules. Clearly mixing a Chihuahua and a German Shepherd is a bad idea.

  1. Is the park up to your cleanliness standards?

While all dog parks require owners to clean up after their pets, not all do unfortunately. Watch for piles of fecal matter to not only avoid stepping in them yourself, but avoid your dog getting dirty or worse, ingesting and getting sick. The best ground cover for dog parks is grass or gravel. The ground should be free of burrs or sharp debris that could get stuck in your dog’s coat or injure his paws.

  1. How do the other owners interact at the park?

When you arrive at the dog park, pay attention to the other puppy parents and see if they’re showing awareness and taking control of their pups. Oblivious or careless owners can make the dog park a dangerous place. And once there, if you’re ever worried about the other owners’ level of responsibility, don’t hesitate to leave. In an ideal dog park environment, the owners are interacting with the dogs, following and calling them when necessary. If you see a group of owners clumped around a bunch of picnic tables engrossed in conversation with no idea what their dog(s) are doing, it’s a bad sign.

Now that you’ve done your due diligence and know what to look out for in a dog park, you can let your pooch off-leash with confidence.  Be sure to capture those woofs, wags and games of fetch on video!  Oh, and be prepared for your pooch to take a long snooze after the experience. Playing and running around with other pups can be tiring!