*** TRAINING TIP OF THE WEEK ***
We have a lot of people asking what to do with dogs that bark a lot in the house.
The first thing that you have to ask yourself is: why is my dog barking?
There is always a reason why your dog is barking and you can’t change the behaviour if you don’t work on the problem that is causing the behaviour.
Sometimes barking is a breed trait, like guard dogs. They are like alarms that go off every time and intruder is too close to the house. Choose your breed wisely because if you get yourself a dog that is bred to guard personal space and territory, you may find that behaviour quiet natural for those breeds and difficult to train it out of them.
Most dog will bark to guard the house and some of them will do it even more because they are afraid of an intruder breaking into their safe place.
First thing to put in place is making sure that dogs don’t feel like they have the responsibility of taking care of the house. Front door and front windows that look directly onto the main road should not be available to your dogs to guard. If your dogs will learn to sit there and bark at everything and everyone that walks past the house or even in the proximity and then that something moves away, (because that is what usually people do walking on the street) your dog will learn that their barking works! It makes people and dogs move away!
You could use baby gates to stop access to certain area of the house, blinds or something on the windows to avoid them looking outside.
Don’t leave access to that room when you are not there. When you are there, simply communicating to the dog that you are taking care of door and window, by removing the dog from area and asking your dog to move to his/her bed or giving them something to do (chewing, licking, playing).
You can reinforce your dog making the decision to come away and stop barking or even to become alert and make the decision not to bark. If you can reinforce the behaviour they are offering before they exhibit the barking, they will try to offer it again to get rewarded.
Sometimes the barking could be for stress, frustration or isolation. You need to understand if your dog is stressing because he find himself in a new place (if you are on holiday) or he doesn’t like to be left alone (separation anxiety).
Helpful to reduce stress could be using a calming spray like Pet Remedies or Adaptil plug in. Also diffusing lavender or camomile oils in the room could be helpful to help with emotional state.
If you are going away and you know your dog is going to stress in the new environment even the use of the thunder shirt could be beneficial to build a sense of security while staying in a new environment.