Barking complaints are horrid, especially for the dog in distress, then the owner and the neighbour. Dog owners can feel embarrassed, vulnerable and often unsure about what to do.
Quick decisions are made.
Dogs are placed inside, curtains and blinds are drawn. Screens are placed over the picket fence, anything to reduce the dog seeing the trigger that starts the barking. Children are told to put the dog inside when they bounce the basketball or jump on the trampoline. All these things are management strategies to reduce the occurrence of the dog barking. They will work and can cause stress in their implementation but they don’t address the real issue …..
Why do our dogs get so aroused? …………………………Why do they bark?
Most dog owners can relate to the types of barking, they have seen dogs barking in these situations. The big discussions occur on how to solve the issues. Everyone is an expert. Barking dog owners are flooded with advice. The key point to remember is that barking can’t be controlled with one single method.
It does need further investigation.
Before we start to debate our points of view … can we raise the question of why does the dog feel barking is a solution or outlet ,in the situation they find themselves placed in that moment.
– Where and when does the barking occur?
– Who or what is the target of the barking?
– What things trigger the barking?
Let’s take my Cocker Spaniel for example. She had taken to barking when the car boot of the hatchback was closed but only if another dog was in the car.
- So the other dog is a trigger, the hatch is a trigger.
She does not bark directly at the other dog, she stops barking when the driver gets in the car.
- When the Cocker and the other dog are placed in a salon car, no barking.
- If we place the Cocker in the hatchback alone, no barking.
So we sat in the car and observed the situation from the dogs point of view.
What we found was that when the hatch was being closed we moved backwards and lowered our body heights, meaning everyone was much closer in that moment of uncertainty. Ah Ha.
Could it be that my Cocker could not cope with other dogs, being so closed to her, when she was in a stressed situation?
We placed the dogs in the car and counter-conditioned the closing of the hatch with a treat, quickly the Cocker began to associate a human standing at the back of the car meant a treat would be given from a person in the back seat. This meant they, the dogs would turn to face away from the hatch door. The dogs got this and the treat was given before the closing , during the closing, after the closing of the hatch.
The final point, meant the dogs got into the car, immediately looked at the driver’s door, waited for the person to get in, to receive a treat.
No barking, both dogs relaxed.
But not all barking can be solved by training alone.
The Australian Veterinary Association ( AVA) has come up with a questionnaire . Please take the time to complete it. It is valuable information.
Both the AVA document and the table above infer that some barking is not a learnt behaviour.
That barking can be associated with fear and stress within the situation.
Some dogs become so stressed they are unable to think and apply any reasoning to the situation .
It has becomes clear that barking needs to be investigated further and solutions need to be tailored to the dog.
Sharing your solution with other barking dog owners however qualified is not appropriate.
Each dog deserves their own investigation and assistance.