Barking in dogs is common and is often caused by separation anxiety. Although incessant barking is a nuisance to family members, guests and neighbors, there are several behavioral techniques you can try to alleviate or even eliminate your dog's whimpers, cries and barks.
Things You'll Need
- dog leash
- dog treats
- dog toys
- dog chew toys or raw hides
- bark collar
- prescription for anti-anxiety dog medication
- television or radio
- access to veterinary office
Steps to control anxiety barking
Establish a daily routine for you and your dog. Try walking and feeding your dog at the same time each day. Do the same for play time and "quiet time." Also, if you leave and return home from work at the same time each day, your dog will begin to expect and appreciate this routine, allowing him or her to feel calmer because they have a sense of what to expect.
Exercise and playtime should be an important role in your dog's daily life. By exercising your dog twice a day for at least 20 minutes, he or she will expend negative energy and stress. Tiring them out will help decrease their feelings of anxiousness and the need to bark.
Train your dog not to bark. If your dog has heard a noise and barks, they are more than likely trying to alert you, the owner, by being a good watchdog. At first you may thank him for being a good watch dog by saying "Shush." If your dog continues to bark, say "Don't bark," using a stern tone. Keep telling your dog not to bark in this manner until they have become quiet. At this time you may reward him by saying in a happier voice, "Good dog." Repeat this a few times and give him a treat. This will teach him to associate positive reactions from you when he stops barking.
Anti-barking collars may help quiet the dog by startling him when he barks. These devices should always be used in conjunction with a behavioral modification program, as listed above.
Anti-anxiety medications are also available by prescription from your veterinarian. To obtain these you must first make an appointment with your vet to discuss a suitable medication choice for your dog. Many dogs who suffer from anxiety barking benefit from taking the drug Clomicalm. Medications should also be used along with a behavioral modification program.
Distraction is also a useful technique to control barking. Some dogs feel less anxious when their owners leave on the radio, a sound machine or the television (preferably set to Animal Planet). Distraction sounds will mask other noises coming from within the building or outside that may frighten you dog.
Tips & Warnings
- Many dog owners face the issue of anxiety barking and when a solution is not met, the owner may give away their pet or surrender them to an animal shelter. This does not have to happen. It is possible to correct this problem yourself.
- Give these techniques some time, dedication and patience. You will notice a difference in your dog's behavior. Consult your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
- It is important that you never repeatedly yell at or scold you dog. Also, do not ever hit or abuse your dog. By showing that you are angry or upset, your dog's anxiety and barking is likely to increase.
- Separation Anxiety. by Debra Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, Diplomate ACVB, Copywrite 2005
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