Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Excessive Dog Barking

Welcome to The Cherry On Top.

I'm still a bit shaken up from the nervousness I had by approaching a neighbour about their dog who barks non stop, nearly every day, all day.  I thought I'd write a piece about excessive barking, why dogs do it, how it effects others and ways to get your dog to stop barking if it is barking excessively.

This is our dog, Bichon.  One day, mysteriously, our gate got open and he went to greet a neighbour and his German Sheppard.  I will spare you the gory details and just say that their dog kicked our dog's ass.  After hours of surgery and over $1,000 in veterinary bills, he's on the mend.

As I mentioned, the dog was our neighbour's.  Recently the city cut down all of the trees and bushes that were hiding the Sheppard's view from the rest of the neighbourhood and ever since, the dog has been barking.  He starts barking around 8 am and can bark until after 10 pm, intermittently.

Here's how someone else dog's excessive barking effects us:

Since the attack, when this Sheppard barks, my dog goes in a frenzy whether inside or outside.  Since that dog barks all of the time, our dog barks right along with him.  If my youngest son (with Autism) is around, he goes bonkers, too and often tries to injure the dog to make him stop.  Can you just imagine the insanity of two dogs barking and a child having a meltdown?  Day after day, month after month.

We can't let our dog outside for more than a few minutes at a time because after a while, it's assured that the Sheppard will start barking and so will ours.  Bichon will bark just as much as the Sheppard, if I don't stop him.  We also have to keep the windows closed because of the noise and this dog lives a street further!  We don't have A/C either.  So, you can see how this isn't the best scenario. He's barking as I type this, which also effects my work.  I have to put a radio on loud to cover the barking so I can get some work done and so I don't have to keep getting Bichon to stop barking.

After months of this constant, daily struggle, I went over to their house.  The dog had been barking nearly non stop all morning.  I greeted them and nicely asked if they would consider doing something about the constant barking of their dog.  They were shocked and not pleased.  They told me there was nothing they could do.  They told me other dogs barks, too.  I agreed and responded that they did not bark a fraction of what their's does.  I gently explained what I wrote above about not being able to let my dog outside and how my child with Autism responds to all of this excessive, loud noise.  It didn't matter to them.  They may have just shut off as soon as I gave them a reason to be defensive.

I'm naturally, a bit of hot head and thought it best I just leave.  On my walk home I thought I could have given them some resources to help them with the barking, like I'm going to give you and I might still do that.  Nothing like presenting a problem without a possible solution. 

Let's get into why dogs bark excessively.  First, it's ok that dogs bark.  Dogs bark when they are happy, when they need something, out of fear, boredom, to get attention, if they are sick, from separation anxiety and when they are depressed.  I'm not going to make any judgements on this dog because I don't know the story.

Let's look into what NOT to do.  Sometimes that is more helpful than learning what TO do.

Do not yell at the dog.  The dog thinks that you are joining in!  Screaming shut up, which is what JJ does, is only going to make matters worse.

Do not allow excessive barking to continue.  Dogs get a rush of adeline when barking which can sometimes encourage them to bark more.

Do not allow him to bark in particular situations.  Think of the mailman.  If you never correct the barking at the mailman, it could be a disaster if the dog is accidentally loose when the mailman is in the area or say with a cat.

Do not muzzle a dog to keep them quiet while unattended or for long periods of time.

OK, now let's get into what we can do to stop the dog from barking excessively.

First, address the barking immediately and follow through.

Quietly yet firmly, say "quiet".  You could always reinforce the ideal behaviour by giving the dog a treat when they stop barking on your command.

Wear the dog out with play or a long walk.  I think the reason a lot of dogs bark, is because they are bored.  Keeping your dog busy will make the dog happier and healthier, too.  Our dog barks a lot less when he's busy or tired.

There are a lot of resources out there.  We'll provide you with a couple of links.

I've recently bought our dog Kong toys.  They are amazing!  This is a new one and it keeps him busy for hours.  It holds quite a bit of treats and takes him ages to get them out.  It keeps him both mentally and physically engaged.  Awesome, right?!  I don't often leave him home alone, but I know he hates it and I'm sure he barks while we are gone.  So, I fill it and give it to him before I leave.

If you have a dog that barks excessively, please remedy this problem.  I am sure that more than just your household is effected by this.  Make sure your dog is healthy and then make it a priority to help your dog and your neighbours.

Perhaps you are dealing with a neighbour's dog like I did.  Consider all of your options before approaching and have no expectations.  Just be careful, calm and perhaps consider going with a couple of solutions to help.

Thanks for checking out The Cherry.

Here are some links that may help you further.  They provide a lot of information and a couple of different techniques than the ones I mention here.

Best of luck!

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