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Why does my dog Bark?

A lot of people that reach out for help with training have one thing in common, their dogs bark! It could be at other dogs, people, moving things, other animals, etc. but it is a problem they would like help with. This blog should help you understand more of why they bark and how to start to fix the problem.

Barking is a natural behavior that dogs use to communicate with and there are many reasons behind the bark. One reason is they see another dog and want to say hi to that other dog. They may want to just greet, give a quick sniff and go on their way or they may want to play. It could also be different for each dog they meet. When they are barking at another dog, they are entering an arousal state which sets their mind into a different path. It becomes harder to redirect them when they are in this path. The best thing to do is snap them out of this by waving treats in front of their nose and turning them away from the stimulus. Once they are in a calm enough state then they can greet the other dog if the opportunity allows it. If they are not able to greet the other dog, then keep them redirected an walk away from that dog. The more they look at the dog and are not able to greet the more frustrated they could get. If your dog is not able to greet any dogs when they are out in public, your dog can become more frustrated and that can turn more into an aggressive state. It is important from the beginning to socialize your dog so you don't have a frustrated/aggressive dog.

Dogs can also bark because they are fearful of something that is around. In this situation you would need to use positive reinforcement to retrain their brain to not be so afraid of that stimuli. For example, you have a dog that is afraid of loud cars/trucks going by. The last thing you want to do is force them into that situation. It will only make them worse. First, you would need to find their threshold, which is the point in the yard/house where they do not react to the cars/trucks. Once you find that this spot you start giving them treats/higher value food when the loud cars/trucks go by. As time goes on you will move closer to those noises to where they are comfortable being around it without freaking out. Desensitizing a dog can take a long time so be patient with them!

Dogs that are excessive barkers are harder to fix but it can be done. They just need to learn to do another command instead of barking. For example, you have a dog that barks at everything that passes the house. First of all, they are being rewarded for that barking most of the time because they start to bark when they hear/see the stimuli and once the stimuli is gone they did their job and they will most likely stop barking. Instead, when they start to bark at something outside, redirect them with higher value food and either tell them quiet or use a hand signal. My hand signal for quiet it my pointer finger pressed to my lips. Once your dog is quiet for 3-5 seconds they can get a reward. This will teach them to look at you for direction when they see things pass the house instead of barking continuously.

Dogs also bark/lunge at cars as they are going for a walk. This can mean several things. It could be that they are trying to protect their family, alert you that there is a car, they are bored, or they have had a negative experience with a vehicle in the past. With any of these reason, you want to teach your dog to associate vehicles as a positive thing. One way to teach this is to give them a treat before a car goes by. Be on the look out and when you spot a car before your dog does, start giving them high value food. Continue to give the food as the car drives by. Once the car has passed and they didn't react, give them a little more food and also use a happy voice to praise them. This again will take a while but be patient. Dogs are very willing to learn and very much enjoy being taught and show what to do. Another command you can use to redirect you dog is teach them "Watch Me". This is where they look at you for direction.

I hope this blog helped you understand a little more of why dogs bark and give you some tools on how to start to fix it.

If you are still having trouble and can't seem to fix the problem on your own, feel free to reach out and we can tackle the problem together!

Happy Training!!


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