Behavior Tips & Tricks Issue #7: Behavioral Training
In the last issue we talked about games to help enhance your behavioral training sessions. In this issue we are going to talk about behavioral training that will help stop whining, howling and excessive barking.
Barking is the natural way for your dog to communicate. They bark at things they see that are either interesting or threatening to them. While you want to make sure your dog can express themselves by barking occasionally, you also want to make sure it doesn't become a problem.
Dogs bark for a variety of different reasons. Many times it's because they are trying to alert you to the presence of a stranger or some other type of perceived danger. They will also bark during times of stress, when left alone for a long period of time or due to separation anxiety.
Some dogs will begin barking to seek attention or simply because they're bored. These are what I like to call, nuisance barkers. However, most dogs will start barking whenever they hear other dogs bark which can be a real problem and an extremely difficult behavior to correct.
Whatever the reason, the simple fact of the matter is that sometimes their excessive whining, barking and howling can become a big problem as well as a source of stress in the household, especially when they begin to get on you or your neighbor's nerves.
Once you've had your dog for a while, you should be able to determine the main reason behind this annoying habit, which will help you figure out the best way to know about stopping it.
Let's go over a few ideas that can help you determine the reason behind your dogs excessive barking, whining and howling so that you can decide the best course of action for correcting this bad behavior once and for all:
They may be trying to tell you that they are hungry, thirsty or both. Make sure that they are well fed and always has access to water.
They may be board and want to play. Provide them with toys to help keep them busy and play games with them to help wear them out as we discussed in our last issue.
After you have provided food, water, toys and played with your faithful canine companion they should be quiet. However, if they are not, don’t be afraid to let them know that their behavior is not acceptable.
Some dogs really don't like being left alone. They get upset when no one else is around which leads to stress and anxiety. This stress and anxiety along will make your dog more apt to bark, whine and howl for long periods of time.
Even if you are at home with the dog, they need to learn how to be alone. Don’t make it a habit of always catering to them when they whine.
If you do, they will expect you to come every time. You'll have a difficult time breaking the habit.
Sometimes a dog will whine because they need to go outside and do their business. To avoid this make sure that you take them is after they eat, after an activity and after a nap or when they are waking up in the morning. Of course, there will be other times, but once the dog gets trained, you will be able to figure it all out.
One way to help stop this annoying habit is to reward them whenever they stop barking. Not unlike other types of obedience training, you can easily stop your dog from barking by teaching them when to be quiet.
The quiet command is a great place to start. When using this command it's important to use a low but authoritative tone in your voice. Once they stop barking quickly reward them by telling them good in a higher tone and by giving them a treat. However, you need to do this instantly after they stop so that they understand what the reward is for.
You can also try distracting your dog from barking by waving a treat in front of their face and speaking the quiet command. Refrain from giving them their reward until they have been quiet for several seconds. be sure to accompany their reward with plenty of praise to help reinforce the behavior.
When it comes to teaching your dog not to bark, whine or howl excessively it's best to start as young as possible. While older dogs can be taught to be quiet it is much more difficult and time-consuming to break a habit that's been going on for years.
Remember, just like with any other type of behavioral training, patience and consistency are key, so don't get discouraged if your dog has lapses along the way. Just continue reinforcing their good behavior and correcting the bad and you will soon live in a bark free zone.
Make sure you look for your next issue soon. We will be going over some basic rules to help reinforce your dogs good behavior.