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by Tracy Atkins
Complete Canine Training, LLC
P.O. Box 131652
The Woodlands, TX 77393
281-825-6404 www.YESPUP.com

"QUIET!" You yell from the doorway at 3:00 am. "Buddy" (names have been changed to protect the innocent) the neighbor's dog is at it again. His deep Pointer bark allows him to be heard throughout the neighborhood. Feelings of hate and resentment run through your head as you stub your toe on your way back to bed. Just as you begin to doze off, Buddy chimes in again. You resist the temptation to get up and yell again, in the hopes he might settle down and sleep. When your alarm goes off just a few hours later you know something must be done about Buddy. But what?

Over at Buddy's house, his owners have learned to sleep through his nighttime ritual. They know it exists but don't know what to do about it. They fear for the future day when a citation is written because they know it means they may have to give Buddy away. So until someone complains, they decide to ignore his barking in the hopes that he will eventually learn to be quiet.

One of the biggest misconceptions about barking is that it can't be stopped. Whether you are the owner or a neighbor, a barking dog can make you feel out of control and helpless.

If you have ever had to deal with a barking dog, you aren't alone. The most frequent complaint received by animal control are those about barking dogs. It is an irritating problem that we either eliminate or learn to accept. Actually, barking happens for many reasons. The great part is that in most cases, barking is simple to curb or eliminate!

First off, if you're a neighbor, read this article so that you know how you might help. Then give it to the owner of the barking dog in hopes that s/he see's this as a sign that you are wanting to help, not complain.

Dogs bark for many reason's and that makes it difficult to stop without some training help. Dogs bark for communication, protection, fear, aggression, boredom, attention, stating sexual prowess, even joy. The key is finding the motivation behind your dog's problem barking behavior. Here we have outlined some ways for you to control or eliminate your dog's barking behavior.

Protection, boredom and sexual frustrations are the most common reasons for problem barking. Many people have dogs because they want to ward off intruders. Therefor eliminating barking seems to be counter productive to having a dog. However, it is actually very simple to have a dog bark on command, even "quiet" on command. When your dog is barking, give him a word association by saying "who's there?" Most dogs will begin to associate the words with barking within just a few weeks. In order to get a quiet command, just wait until the dog stops barking and say "quiet". Again, within a few weeks the dog should have the association between barking and being quiet to word commands. This doesn't decrease protective barking, it just put's control over when and where it happens.

Boredom is another major cause of barking. Dogs can get very lonely and bored when the owner is not present which is why many dogs bark when owners are not home. If this is the case, then train your dog to occupy himself by teaching him to chew. Select a few durable toys like a Kong or Nylabone. Fill the toy with a hard biscuit, peanut butter or soft dog food, freeze it and give it to the dog to chew. After all, if the mouth is busy chewing, it can't be barking!

Exercise your dog. Daily exercise reduces stress and energy. Play ball or go for a walk, whatever you and your dog enjoy! If you can't walk your dog on leash, get training. Using a Gentle Leader, (available from Complete Canine Training) most dogs are walking like angels in just ten minutes!

Training your dog tires him emotionally and it teaches you to reinforce good behavior like laying down and sleeping, playing with an appropriate toy, etc.

Hormones, play a huge part in bad behavior like barking. Especially in unneutered male dogs, who tend to be extremely frustrated due to the fact they can smell females in heat up to twelve miles away. Spaying or neutering your pet eliminates sexual frustration. (Note that breeding your dog will usually only lead to further frustration and barking.)

Diet can also play a part in your dog barking behavior. Over stimulating the system with higher nutrient counts than required, can lead to nervous energy - which can result in barking. Dogs over eight months old may be fed a premium adult dog food. It will have the nutrients needed, but not exceed what the dog can use. Keep in mind, the higher the protein, the more energy to get rid of, so avoid "hi-pro" foods.

Barking for attention is also a problem. Unfortunately, we usually reinforce this behavior, because we incorrectly assume that disciplining it will eliminate it. While discipline may work to eliminate other causes of barking, it won't work for attention issues. So if your dog barks at you for attention, ignore him. Put a blanket over his crate, or make him sit to come inside, instead of bark. This helps teach him an appropriate way to engage you.

Some people choose a "quick fix." No-Bark collars are available from most pet supply stores. Prices range from $40 up to $300, depending on type, style and features. The biggest drawback to using a no bark collar is that the dog must wear it any time they are likely to bark. Also, many dog will learn when the collar is on, and when it isn't! According to a study conducted at the Cornell University Veterinary College showed electric shock anti-bark devices to be 44.4% effective, while a device issuing a squirt of citronella oil was 88.9% effective. Citronella spray collars are available from Complete Canine Training.

What can you do to curb your dogs barking?
( )1. Spay or Neuter your pet. Eliminating sexual frustration is very nice thing to do for your pet! (Note that breeding your dog will usually only lead to further frustration and barking.)
( )2. Train your dog to chew. If your dog is chewing, it isn't barking! Select a few durable toys like a Kong® or Nylabone® (available at pet supply stores) and fill them with peanut butter or soft dog food for a treat!
( )3. Give your dog a job. Teach your dog to play with a special toy like a ball that it may only have when you are away.
( )4. Give your dog a Vitamin B Complex supplement. (The same kind you would purchase for yourself!) Vitamin B is a natural stress reducer and may help your dog metabolize stress easier.
( )5. Allow your dog a safe, confined area to sleep, preferably indoors. This not only allows time for owners to be with their dogs (the main reason many owners got a dog) but it also allows the dog to feel safe and secure.
( )6. Exercise your dog. Daily exercise reduces stress and energy. Play ball or go for a walk, whatever you and your dog enjoy!
( )7. Train your dog. Obedience training reinforces good behavior's. Group classes offer an opportunity for your dog to learn how to be well mannered.
( )8. If all else fails, try anti-bark collars. Sensitive dogs may be trained with an inexpensive store bought "shock" or "tone" variety, however, more severe barkers may need a combination off all of the above checklist items and a collar. Anti Bark collars rarely work without some additional training. We recommend anti-bark collars that spray citronella. Citronella Gentle Spray Collars® are available from Complete Canine Training.

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