Barking is a natural behavior that may occur more in some breeds or individual dogs than others because of their breeding or temperament. Some are more excitable, while others are more likely to react to confinement or isolation by barking.
Prospective owners need to carefully select a dog suitable for their lifestyle and home environment.
Dogs will bark at any noises or movements they can see hear and smell but are not able to investigate or reach. People or dogs passing by, birds flying overhead, lawn mowers, the telephone ringing, a knock on the door, livestock in adjacent paddocks or the sound of other dogs may trigger a bout of barking.
A well-socialized dog that has been given a variety of experiences when young is less likely to overreact to outside distractions.
Dogs are social animals and will actively seek the company of other dogs and people. When left alone in back yards all day they may bark for attention. Most dogs will adapt to being left on their own if conditioned to do so from an early age. Leaving the dog alone for short periods at first and then gradually increasing the time to the maximum period it will regularly spend on its own, will help the dog to adjust.
Owners can also assist by establishing a routine so that the dog receives attention when they are home.
A dog should not be kept near a walkway, hostile neighbors, or where children can tease it. The location of the dog's kennel or run may need to be changed if it is too close to a neighbor or other distractions.
Neighbors who have dogs that growl and bark at each other should restrict each of the dogs access to the fence-line. A high solid fence or confining the dog to the rear of a property can prevent a dog from growling, barking or lunging at passers-by.
A dog will often bark at visitors arriving, whether they are strangers or friends, especially if it is behind a barrier. If a dog is introduced to the visitors, it won't be so vocal when they arrive.
Many dogs are anxious or insecure when their owners are absent and may cope with the stress of separation by barking, digging or chewing. Plastic or hide bones should be given to the dog before its owner leaves home as these can provide an outlet for the dog's anxiety. Minimal attention should be given to the dog before its owner departs.
Excitable dogs will bark when over-stimulated. This frequently occurs during play or when the dog is chasing a ball or birds in the garden.
Changes In The Dogs Life
A major change in an older dog's lifestyle or environment may cause excessive barking. If an owner starts working longer hours, a marriage breaks up, a new baby arrives or a family shifts house, the amount and type of attention the dog receives or its status in the household may change.
Instead of ignoring the dog, the owner should establish a new routine that includes exercise, training and play.
Dogs that are hot, wet, cold or without shelter may bark, as will dogs that are sick or in pain, hungry, thirsty or entangled in their chain. Before leaving home, the owner must ensure that their dog has access to good shelter, bedding, food, water and familiar toys throughout the day.
Dogs that are kept inside should have access to the outside when their owners are absent.
Teaching The Dog To Bark
If a dog is taken for a walk, brought into the house or comforted because its barking is too loud and prolonged, then the barking will always be loud and prolonged. The dog soon learns that barking can be rewarding.
If a dog is brought inside the house because of it’s barking it must be done so on a permanent basis. A part of the house can be sectioned off for its use.
Yelling at or hitting a barking dog achieves nothing except to reward the dog by giving it the attention it was seeking. Whether the attention is good or bad it does not matter to a dog that seeks this.
Physical punishment will increase the likelihood of future barking by making the dog more anxious and may also cause it to bite when threatened in the future.
Get into the habit of rewarding a dog for being quiet by praising him or releasing him. To often we only acknowledge the dog when he barks.
Exercise along will not stop a dog from barking, but it may provide an active release for its energy. Exercise should be varied, with 15-20 minutes daily spent walking, training and playing with the dog. If the dog is to be left alone all day, it is preferable for the owner to exercise it before leaving work. Riding a bicycle with the dog running alongside is dangerous. Too often a dog is distracted by another dog and pulls its owner off the bicycle and into traffic, or the dog itself gets injured in the moving wheels.
Getting A Second Dog
Another dog may help if a dog is barking because of isolation or anxiety. If not, then the resident dog will probably teach the new dog to bark at all the distractions it presently barks at.
Owners considering a second dog should first borrow a dog from friends, on different occasions, to assess whether company will reduce their dog's barking. Other pets can provide company for the dog. Caged birds can be used, but they must be kept out of the dog's reach.
Barking Dogs Kept Inside The House
Curtains should be drawn and the dog's access to windows restricted to prevent it from barking at passers-by. A "do not disturb", or a "do not ring" sign pinned to the door when the owner is absent will decrease the likelihood of the dog barking when someone knocks or rings.
Some dogs will relax more if the lighting is dimmed. A radio, TV, video or music can be left playing when the owner is out. This may comfort the dog by muffling any extraneous sounds and creating conditions similar to when its owners are home. If the continual ringing of a telephone causes the dog to bark, an answer phone can be installed. This will enable the owner to call home at irregular intervals and use their voice to distract the dog from its barking.
Filling in the holes: Try refilling the holes with junk. With junk, dogs can quickly lose interest and pretty much stop digging. Fill the hole with whatever is at hand - dead leaves, sticks, pine needles, rocks or even dog feces. Fill the top 2 inches or so with dirt. The dog finds the stuff, gets discouraged and often quits digging. They seem to get the idea they'll never know where they'll find junk, and it's not worth the effort to dig only to find junk so they quit.
Surprises in the hole: you can try burying a water balloon in one of the holes which will pop in its face when it starts digging.
A sandbox: Try to remember that digging is a natural tendency for dogs. So, if there is any
place where your dog may be allowed to dig, you should encourage it (and only in that
place). Designate an area where the dog can dig. Many people build a sand box for their
dog. Place the box in an area that is cool in summer and warm in winter.
To teach the dog to dig only in the box, place or bury toys or treats
(sliced hotdogs, for example) in the box. Encourage the dog to dig up the
toy or treat. Praise the dog. Repeat until the dog willingly jumps in and
digs. Watch the dog. When it starts to dig in any other place, quickly go
out and take your dog to its box. Show it (by digging yourself), that it
should dig in its box.
To deter boredom, place several toys/treats in the box before you leave for work. The dog will spend its time digging in the correct place rather than digging up your roses. You can also sprinkle animal essence (available at hunting supplies places). Remember that dogs like to dig in freshly turned earth. So get out that shovel and turn the dirt over in the sand box every now and then. Toss in some fresh dirt. Keep a close eye on freshly planted areas, as they will be very attractive (bury some extra hotdogs in the sandbox when you are putting down new plants).
Line the yard- for extreme cases you can line the yard with chicken wire and put a layer of sod over that. Use paving bricks or blocks around the edge to prevent the dog from injuring itself on the edge of the chicken wire.