Constant barking is perhaps the number one complaint from all dog owners. After all, barking can’t simply be traced back to a specific breed or size. For the larger dogs, the barking is loud and intent, while smaller breeds are chirpy and often referred to as “yappy.” Either way, it’s enough to give you a headache if done for an extended period of time. It’s normal for dogs to vocalize and bark from time to time. It’s the way they communicate. However, when the behavior escalates and is done on a consistent basis then that’s when it turns to frustration for the owners. This article discusses simple methods to understanding and correcting the behavior so that you can live a quiet life.

Before you correct a problem, you must first understand why the problem exists. Try to think like your dog and determine why they insist on barking constantly. I can tell you from personal experience that my dog barked constantly as she got older because she was bored and wanted attention. As a puppy, when she yapped my wife or I would come running into the room and start playing with her. As she got older, she realized that this tactic worked effectively and she continued to use it.

If this is the case, be sure to schedule an hour per day to play with your dog. I recommend scheduling this time at night after you get home and your dog has been deprived of exercise all day. Think of a system between you and your mate so that one of you can take the dog for a daily walk and the other will play with it after work. Daily walks are a great way to reduce the amount of barking.

Curiosity and Unfamiliar sounds.
Keep in mind that a dog’s bark is their only form of communication. Many dogs bark as a result of an unfamiliar sound or loud noise. For instance, if a dog down the street begins barking and your dog starts in after it, then your dog is clearly reaching out to communicate with his or her fellow canine friend. If you feel like this is the case, then expose your dog to as many other dogs as possible. Take them to a park or common public area so that they can experience what it’s like to be around other dogs. When human beings are curious about something, we simply ask questions. Dogs do not have that capability. Instead, they channel their curiosity through their barking. Allowing them to socialize with other dogs and get used to their smells, sights, and sounds just may drastically reduce the barking.

Separation anxiety.
This is probably the most common reason for the repetitive dog barking. I have a friend that owns a Pembroke Corgi and every time he heads out the door she cries out with constant barking. Of course, it highly frustrates him, but he hasn’t taken any measures to prevent the barking. If you’re curious if your dog has separation anxiety then leave a tape recorder or stand outside of your house after you close the door. If your dog barks for minutes at a time then you clearly have a dog that has become attached to you and your departure is traumatizing them. Unfortunately, this type of behavior isn’t easy to fix and can be very time consuming.

I recommend taking small trips down the road. Each time you leave, give your dog some type of treat. This will retrain them to think that your departure isn’t necessarily a bad thing if they receive a goody each time you leave. Every trip should take a little longer, and after a few weeks your dog should be partially or fully corrected of the behavior.

Take corrective measures.
Many people complain about their dog’s constant barking, however, they don’t do anything about it. Don’t torture yourself when something can easily be done about it. My first recommendation is to take your dog to obedience class. Obedience is a good opportunity to help you communicate better with your dog. It will also allow them to be around other dogs and experience different things. They will also teach you various methods to correct their behavior. If you cannot take your dog to obedience class then go to the local library or bookstore and pick up a book to help you train your dog one-on-one. If you choose to go this route, then I have a few suggestions. First, a smaller dog can be easily trained and corrected of barking by a loud “No!” whenever they do it. You’re using intimidation and this can be done with the smaller breed. As for larger dogs, your commands should be harsher and more intent. Also, do not praise your dog when the barking is unwarranted. For instance, if you think it is cute that the dog howls and you begin to laugh, this reinforces their belief that barking is desirable. If your dog barks, be sure to correct it immediately, not a minute after he or she did it. This only confuses the dog and they simply do not learn anything by it.

If the verbal commands are not working, then it’s time to move on to a more physical command. However, I’m not referring to spanking or beating your dog after they bark. Many people use shock collars as a way to train their dog that barking is punished through a series of shocks and jolts. Every person deals with treatment differently. Personally, I like to use a humane bark collar that involves citronella being sprayed into the face of the dog whenever they bark. The citronella is an unpleasant, yet harmless, taste and it will reinforce their behavior.

Good luck!