When your dog barks

Dogs bark, it’s one of those things they do. Most of us want our dogs to alert us when someone’s approaching the house or knocking on a door, but sometimes dogs bark for other reasons and we’d prefer they didn’t. So what do you do?

One of the best things you can do when your dog is barking is to go to him and investigate what he’s barking at. Sometimes you’ll be surprised and glad you took the time to look. Trust me, it happens. What you’ll also find is that often times just by acknowledging that your dog has seen something, and now that your dog knows you’ve also seen it too, your dog will actually listen to you when you ask him to be quiet. Try it, it can work!

There are however, other instances of nuisance barking i.e. if you live in a busy neighborhood where people pass by your house, perhaps your dog barks at the mailman EVERY day, or even at squirrels in the backyard. If this is a behavior you want to eliminate I suggest that you somehow limit your dog’s access to the windows/doors where he can see the things that get him riled up. You might do this by drawing the shades, closing off access to the room, or perhaps temporarily placing a piece of cardboard in the window to block off your dog’s view. The height of the cardboard would be determined by the size of your dog.

Barking can be a very rewarding/reinforcing behavior. Remember what I said in an earlier post, you can tell if something is reinforcing if it builds or maintains a behavior. If your dog is a real barker it’s reinforcing to him. In order to limit the behavior you need to break the cycle by managing his access to the stimuli.

Hope this is helpful!

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