Life is stressful enough without having a constant barking sound in your ear. There are many different reasons dog bark, but it’s not something dogs require to be happy. Dogs bark to different emotions of stress, anxiety, or frustration. None of these emotions are healthy for your beloved animal. Your dog will benefit tremendously from correcting this behavior, and I will give you some tips on how.
Even though there are many different situations the basic principles are the same. I am only going to give you one example but keep in mind the correcting of the behavior is essentially the same.
Identify the problem.
Let’s take a look at one of the most common situations that leave your dog a barking mess. Sometimes this particular problem is hard to identify because it only happens when you are not around. Usually you have to find out from your neighbors or worse, the control officer.
Dogs are pack animals; they understand that there is only one leader and many followers. They also understand that as a pack it is everyone’s job to protect each other. So when the pack leaves to go to school, work, etc. your dog panics because he has not only lost his pack, he has lost his comfort and protection. Since your dog cannot phone for help, he will resort to crying, or barking for help. Hoping a pack member will hear them and come rescue them.
If your dog feels as though his barking is not working he may resort to other annoying behaviors; chewing, destroying, digging, and jumping fences. Remember these are behaviors associated with feelings of stress. Your dog is under the belief that he is doing his job, he wants to make sure you are safe.
This is also a major sign that your dog feels as though he is the pack leader. It is the pack leader’s job to protect the others. As you can tell for your dog being the pack leader is a very stressful job. That’s why we the owners assume the responsibility as pack leader to insure our animals get to live a nice stress free life.
Techniques that can be more harmful than helpful.
There are many different toys and treats out there you may be tempted to give your dog when you leave, but understand distracting your dog is not the same as correcting the problem. In some cases it can make the situation much worse.
Say you are ready to leave and you give your dog a toy jammed with peanut butter in hopes he will forget about you leaving. This is partially true and may work for about 30 minutes. However, if it does work and your dog forgot you left; once he is done with the toy and realizes he is alone it can may cause twice as much stress.
Our goal is to treat the long term problem, rather than containing a few symptoms. If someone locked you in a room and threw you a box of chocolates would that help you cope with the situation? Probably not. Always take the time to try and look at the problem through your dog’s eyes. He doesn’t want treats he wants to know his pack is protected and safe.
The first step in correcting any issues with your dog is to remind them that you are the pack leader. As the pack leader you do not require any additional protection. It is the pack leader’s job to protect the others and that is essentially what you are doing when you leave your dog at home. When you leave your dog at home he needs to feel relaxed knowing that you are doing your job keeping him safe.
Before you leave say goodbye to your dog. Stay calm and let him know there is no reason to get excited you will be home soon. If you get nervous around your dog because you don’t know how he will behave while you are gone you will send the wrong signals. Your dog will assume you are nervous because you are about to put yourself in danger and he will not be there to protect you. Have confidence in your animal and he will have confidence in you.
Exercise your dog as often as you can. Tired dogs are relaxed dogs. When you don’t exercise your animal it increases the feelings of anxiety, a tired dog is a happy dog.
Find your dog’s happy space. Try different areas until you find one you think your dog is happy with. Some dogs do better in big rooms, small rooms, or outside if you can. Sometimes it helps if you make them a bed, or an area they can call their own. Make sure the area is not to hot or cold, if you do leave them outside make sure they have shade and shelter.
Give your dog plenty of food and water before you leave. This will help relax knowing he will not starve to death. It is okay to leave your dog some toys to entertain himself with but try not leaving him with bones. Bones can elevate your dog’s stress level, your hoping he will just sleep the whole time you are gone.
Still having problems?
There are subtle ways to ease your dog’s loneliness. Try leaving the television on or music to help comfort your animal. Hire a dog walker to give your dog a nice break and some company.
There are types of comfort jackets designed for dogs to help with anxiety. You could even try some herbal remedies. However, it important to remember the techniques do not actually solve your problem but try to help calm your animal and may not work. They can also be very costly.
It is never a good idea to buy another dog in hopes that he will provide your dog with comfort. Your current dog will most likely train your other dog to behave as they do. This will obviously make your current problem worse.
Your dog does not need a friend. He needs a strong pack leader and a comfortable and safe environment.