If your dog is an outside dog, barking can be a problem for you and your neighbors. As part of the solution, provide adequate shelter for hot and cold weather, and plenty of food and water, and avoid chaining your canine. In extreme weather, bring the dog indoors.
Finding the Cause
Put your dog in his kennel and close the door. Double-check that he has sufficient water and bedding. Keep his kennel topped up with boredom-relieving toys.
Behave as if you are going back inside but position yourself out of sight of your dog yet close enough to his kennel that you can watch him.
Monitor your dog’s barking habits. Note down how long it takes him to bark once you’ve left and how long he barks. Separation anxiety and boredom are the two likely causes, but other factors may be at play too. So look out for other animals entering the yard, a gate banging in the win, or traffic noise that may startle your dog.
Identify the motivation for barking. If your dog barks as soon as you leave him in the kennel and stops as soon as your return, it’s probable that he is either barking for attention or is suffering from separation anxiety. If he paces around, plays with his toys and then starts barking, he may just be bored. If he only barks in response to noise or the presence of other animals, such as birds, mice or cats, it is probably territorial barking. He thinks he is protecting you and the rest of the family by warning off intruders.
Put the dog in the kennel, walk away and wait for one minute to address separation anxiety. Return to the kennel and give the dog a treat. Issue verbal praise. This teaches the dog that even though you’ve kenneled him, you will always return.
Repeat the process four times, gradually extending the time before returning to the kennel. If the dog barks, don’t return to him, as this reinforces his attention seeking or anxious behavior. By only rewarding him when calm, you teach him that calmness has a positive outcome.
Kennel the dog and wait close by but out of sight to address territorial barking. Look out for barking stimulators, such as animal intruders, so you can respond quickly. If necessary, have a friend walk by with a dog or bang the gate, so you can control the dog’s environment.
Approach the kennel calmly and quietly as soon as he barks. Say “quiet boy” in a friendly manner and then leave. Return with a treat as soon as he stops. By behaving calmly, you show the dog you are not alarmed and that he needn’t be alarmed either.
- If your dog continues to bark despite your training, consider crating him indoors or consult a veterinarian or trainer.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.