Ask Dr. Anna: The key to prevent barking

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Barking is a natural instinct that dogs exhibit for many reasons. Unfortunately, it also one of the most common complaints of dog owners and their neighbors. Territorial protection, separation anxiety, anxiety, frustration and exposure to new or unusual sounds, sights or odors are the main reasons why dogs bark. The question is how do you get your dog to stop barking?

Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.
Anna Coffin is the Veterinarian at Guthrie Pet Hospital and can be contacted at (405) 282-8796.

The key to prevent barking is to properly socialize your puppy to as many new people, animals, situations and noises as possible during their socialization period (8-16 weeks of age). Proper crate training will also aid in reducing anxiety when left alone. Barking should only be allowed to alert owners and then be controlled and stopped. Unfortunately, if you have an adult dog it’s going to take some behavior training and possibly some training devices to get your dog’s barking under control.

The key to training your dog to stop barking is to reward the behavior that you want (quiet) and not to give them any kind of attention when they are barking. Most people unintentionally reward and reinforce their dog’s bad behavior by allowing the dog indoors, feeding, petting, praising, playing, giving a toy or yelling at the dog to quiet down.

You can teach your dog a “quiet” command by waiting until your dog is barking. Place a tasty food treat by his nose which will cause most dogs to stop barking and sniff the treat. Once they stop barking immediately say “quiet”, give the dog the treat and praise your dog.

There are some anti-barking devices available that work well for most dogs. I recommend these products if you dog is barking primarily when you are not at home. Check out this list courtesy of PuppyWire to find anti bark collars for your pet if this is the route you are looking to go down. These device ensure immediate and accurate timing by emitting a sound or smell that is unpleasant to the dog. Barker breakers are battery operated devices which you can use inside your house or out in your yard that emit an ultrasonic sound when the dog barks. There are also collars that emit citronella spray or air every time the dog barks. If the underlying cause of the barking is anxiety these products are usually ineffective and the dog will bark until the battery is dead or the citronella can is empty.

Please e-mail me with your questions at ACoffin@aol.com and put “Ask Dr. Anna” in the subject line or mail your questions to 123 West Harrison Guthrie, OK 73044.

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