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However sizist it is, it’s true that smaller dogs are more prone to excessive barking. It’s also worth it to note that how a dog barks is also his way of communicating his needs to you. Instead of getting a dog to stop barking, the best method is to understand the reason behind their barks first. It’s not that difficult to stop a dog from barking when you know what they want. But there is a fine line between giving them what they need and being slowly manipulated into giving them what they want.
- Certified content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary advisor.
Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM
Dogs are adorable creatures that can basically control us humans with their puppy dog eyes, affectionate licks and sweet cuddles. We’re here to help you nip excessive barking in small dogs, but the first step is to figure out why.
The Reasons Behind the Bark
As we mentioned, getting a dog to stop barking isn’t simply voicing your dislike. Dogs operate on a different vocal spectrum and to get your dog to stop barking, you need to understand him and teach your dog a better way to express himself. We’re going to dive into some of the most common reasons why barking dogs do what they do.
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Yes, the list is extensive, and it can be hard to decipher the reason sometimes because it could be a combination of multiple reasons. However, one of the most often seen reasons is territorial barking. Marking behavior is a prevalent habit in dogs, more precisely in the males than the females. Marking is a way for dogs to “mark” their territory, in an attempt to dissuade other dogs and people to enter their realm.
Once your dog has become accustomed to your home, he will view the house or apartment as his territory. Dogs don’t go where they live/lie, so instead of marking, he will resort to barking. When you see a dog, person, car, bike, or anything else that is a living creature enter into what your dog perceives as his territory, you can expect dog barking to no end. It may start with a warning, then go into a full-out barking fit.
It’s your dog’s way of warning the opponent that he is now within his territory and he needs to fall back behind enemy lines. Some dogs might get a bit aggressive when the barking fits grow louder and louder. You might even notice the hairs on his back stand up straight.
Our dog is prone to this type of barking and takes it upon himself to be a single-canine neighborhood watch. Every day, he will make it his mission to stand guard by looking out the window and barking at everything that moves. This is a classic example of territorial barking.
+ The Solution
The solution for territorial barking is boundaries and limits. Territorial dog barking also needs to be corrected early on in case it develops into aggression. A dog who barks at individuals violating their space can be taken outside, held by you, and introduced to whatever is setting him off. In some cases, this will allow your dog to see that there is no threat, everything is ok. Maybe even have the person pet your dog and say hello, just to assure him there are no problems.
The far more effective treatment for this type of dog barking in small dogs is to limit what they see. Keep your dog away from the windows, and anything else that gives him a view of the outside world. Use film to cover the windows that will blur the surroundings but still let light in is a good example. Use solid fences and not ones with slats or holes.
The next one is protective barking, and it can be muddled with territorial barking as well. Instead of barking to defend his territory like your home, he may be barking to protect you if he senses a threat, or another serious dog barking problem is food guarding, or guarding of any kind. It can be argued that his protection of you can be considered a type of guarding, and this can often lead to aggressive behavior if not corrected. Sure, it’s very sweet that your dog loves you that much, but it can make for a huge training problem in the long run.
Using desensitization is a useful solution in this case. Desensitize him to whatever he feels he needs to protect. Don’t worry, this won’t mean he will love you any less. Don’t forget to reward your dog whenever he does something right. You can use treats to reward him or even healthy kibble formulated for small breed dogs as positive reinforcement.
If he’s scared, there has to be a reason why. It’s similar to the above, some dogs are aggressive when they are face to face with something that is in their space or encroaching on someone or something they love.
Again, desensitization is an excellent method to curb this behavior. A key to remember is not to pick your dog up when he’s scared. This is almost like reinforcing their fear and sometimes it might even fuel the fire. Take them closer to whatever it is that is making your dogs bark, and show them that it’s okay. Remember, one of the best tools to use to keep a dog from barking is treats.
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Alert barking can resemble the top three forms of barking, or it can simply be because he wants you to know something is strange or off. Depending on the type of alert barking, you may not need to stop this type of dog barking. To stop your dog from barking when he senses something strange or dangerous could be a disservice to you. After all, many guard dogs’ main job is to alert their owners of potential intruders.
As avid and passionate dog lovers, we can still say without bias that boredom barking and attention barking is among the most difficult to live with. Especially for those who are busy at home working or attending to something important. Sorry Rover, we just don’t have time to pay attention to you every minute of the day.
However, with that said, a lot of the time boredom barking can be stopped if we do our part. To stop your dog from excessive boredom barking, you need to exhaust his energy. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with your dog’s exercise routine. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog after all. Also, keep in mind not to overdo it. Depending on your dog’s age and health condition, set their exercise schedules accordingly.
Another great way to keep your dog from barking is to give him some mental stimulation. Many people don’t realize that mental stimulation is just as important as the physical one. Dog puzzles and dog treat stuffers can all help stop your dog from barking. It focuses their attention on the treat and forces them to use their brainpower to figure out how to get at the prize. As a bonus, they can also be out of your hair for a few hours when you need to get things done.
Anxiety barking is similar to scared and fearful barking, but it’s for a different reason. A clingy dog, or by the more correct name, a Velcro dog barks when its owner leaves their side. Similar to an insecure child, Velcro dogs get scared and anxious when you leave their sight or if they are left alone. This can be the toughest type of barking to break, but it’s also one of the most important reasons for training your dog. An anxious dog is no good for the dog or yourself.
The best way to treat anxiety barking is with the help of a dog behavioral specialist or trainer. It will name more time for this type of barking dogs, but make sure you stick with it. It will take time and immense patience and consistency, but after dedicated effort, you can train your dog to bark in a more healthy way and kick anxiety to the curb.
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Look at Me!! Attention Seeking
As mentioned above, attention seeking barking is also very common, but can also be very annoying. A dog who barks for your attention or because he is bored is most often in need of exercise or something to do. Again, when their energy is spent, they won’t have the will to bark and snap at you.
Never reward your dog for any type of unwanted behavior. This is why it’s so important to know when to reward him with a treat when your dog barks and when to show your discontent.
The solution for attention seeking barking is the same as boredom barking. Give your dog plenty of exercise and puzzle toys to keep him occupied. Only award favorable dog behavior and understand that there are times when your dog may go back to his old ways. Just keep reminding yourself that dogs who bark only do so for a reason.
This type of barking is heavily rooted in a dog’s personality. There are some dogs out there that never let out a peep, but a lot of smaller breeds will have a full-on conversation with you whenever they feel like it. Play barking is less of a behavioral problem, and you shouldn’t deter him when your dog barks because he’s happy or excited. He might associate his happy feeling with something negative.
Unless he is barking up a storm, the occasional excited bark can be ignored. If your dog is barking up a frenzy, you can try giving him treats when he is silent. You can figure out a code word that will eventually mean “stop barking”. Short words with single syllables are recommended and best for your dog to understand. When your dog barks, say the word until he stops, then get him a treat. Do this consistently every day and in time he will get it.
Greeting barking is also similar to play barking because your dog is excited. Dogs bark whenever they have something to express, and excitement barking is inevitable. However, to stop him from going crazy whenever a family member comes over, there are a few things you can try.
It takes two people to implement this training. Train your dog to bark only once or twice if possible, and jumping and lunging can also be curbed at the same time. For example, teach your dog to sit in a specific spot or to stay somewhere whenever someone is at the door. Don’t open the door until your dog has calmed down. Many dogs will understand this with consistent training.
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Once he has calmed down, stopped barking and responded to the training, you can open the door slightly. Your dog might move when the door is ajar, but you just have to try again. Keep with it until your dog can calmly sit and wait until the person has entered the house to say his greetings in a cool and collected way.
A Humane Alternative to Bark Collars: Ultrasonic Bark Devices
Ultrasonic bark devices are the innovative and improved method to stop dog’s barking. Stopping barking using choke collars, bark deterrents and citronella collars can be argued as inhumane. However, with ultrasonic bark collars, your pet will not be harmed and they can also be used as effective training devices. Similar to a clicker, the bark collar has the opposite effect. Your dog will associate the annoying sound emitted from the bark collar with barking, which will encourage him to be less vocal.
We understand if you would prefer conventional training options first, which is why we have also compiled a list of solutions in accordance with the cause. Just remember that there is always this last resort if all else fails.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, but always remind yourself it’s important to understand why dogs bark and not just treat the issue at hand. Dogs also communicate with each other through barking. If another dog is barking in the neighborhood, your dog might respond. In this case, there is rarely anything you can do. If your dog minds his own business and doesn’t care too much about what’s going on in another canine’s life, he may not react. However, most dog breeds will bark and say something in return.
Once you understand why your dog is barking, you can better understand how to stop the situation from happening in the first place and nip this unwanted behavior in the bud.