My neighbor's dogs barked all night-close enough and loud enough to keep me awake. Because last night had a full moon, the coyotes were out and disturbing the neighborhood dogs with their yapping and howling. My dogs also barked when they first heard the nearby coyotes, but after I commanded them to be quiet, they stopped. My neighbor's never quiet their pack of dogs-I don't know how anyone could sleep that deep and it makes me mad and jealous at the same time.
As I thought about the all night barking, it was obvious that even though dogs may start their barking for a good reason sometimes, when it is out of control it is a problem just like any other form of barking.I felt like the owners were at least as much at fault as their dogs-if not more-for not correcting the problem.
So, even though there are some good reasons for dogs to bark, it is up to us as their owners to make sure we control the barking so it does not become a problem behavior. There are some very good reasons my dogs will bark, and I would not want to change that.
Here area some examples of acceptable reasons your dog may start to bark. These types of “good barking” examples are just forms of normal communication and are not caused by any behavioral issues that your dog may have.
- The most obvious good reason your dog will bark is when he wants to warn you that something (maybe another dog or a stranger) is approaching. This type of warning is something you want to have from your dog, and so you will not want to discourage it. Given that, you should still be able to quiet him with a command to stop. For example, when someone parks in front of your house, and your dog warns you about it, you should be able to quiet him once you see the visitor is not a threat. On the other hand, if it is someone you want to discourage from coming onto your property (for example,maybe some over-zealous religious types), well then, you can let the barking continue a little longer. Protection barking is “good barking”-just make sure you can always control and stop the barking quickly with a command. If your dog is barking for a variety of other reasons, those are barking problems needing correction.
- A dog will bark when he is very happy and excited about something that is going on. When I play with my dogs, they bark at me and at each other-but all in fun. That is just the dog's way of saying he is having a great time, and wants more of the same. When we are playing I only will quiet them down in the case of one of them getting a little carried away with the excitement. If the barking is just sporadic and playful that is cool with me, but if one of them gets stuck on “bark” then I have to do something about it. Don't let one of your dogs get into continuous barking while playing, or that could reinforce a bad habit of barking too much.
- Many dogs will bark upon your arrival home. This type of excitement barking is typical, and not a problem if it is limited to a few greeting barks. I like to be greeted at the gate by my dogs, and I don't mind a couple greeting barks at all. It would be a problem if the dogs got over-excited and didn't stop their barking at the gate. That puts this behavior onto the unacceptable list because the dog doesn't immediately stop barking after saying “Hi”.
- When my Lab wants to play with me, she will come over and give me a bark. If they continue barking at you to play, they are actually bullying you in a way. I know because I used to be a sucker for this with my Lab, and she had me well trained to play ball with her whenever she wanted. this is not a good thing, because as the Alpha dog, you must be the one to decide when playtime starts, not the dog. If your dog does not see you as the boss of the relationship, all your training attempts will be made very difficult. You have to be the Alpha dog in the relationship between you and your dog, so don't let your dog's invitation to play become a bullying act.
I think you'd agree the above barking behaviors are not troublesome-unless they are out of control. But, except for these few, the majority of other reasons dogs bark too much should be corrected.
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