This is not a topic I thought I would be writing about. I have actually had to teach my dog to bark when someone comes to the door! Fortunately, I have great neighbors who understand when I come to the door barking and my dog is just watching me. These neighbors are so understanding they allow me to shut the door and ask them to knock again – sometimes two or three more times. I do not know how it happens, but there comes a time when someone knocks and my dog barks like a maniac and races to find me.
This type of barking is usually thought of as Territorial/Protective Barking. When a person or an animal comes into an area your dog considers his territory, that triggers barking.
Alarm/Fear Barking is when a dog barks at any noise or object that catches their attention or startles them. This can happen anywhere not just in their home territory.
Boredom/Loneliness Barking happens when a dog is left alone for long periods of time whether in the house or in the yard. They can become bored or sad and often will bark because they are unhappy.
Greeting/Play Barking is usually a happy bark, accompanied with tail wagging and sometimes jumping.
Attention Seeking Barking happens when dogs want something, such as going outside, playing or getting a treat.
Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking occurs in dogs with separation anxiety when left alone.
I am going to the Bernese Mountain Dog National Specialty soon and will be staying in a hotel with my dog. The same dog who use to never bark now barks when I leave a hotel room. He is almost always with me but there are times when I want to get ice or go to breakfast and he must stay in the room alone.
We have been working on the word “Quiet.” First this was hard for me to teach because the only time he barks at my home is when there is someone at the door, and I like this behavior and want it to continue. And, I do not want to spend money on a hotel room just to teach this behavior.
I do not want to use treats if I am going to be gone for a short period of time, so I started adding the word quiet.
What I have also done is put him in situations that might cause him some anxiety. For example, he is very food motivated, and I do not mind him following me to the refrigerator. So asking him to wait in another room while I go in the kitchen was a huge deal for several weeks. As I left the room I would give him a morrow bone that I had filled with peanut butter or cheese. My trips to the kitchen were initially followed, so I reentered the room he was in or stood in the doorway until I saw a little relaxation.
I found this web site to be very good at explaining the different reasons dogs bark and how to treat excessive barking. http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/understanding-why-dogs-bark
There is probably more information here than you will get most 4-H’ers or their families to read, but hopefully you will gain some ideas to help them. Oh and by the way, I do not follow all of the recommendations – I enjoy my dog greeting me at the door when I come home and will miss him jumping to hug me when he is too old to do so.
Do you have a dog that barks a lot, or do you have a 4-H’er with a barking dog? If so, you know how stressful this can be for the dog, the child and all around if a dog continually barks.
Until the next post remember: Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human.