By Marli Naidoo
There are many reasons why some dogs bark excessively.
Some dog-breeds bark more than others. Don’t choose a guard dog if you don’t want him to bark.
Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are inclined to bark more.
Too little stimulation can cause your dog to become bored. When dogs are left alone the entire day, they can start missing you, become bored and start barking endlessly.
Dogs in general are excitable creatures. When you play with them, they can bark playfully. After all, this is their way of speaking. Dogs communicate through barking, moaning and crying. It is not fair to stop them completely when they want to chat. However, they shouldn’t do so excessively.
Dogs can be like children when they don’t receive enough attention, and will make a noise to attract your attention. Some dogs, however, are real gluttons for attention, and just cannot get enough.
They can also feel they are responsible for protecting their area (your property).
Fortunately there is help. With patience and perseverance you can help your dog not to bark at everything. To shout won’t solve anything. Your dog will think you are barking along with him! Don’t punish him when he is trying to communicate in his way.
See to it that your dog gets enough exercise. Even if you have a large yard, you still need to take him for a daily walk. Do so for an hour every day, throw him a ball, fill a cool drink bottle with goodies and make holes in the bottle. He will enjoy prizing the snacks out of the bottle. He should be stimulated continuously, and be too exhausted to even think about barking unnecessarily. You could have him wear a weighted outfit during your walk. This will make him extra tired.
Remove the motivation. If your dog barks at everyone walking past your gate, you could erect an obstruction so that he cannot see passers-by. You could for example cover the gate with dense shadow-netting. You could also keep him with you in the home. He will in any case be happier to be close to you.
Ignore your dog when he barks. As soon as he stops, you can give him a reward. Continue to do so, and he will soon realise that it is to his advantage to not bark all the time.
The following method may sound strange, but first teach your dog to bark on demand. Order him to “talk”, and when he barks, give him a treat to smell and then to eat. When he has become used to bark on demand, you can add the following order: “Be quiet”. When he then stops barking, it’s time once again for a tasty reward. Initially practise this technique in a quiet and peaceful area. With time you can add distractions, such as having your children close by, or practising near the gate. Keep on practising until he obeys when you order him to be quiet.
Be patience and consistent. With enough rewards and time, you can keep your relationship with your dog and with your neighbours intact.
Bernice Jaffe Animal Behaviourist: https://www.bernicejaffe.co.za/barking.html
Humane Society: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/how-get-your-dog-stop-barking