Barking is a part of normal doggy life. While there are some dogs that just bark now and then, barking can become a problem when the dog barks too much, too loudly or when it is accompanied by other undesirable behaviors.
Training and management can help improve the behavior, but, unless you have a basenji, your dog may always bark.
Finding a solution for problem barking depends on understanding just what type of barking your dog is doing.
In “The Bark Stops Here,” Terry Ryan groups barkers into six broad classifications:
Attention-seeking barkers. Characterized by a bark that is high in pitch and accompanied by pauses and moments when the dog looks around and listens for a response from anyone. ASBs are not picky about who they get attention from.
Territorial barkers: Characterized by a low-pitched, intense burst of barking. This kind of barking is usually startling and short lived. It is accompanied by a distinct body posture: the tail is up, the ears and the corners of the mouth are forward, the stance is tall and forward on toes, the hackles are up, and the nose is wrinkled. Territorial barkers initiate barking when a perceived threat enters into the dog’s imagined territory. (Remember – the dog defines his territory, not you.)
Boredom barkers: Characterized by a flat boring bark with occasional howling directed at nothing. This kind of barking is repetitive in nature and is usually of medium pitch.
Fearful barkers: Characterized by sharp, high-pitched barking accompanied by a distinct body posture in which the dog’s tail is tucked between her legs, the hackles are up, the pupils are dilated, the nose is wrinkled and the corners of the mouth are back. Barking is initiated by a perceived threat coming close to the dog and is designed to increase the distance between the threat and the dog.
Excitement barkers: Characterized by high-pitched barking, accompanied by a great deal of continuous movement, a wagging tail, and variable intensity.
Separation anxiety barkers: Characterized by high-pitched frantic barking, and accompanied by pacing, drooling, whining, scratching, chewing, and howling.
In Part 2, we’ll discuss solutions for problem barking.
Jaime Migdal is the founder and CEO of Fetchfind, a talent recruitment and services organization dedicated to the pet industry.