One of the things I’ve noticed since being at home because of the lockdown, is that I seem to be surrounded by a barking dog at every angle.
And to my horror, sometimes it is Frank that is setting them all off barking. Thanks Frank.
Too be fair as I’m walking round that is sometimes all that is needed to set some dogs off. I can always hear when the postman is approaching too. Bark, bark, woof woof. Yep that postie has his own personal calling card.
I live next door to a beagle. He seems to be fine, except for his penchant for howling. I know it’s a breed thing, but he only does it at night, usually around 11pm. Which is annoying as it sounds, let me tell you.
The thing is I’m quite a relaxed neighbour and I let that go because it’s not incessant barking. It’s just the one howl (takes me back to reading 101 dalmatians as a child and the howling hour!) But if that dog was to repeatedly bark when she was, out or all the time in the garden, then I would say something because it would be impacting on me.
And you may well have a barker, and you may even be quite accepting of your dog’s barking. It’s their breed, oh he is quiet inside, she doesn’t like men, he doesn’t like the postman or even she’s ok. But is it really ok to leave a dog barking?
Some bark out of boredom, others out of fear. But with time on our hand, now is the perfect opportunity to start working towards resolving that barking problem.
So, I got hold of my good friend and barking specialist Claire and put some of your questions about barking dogs to her.
Barking dog Q & A with Claire Lawrence
1) Since lockdown my dog has started barking in the house but not outside. Why are they barking and what can I do about it?
You’re not alone! Even my dogs have been testing barking in the house and here’s a couple of reasons why it could be happening.
Attention. With more people around and interactions to be had, dogs (especially more barky breeds) can learn to use barking as a secret weapon to get that eye contact from you. That’s all it takes to tell them its worked! If your dog is barking and it’s in your direction, chances are its attention based.
Most attention seeking barking comes down to a lack of mental stimulation. So increase those sniffing games and make sure your dog is having some down time away from you throughout the day when you’d normally be at work.
Has it really just started? Or have they been alert barking to things passing your front window for longer than you’ve realised? Dog who bark out of the window are normally either alerting you to a potential threat they’ve spotted. Or perhaps they’re bored and find the barking at things fun to do.
The best thing to start doing with either of these is to prevent your dog from being able to see out of the window/where they’re barking. Again teach them to come into that room and lie down in their bed or perform another behaviour you deem acceptable.
2) My dog has always been a barker, and I’ve worked really hard on minimise this. I’m really concerned about that all going to pot when lockdown is over and the world and its wife are out and all our good work is going to be gone. What can I do to minimise that?
Depending on why the barking was/is happening will determine the best approach to take. All I can really say here is if what you were doing before the lockdown was working to reduce or at least manage the barking, then I’d say to continue doing what you were doing. If at any point it starts getting work, don’t hesitate in seeking out a trainer. This will dramatically increase your chances of it not escalating with the right professional.
3) Now I’m home all day and the weather has been nice my dog has turned into a barking maniac. He starts barking at other dogs in the garden, which sets off all the other dogs in their gardens. I don’t want to keep the door shut in the nice weather, but I don’t want to be responsible for the barking hour either. What can I do?
I can understand not wanting to shut the doors to the garden, but in which case I’d recommend moving your dog into a room where he can’t go in and out at his own leisure. Otherwise the barking will escalate.
I would recommend that when your dog needs to go out, you pop his lead on before you go out, give him a treat and show him you’ve got some more. Go outside with him and keep his attention on you. Rewarding and telling him he’s doing a great job keeping his focus on you, opposed to the distractions.
4) My dog is barking more and more for my attention now I’m home. I try to ignore her. I take her to her bed without interacting too much. When she stops barking, I will try and give her something to do like a kong. However, it’s not working. I need about 50 kongs to keep her quiet.
I’m afraid even taking her to the bed has already highly likely rewarded this attention barking behaviour. Keep a diary for a week of what times, and when she kicks off barking at you. Then you will start to see some patterns which can aid in your following weeks training of getting the Kong or treat training time in before she starts barking.
There are usually clear signs or what we call ‘triggers’ that are encouraging her to bark.
5) My dog is a big barker. Now I’ve got some time on my hands I want to see if I can get his barking under control. What’s the best place to start?
Firstly, I wish I read many more of these statements. Lockdown has pretty much given us a barking dog training gift. If you aren’t using this time to put extra work into helping your dog with their barking issue, you’ll have missed a massive trick.
Start with your treats, toys and relationship building. Get your dog to have all eyes on you with whatever it takes reward wise to get there. Start in a low distraction environment and build it up week by week.
I’d also be being modest if I didn’t say to check out more of what I offer. So, be sure to take a look at the three barking dog books I’ve written. I also host a weekly podcast show with a sh*t tonne of information in relevant to barking dogs. Find out more here.
Claire Lawrence is an ADTI SCDP Dog Training Instructor, author of books ‘3 Steps To Silence’ and ‘You’d Be Barking Mad Not To!’, UK events speaker and winner of ‘IMPACT’ Pet Business Of The Year Award 2019.
If you would like to hear more from Claire, then book a ticket to her 3 Steps to Silence Barking Dog seminar. Claire will be delivering this seminar in Haverhill, Suffolk on Saturday 12th September this year!
Sally Cousins is a self confessed mad dog lady!
After being mum to several rescue dogs she decided to turn her passion in to her career and set up her own dog walking business back in 2015.
Sally not only runs her business, she also writes for her own blog and also does guest blogs for other dog businesses. Sally is also the author of “The Lockdown Dog.” You can also find Sally chatting as a guest on dog related podcasts.