Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guard Barking vs. Nuisance Barking...and suggestions for curbing undesirable barking!

Guard Barking vs. Nuisance Barking
...defining what's normal and what isn't

Guard Barking
 is a standard Pyr trait:
  • Great Pyrenees are guardian dogs...all guard dogs bark, especially at night That's what they are bred to do!
  • Guard barking occurs in response to noises or things that don't belong in the dog's realm.  Strangers, animals, bikes, anything "out of the ordinary" really!

If you
and the neighbors don't mind the barking, varmints, stray dogs and other undesirable critters will stay far away. 

If the barking is not acceptable...move the dog to a place where the dog feels secure.  This might be on the porch, in the basement, in the garage, in a crate or kennel...whatever works for you and your dog.

Nuisance Barking

Mostly, problem barkers bark because they are bored.  Accustomed to a lot of attention, they don't know how to behave when alone.  More often than not, we have set this up ourselves.  We want our dogs to be happy, so we spoil them:  our dogs get treats and petting whenever they wish.  It is entirely normal for owners to act this way and entirely normal for dogs to complain when they feel neglected

Identify the Proper Cause of their Barking:
Has something in your dog's environment changed?  A dog's behavior can change quickly when things around them change, and often we as humans are challenged to sense what it is that they are "seeing" that we are not.

  • "One of my Pyrs has recently started barking more, because the new neighbors behind us installed a motion light, and every time it switches on, he "switches on".  Have you tried crating the dog during times when you are not home, and also crating him perhaps when he starts barking excessively?  During the night, I close my drapes to diminish the outside stimuli which may cause him to bark more at night.  Sometimes "blocking" their visual can help." - Shannon (previous adopter)

OR...is the barking due to boredom?

Suggestions for curbing undesirable barking behavior:
  • First of all, your dog must learn that barking for your attention doesn't work. If he is unhappy outdoors and barking eventually makes you bring him in, he learns that barking gets results. If barking makes you yell at him, well, that's better than nothing. "I'm bored. Maybe I can get them to yell at me again." Although yelling doesn't work, negative reinforcement can still be useful. Perhaps a little story will help explain:

    "As a veterinary student, I lived in the basement of an animal hospital. We did a lot of boarding, and there were occasionally dogs that barked at night. These dogs were warm and well-fed, with plenty of water.  Their kennels were clean and dry. All they lacked was entertainment. I quickly learned that hollering "quiet" was useless. Here is what worked: I'd put a little water in a Dixie Cup and quietly stand in front of the barker, not saying a word. Within a minute or two the dog would bark again, whereupon I'd immediately dash the water in his face, turn around and go back to bed, all without saying a word. I'd usually have to do this two or three times the first night, once or twice the second night and maybe even once the night after that. Nearly always after the second or third night, peace and quiet."

    "Quiet" repeated calmly and clearly once or twice in a normal voice will teach your dog to associate the word with water in the face and with not barking. Later, in situations where he would ordinarily bark but stays quiet instead, calmly praise him. 
    • A change in environment may help. You could put him at a friend's house for an afternoon or two to vary his routine, often relieving their boredom.
    • Some find that using a squirt gun/water bottle can help.  Never squirt them in the face, but often a squirt to their hindquarters when they bark undesirably. 
    • When owners feel like they have tried/done everything, then a trainer is often a great suggestion.

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