Have you ever felt the urge to kick or whack a neighborhood dog to kingdom come due to its loud, incessant and irritating barks?
I used to. As a matter of fact, there was a time when scooping rocks was SOP for me everytime I walked the streets in our place which appeared to have been invaded by a particularly nasty and noisy group of dogs that probably came aboard a UFO.
Yes, I used to fling rocks at every barking dog I saw. There was even a time when I got so pissed that I madly screamed at the dogs and challenged the owners to stop their dogs or else … I would run for dear life.
But that was before, when I didn’t know any better. Now I know it’s useless to rage against a barking dog. After putting my feet in a dog’s hoofs, I realize that barking is part of a dog’s life. A dog who doesn’t bark is like a policeman with no whistle.
In the first place, barking is what attracted early humans to dogs. In the early days, dogs in camps and settlements kept the group safe by alerting humans to potential predators — whether human or animal.
They still do. Dogs let us know when someone is at our door or approaching our property.
But problems develop when dogs have pent-up energy, are anxious, become overexcited, or are unsure of their role in the house. So sometimes their barking can get out of control.
Having realized this, I now walk the streets confidently even if the alien-looking dogs in the neighborhood continue their “arf, arf arf” every time I leave the house. Instead of getting angry, I tell them “Oh, merry Christmas, too! Thank you, for greeting me ‘good morning.’ Oh, that was nice of you to wish me well. Oh, same to you good doggie, God bless you, too.”
Cesar Millan, who calls himself a dog whisperer but who actually is an expert dog handler (he was probably a German Shepherd in his previous life), has some bits of advice for owners of dogs that is afflicted with uncontrollable or obsessive barking.
Millan says if you give your dog a look, a sound, or a physical correction to tell him to stop his barking, he might stop for an instant. But after you relax, the dog might resume barking as if he’s singing in a karaoke bar. The dog’s body relaxes, but his brain stays on alert. So be patient, Millan says. His advice: Wait until your dog gives you complete and total submission before you go back to what you were doing.
Many people get so irritated with the constant barking that their own frustration level rises, Millan says. While this is understandable, you can’t expect your dog to follow you. Animals simply don’t follow anxious, angry, or frustrated leaders. Instead your dog will mirror your energy. If you’re frustrated, then he’s frustrated, and when he’s frustrated, it makes sense for him to bark, he explains. His advice: To effectively correct your dog, you need to control your own frustration first.
Make your claim
If your dog is barking repeatedly in the presence of a specific stimulus, it’s important to let the dog know that you “own” that object, person, situation, or place. Use your calm-assertive energy to make your claim, Millan says.
Exercise your dog
Often dogs develop problem barking as a result of pent-up energy. So make sure your dog has the right amount of exercise for his energy level. Your dog should be relaxed, calm, and submissive before you put him in a situation that’s likely to trigger barking, according to Millan.