The incessant volleys of yips, woofs and whines of dogs when left alone can be a big problem for any dog owner and even the neighbours, except if you live in a detached house in the countryside. All dogs bark as way to communicate with their owners but a dog that barks continuously can cause so much trouble. To get your dog to stop barking when left alone, you have to first discover what triggers the reaction so you can address the situation effectively.
Here are some common reasons dogs bark:
- Attention seeking/demand
- Play barking
- Separation distress
Now that we’ve identified the factors that could be causing your dog to be especially vocal when left alone, here are some to tips to get them to stop.
1. Mask the sounds
Generally, most dogs bark when startled as a reaction to sounds they’re hearing. The solution here is to control the environment so you can limit their exposure to things that get their attention, and a good way to do that is to mask the noise with other sounds. For example, you could use a fan, a radio, a t.v. or a white noise machine to help your canine relax and lower their stress levels.
If you live in an apartment and share walls with others, covering up the sound of what’s going on outside can help keep your dog calm which in turns prevents frequent barking.
2. Use sight barriers
Another way to solve your dog’s barking problems via environmental management is to block your pooch’s sight-line to potential barking triggers. This solution is ideal for dogs that are territorial/alarm/defence barkers as it aids to prevent visual stimulation which can trigger your dog.
For outdoors, you can cut off visual access by using private fencing or privacy hedges in the garden. If your dog stays indoors, you can leave the curtains closed or close the blinds. Alternatively, you can use place removable plastic films which allows light in but make the windows opaque. Be sure to place the window film a few inches above your dog’s line of sight to reduce the chances of visual stimulation.
3. Use treats and toys
As you leave the house, give your dog a chew-toy that has your scent on it to keep him busy. This can help distract your pooch as you leave and also keep him calm since the toy has your scent on it. The toy could be a stuffed Kong toy or a safe chew bone stuffed with cheese spread or peanut butter (without xylitol), but what counts is that the toys will keep their mouth occupied with something aside from barking. Interactive treat toys are also a great way of keeping their minds busy.
Similarly, give your dog treats as a way of rewarding him for not barking. If he hears a noise from outside or doesn’t bark when you’re out of sight, praise him and give him a treat. Rewarding your dog is an excellent way of getting him to associate his refusal to react with something positive.
4. Create a quiet zone
A dog that suffers from separation anxiety shouldn’t be allowed to move freely at home, so create a quiet zone for them in the house where they can be when you aren’t at home. Ideally, the spot should be the quietest part of the house like a back bedroom, utility room or space. You can include a dog crate with comfortable bedding for them, and don’t forget to leave some food and water for them too.
5. Uses exercises
Some dog breeds like retrievers, pointers, setters and collies were originally used to work all day and they tend to become restless if they’re under-exercised. They need to be kept busy or they might resort to barking due to boredom. Experiment with different dog exercises to discover the ones that come close to tiring your pooch out. A panting, utterly exhausted dog will be too tired out to waste his remaining energy barking.
6. Hire A Dog Walker
Hire a dog walker if you are out at work all day to tire your dog out and to break up his day.
All in All
If you have applied all the tips above and still can’t seem to get your dog to stop barking, you might need extra help from a dog trainer/behaviourist. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Get in touch with your local Scamps and Champs Branch here to discuss your pets needs.