Dog barking, a source of frustration
The biggest problem with the domestic dog today is that of barking – incessant barking that becomes a constant source of frustration for your neighbours.
You may not even be aware that your dog is barking. You tie him up or put him in his run before you go to work and think nothing of it. That is until you come home to an irate neighbour or find a Dog Control Officer lurking around your house after he has received a complaint from one of the neighbours.
To rectify this problem we must first understand why it exists.
Understanding why your dog barks
Your dog has evolved from the wolf who is a social, pack animal. When the wolf is isolated from his pack he barks to gain attention.
When you leave your dog at home alone he is not happy at being isolated from his pack, which of course is the dog's human family. He therefore barks to gain attention because he is suffering from separation anxiety. Of course the only attention he will generally gain is from an irate neighbour.
Rectifying the barking problem
To rectify this problem you do not need a dog trainer or to do anything extravagant. This is just one of many dog problems that can be over come by looking at your dog's natural ancestral behaviour.
You need to confine your dog to a place that he considers to be his den. This will stimulate the natural place in which a wolf or wild dog would sleep.
In the wild the den usually consists of a hollowed out log or a cave in an embankment. When the dog is inside the den, he is safe, warm and dry. He is also relaxed; it is the one place where he is not anxious.
The one thing that he would never do in the den is bark. Barking advertises the position of the den to other packs who may be trying to expand their territory. It also lets predators know where the den is. Therefore you would never hear a wild dog barking in the den.
Creating your dogs happy place
The ideal place in your home to create a den would be a small room such as a laundry, office or bathroom.
Place the dog's bed in the room along with his water bowl. Have the water bowl in the room at all times so that the dog always has to enter the room voluntarily to get a drink.
More importantly, ensure that you feed the dog in that room. Make it a happy place for the dog. Make a fuss of him while you are feeding him. Command your dog to sit and stay and then feed him.
When the dog is eating, leave the room and shut the dog in there. Return ten to fifteen minutes later and release the dog. Again, make a fuss of him. The dog will then associate the den as a happy place to be. Your dog will begin to enjoy being contained in the den. He will be serene there, not anxious therefore your dog barking issue will be over.
Reinforcing the den as your dogs home
It is also a good idea to give your dog a small food reward every time that you confine him in the den, whether it be at night or when you are going to work in the morning. A bone is a great idea to reinforce the den as a happy place.
As part of your efforts to train your dog it is a good idea to get him into this routine when he is young and new to your pack.