The first thing you need to do in order to quiet a chronic barker is to figure out why he's barking in the first place. Is he lonely or bored? Do you spend enough time with him? Remember that dogs are pack animals and prefer the company of other animals and/or humans.
Most dogs will not be happy sitting by themselves in the backyard with nothing to do (except bark!) Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to occupy his mind and his need to chew. And make sure you spend quality time with him. Take him for walks and bring him inside the house everyday for some "family" time. Dogs really love being with their people!
If your dog barks at night, bring him inside the house or garage. Most dogs prefer sleeping inside anyway (remember, dogs are not solitary creatures by nature.) Relocating your dog away from immediate neighbors to another area of your yard might eliminate barking. Another good solution is to adopt another animal so your dog will have a companion.
Bark collars are a wonderful tool in training your dog not to bark. They can be purchased at pet stores or can be ordered online for a lower price. These new age collars do not hurt your dog in any way, they simply reprimand the bark. This may startle your dog at first but after a few times they associate the reprimand with the bark and learn to do their everyday activities without barking.
In extreme cases, you might consider having your dog "de-barked." De-barking is a procedure in which the vocal cords are surgically removed. In most cases, the dog will come home the day of the procedure. The barking sound will still be audible but will be more like a whisper. Consult your veterinarian for more information about de-barking.
Barking is the number one cause of neighbor disputes. Remember, it is unlawful to allow your dog to become a public nuisance. Chronic barking is a serious problem but there are many possible solutions. Investing some time, money, and energy to solving the problem will be well worth the effort, for you and your dog!
House training is one of the most important steps in your puppy’s training. (Keep in mind that house training a puppy involves different techniques from those used to train an adult dog.)
Obviously, if your puppy doesn’t learn where he is supposed to relieve himself, he’ll never be welcomed as a full-fledged member of the family. And, if you fail to establish your authority at this kindergarten stage of his training, you’re going to have a very hard time ever convincing your dog that you’re the head of the household.
Start by thinking positively. To house train a dog is to teach a dog to relieve himself outside the house. It is not to teach him that you become angry when he relieves himself indoors.
When to begin:
The best time to introduce your pup to the rules of personal conduct is when he’s about seven weeks old. This has been proven an ideal time to start basic obedience that will last his lifetime.
How to put his body on schedule:
Although it seems that a young pup is in a constant state of elimination, his body functions are fairly predictable. He feels the urge to relieve himself after he wakes up, after he eats, and after he plays. If you schedule these activities, you’ll know when to take him outside.
First thing in the morning, take the pup for a walk. Don’t let the walk turn into an outdoor play period. At this point in his life, there’s only one reason for the puppy to be outside. When he does what you took him outside to do, praise him lavishly, love him enthusiastically–but get him back into the house quickly.
A 7-week-old pup should be getting three meals a day. It’s important that you schedule these meals at a time that’s convenient for you so you won’t be forced to alter the routine from day to day. Allow the puppy just 10 or 15 minutes to eat his meal. If he loses interest in his food in less time, assume he’s full and take his dish away. Then take him for another walk. When the mission is accomplished, praise him and bring him back inside.
You’ll have to repeat this same routine with each meal. The purpose is to train the puppy’s body to operate according to your schedule. A secondary benefit is that the dog will learn to eat when he’s fed and that his food isn’t going to be left out for him to nibble whenever he feels like it. Naturally, between meals there are going to be times when the puppy will have to go out. If he starts acting nervous and sniffs around, he’s signaling for an outing.
You can’t be with the puppy all the time, of course; when he’s not under a watchful eye, he should be confined. While restricting his area of activity first appears to be a convenient method of limiting the area he can accidentally damage, the motive goes deeper. No dog will willingly soil his own sleeping quarters. You’ll be capitalizing on this instinct by limiting his area to one just big enough for him to sleep and play in without feeling trapped. A dog crate is great for this. Let the puppy out of the crate every 2-3 hours. Make sure to keep track of the time. (Using a timer will help prevent mistakes.) Don’t, however, fall into the trap of letting the puppy out of the crate every time he cries. If you do, you will be teaching him to cry when he wants out (i.e., “crying means they let me out of the crate,” in the dog’s mind.)
A well-trained dog is a joy to live with. The extra effort you take now to train your puppy will give you a lifetime of pleasure with your new friend.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs. They use their mouths to explore the environment in the same way humans use their hands as investigative tools. Dogs need to chew to relieve stress and excess energy. In fact, puppy teething is a natural part of development.
Make sure your dog has plenty of chew toys. (Don’t give your dog household items such as old shoes to chew on, because that might encourage him to also chew on new shoes!) Lonely dogs that are left alone for long periods of time in a non-stimulating environment chew out of boredom.
When you must leave your dog alone, the best remedy for chewing the wrong thing is to confine him to a crate or wire kennel while you are away. (Obviously, the dog should not remain in the crate for hours on end for the rest of his life!) The crate is a training tool.
For the first two weeks of training, do not allow your dog any unsupervised time by himself. Put him in his crate each and every time that he is left alone. Do not give him the opportunity to chew a forbidden object, dig, or become destructive without receiving correction.
Starting with the third week, put the dog in his crate with the door open and leave for about twenty minutes. If you return home to any signs of destruction, shorten the length of time that you are gone until you arrive at a time span that is successful. From that point on, SLOWLY increase the length of time you are gone until you have reached your goal. If at any time you come home to destruction, go backward in time at least two steps and maintain that time frame for at least a week; then continue training.
Excellent results also have been obtained by using the following exercise to reorient a dog’s chewing habits: Take away all of the dog’s former chewies, and replace them with a meat-scented nylon bone. Make this bone the focus of a fetch and play session at least twice a day. The combination of the owner’s scent with the meat scent makes it an appealing object on which to chew. Since the toy bone has now become the focus of intense interaction between the dog and owner, the vast majority of dogs will aim their chewing at it.
Puppies go through a teething period at about three months of age, when the sharp little milk teeth begin to loosen and fall out. New, larger adult teeth cut through the gums and replace the baby teeth. At 6-7 months of age the transition is complete and a set of new teeth are ready for action. Teething is painful and the pup wants to chew and gnaw to relieve his discomfort. Give the pup two or three toys to chew.
Also, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Under-exercised dogs will be more likely to chew and otherwise engage in destructive behavior when you are gone for extended periods.
For some dogs, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. What can you do to keep your dog at home?
Dogs escape because they are bored. It takes more than a good fence to hold a restless dog—it takes an interesting home life with outlets for mental and physical energy. Keep the toy box interesting by rotating your dog toy supply so different ones appear every few days.
Hormones are a MAJOR cause of escapes. When female dogs are in season, they release a scent that invites intact males to hop the fence. Get rid of hormones by spaying or neutering your pets.
Lack of exercise also leads a dog to search for adventure. Give your dog at least one of the following every day: two one-hour walks; half-hour to one-hour run; one half hour game of fetch; one hour of play with another dog; half-hour to one-hour obedience training.
- Make sure gates and fences are secure.
- Backfill with dog excrement (topped with clean dirt) all holes dug near the fence line. Most dogs won’t dig through their own feces.
- Put a strand of electric pet fencing at the top of your fence for jumpers and climbers or at the bottom for diggers.
- For climbers and jumpers, an anti-jump harness allows the dog to walk around freely, but not jump or climb.
- Block your dog’s view if action on the other side of the fence is the cause for the escaping.
When a dog is left alone he may become uncomfortable, stressed-out, or confused. (After all, members of dog packs usually don’t get left behind.)
When a dog becomes anxious he barks, paces, grooms himself endlessly, chews, gnaws, marks territory, and/or digs furiously. Sustained anxiety produces metabolic waste; the dog has to “go” more frequently. The urine is pale; the stool is soft or runny. These are not housebreaking accidents; the stressed-out dog can’t “hold it.” True separation anxiety is typically seen in dogs that have been passed around from home to home or rescued from a shelter or the street.
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety need to be left in a cozy area of the home, small enough so the dog can’t pace and dog-proofed so that nothing can be accidentally damaged. If you don’t have such an area, use a kennel crate. That’s what they are for! Many dogs prefer to curl up in a tight dark den. The kennel or dog-proofed area will serve as your dog’s substitute den.
Minimize the Separation Blues:
Exercise your dog thoroughly before leaving. - An exhausted dog doesn’t have much energy left to invest in chronic barking, digging, or trashing the house. He would rather sack out.
Keep the dog in his designated area - When you are unable to supervise him. Practice leaving him in his crate or other designated area at first, even when you are home. Start by leaving him alone for five minutes several times a day. Gradually increase the time he is alone until you can leave him for two hours at a stretch. You are teaching him to stay alone when you do have to leave. Correct any unwanted barking or destructiveness, but do not let him out of the crate unless he is calm and quiet.
Keep the curtains and/or shades drawn. - A dimly lit environment has a calming effect on most dogs.
Leave a radio or TV on as “white noise.” - This will not only mask outside noises but also give the aural appearance of your presence.
Supply your dog with an ‘ONLY WHEN I’M GONE’ chew toy with your scent imprinted on it. - Rub it between your warm palms. Give it to him as you depart and remove it immediately upon your return.
Leave matter-of-factly. - Put on your coat, pick up your keys and give the dog his chewy and leave with a simple “see ya later.” You do not want to emotionally charge an already loaded situation by smothering, hugging, and kissing.
If you come home to destruction - Do not discipline the dog unless you have walked in and caught him in the act of misbehaving.
Consult a dog behaviorist or veterinarian - If your dog makes little or no progress after a week or so, or if the stress is so great that the dog it panting and heaving, salivating, vomiting, trembling uncontrollably or exhibits extreme escape behavior such as tearing at the door, jumping at/through the window, or digging up flooring.
Use time buffers. - Studies have shown that most dogs are at their destructive worst 20 minutes after you leave (when they realize they will be left without you for a while) and 20 minutes before you return (when they are excited about seeing your you again). Time buffers teach your dog to remain unemotional when you first leave or return home. Fifteen minutes before you need to leave put your dog in his designated space and ignore him. Do correct any destructive behavior or barking, but do not play with him or talk to him other than to correct misbehavior. Do just the opposite when you return. Leave him where he is confined (or ignore him if he is loose in the house) for 15 minutes before greeting him. This will teach him that there is a cooling off period before he will be greeted.
Although it might seem cruel to ignore your dog when he is so obviously happy to see you, behaviorists recommend this method when you are having a lot of destructive behavior.