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My dog is barking excessively - what can I do?
Dogs bark excessively for numerous reasons including boredom, excitement, distress, territorial defence and fear and anxiety. Therefore the solutions to problem barking differ from one dog to the next. Remember that some barking is normal as a way of communicating.
In the first instance we recommend that you talk to your veterinarian who can refer you to a reward-based veterinary behaviourist who can help to determine the underlying cause of the barking and then develop a tailor-made treatment plan for your dog. You can also contact your local RSPCA for advice. Treatment usually involves behavioural modification training. In some rare cases the use of veterinary medications in combination with behavioural modification may be required. Behaviour specialists tend to ask owners a lot of questions and may offer to come out to the house to observe your dog in its own environment in order to identify barking ‘triggers’. Triggers may include seeing or hearing a person walking past or the neighbours dog.
Training should be reward based and use positive reinforcement. That is, reward ‘good’ behaviour – when the dog is quiet give a food treat or a pat on the head and avoid rewarding ‘unwanted’ behaviour – when the dog barks ignore the behaviour. Training should not involve punishment which tends to exacerbate the barking problem.
Please see the attached information sheet for specific training tips for excessive barking.
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