Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ask Lola : Barking Mad - How to Tame a Chronic Dog Barker

Dear Lola: My dog is going bonkers, barking and jumping off the wall. Fire sirens, arrival of the mailman, neighbors bringing over a welcome casserole, and even going to vet causes him to act hyper and nervous. What can I do to calm my dog and stop him from being a chronic barker? Sending my dog to the corner for a time out does not seem to be doing the trick. I am afraid that my dogs excessive barking will send the neighbors packing up their Uhaul and have people saying, “BEWARE of the women with the barking mad dog!”

Sincerely, BARKING MAD

DEAR BARKING MAD: There are many things dog are good at and the list is extensive. Dogs are experts at eating, sniffing butts, sleeping, burying bones, getting dirty, fetching and reading the daily pee-mails. Not to mention having a ph.D in barking up a storm, no dog is immune to this behavior. Let's face it, dogs by nature bark and howl. Unfortunately dogs don't understand the meaning of using your library voice and unlike humans weren't born with a mute or pause button. Although barking is a part of being a dog no one likes to hear the incessant barking of the dog next door. Ruckus from your roaring dog would alarm neighbors, napping relatives and make anyone crazy only to put the whole neighborhood in an uproar.

Even the most sane person may be tempted to admit him or herself in an insane asylum for some peace and quiet. I've coined the phrase "barking dogs don't make good neighbors", especially ones that bark through out the night. Barking dogs can cause neighborhood feuds not even a plate of fresh baked cookies or state of the art ear plugs can't mend.

But like any dog, I myself get very excited when a mailman or visitor knocks on the door and can’t help but to bark out woofs of joy. One may say that I graduated at the top of my class with a "bark-laureate" with an emphasis in public speaking. But I have come to learn the hard way from my parents loving discipline that continued barking is not proper doggy etiquette 101. Although I can be quite opinionated, being a dog I have learned that sometimes it is best to be quiet, especially when a treat is whiffed in front of my face. Lucky for me my blog column gives me a relaxing time out from pointless, incessant barking.

It is so tempting to react to your dogs irritating barking with a bark of your own, but remember this does not help the situation but makes it worse. The better you understand how he experiences the world, the less likely you will become frustrated and angry. Well, seeing as though there is not a doggy manual to translate, your official Dog Whisperer (me) is to the rescue! The first step in obtaining peace and quiet is to realize that lots of barking can be caused by the dog being lonely, bored, frustrated or frightened. Getting to the root of the barking is half the battle, then you can try to change the behavior. There are many categories of barking such as:

  • Alert barking. Dog barks to let you know he has seen or heard something out of the ordinary.
  • Defensive barking. Dog barks to make something he is afraid of or doesn't like go away.
  • Attention barking. Dog wants attention.
  • Frustration barking. Dog is confused, frustrated, or stressed.
  • Boredom barking. Dog barks to amuse himself.

Some dogs bark due to separation anxiety and misses your companionship. So keep in mind that your dogs barking can mean a lot of things. Perhaps, they want to go to the potty, hunger for a treat and thirst for H2O, want to play fetch or go to the dog park. Sometimes all it takes is meeting these needs to put your dog on momentary mute. Dogs are social creatures and need a good meet and sniff on a daily bases. Often times barking will occur if a dog is confined all day in the backyard alone with no social interaction. Sadly, barking can become a hobby to occupy their time and anxious appetite for a good romp and play. So, make sure you take your dog to the park for a good game of fetch or chase the squirrels.

Often times a dogs keen sense of hearing and sight can get him in trouble. Before ADT, fire alarms, and doorbells there were dogs! Your dog may see, sense or hear a stranger or unwanted intruder approaching and sends out a loud siren bark to alert you. Perhaps, your dog sees the neighbors dog walking by or that taunting alley cat loitering on your front lawn (their territory). Closing the shades does work wonders to take away your dogs motivation to bark, but consistent training goes a long way.

It is important that if you are training your dog to stop barking that you immediately praise the dog and give treats because positive reinforcement works wonders. Just ask my parents, they praise me when there is a visitor and I behave and sit quietly. With all this praise and affirmation "good dog" behavior comes naturally. But that does not mean I don't get into mischief, I have been caught many times with my hands in the biscuit jar!

But sometimes even the most well-trained & praised dog needs helps curbing their barking habit. So, there is no need for you and your neighbors to lose sleep over it. Although a squirt bottle filled with tap water is a good and natural barking deterrent. There are other all natural alternatives out their that not only quiet a barking dog but can help calm a nervous, fidgety, restless or over anxious pup. One of the products I recommend and personally have tested is Spot Organics Chill, trust me it really does work. It is an organic homeopathic remedy that is safe, effective and easy to use. One can say it is the ultimate momentary mute button and helps turn the volume down quite a few notches.

We have all heard the infamous words “Take A Chill Pill” or “Just relax” . Well here is a natural way to tame your dogs repetitive ruffs and keep the peace. Pets become stressed or hyper for many different reasons - travel, unfamiliar guests in the house, being separated during your absence, loud noises like thunder or fireworks, or even from sensing your mood swings. Spot Organic Chill Essential Oil is perfect way to calm the senses and help your dog get in touch with his or her “inner dog”.

It is a great aromatherapy calming blend for dogs. Using only pure essential oils that are known to have a calming effect on your dog’s body and mind. Infused with organic sweet almond oil and blend in pure essential oils of lavender, green mandarin, clary sage, and ylang ylang. This blend can also help promote feelings of love and security while calming, making it great for rescued dogs, or dogs waiting to be rescued!

How to Use Chill: Place 3 drops of Chill into your palm and rub over your dogs chest when he is scared or just acting a little crazy! Chill works great when used during obedience training, we even have a master dog trainer that loves this blend! It helps keep your dog calm and focused during training.

If your dog continues to bark consult a board-certified veterinary behaviorist or a pet behaviorist for additional suggestions if all else fails. So go ahead, with these tips you can put away that sign that says "Beware of Barking Dog". Now you can relinquish your crown & sash as Misses Chronic Barker and Spot can be on a road to recovery. I wish you both well.

Barkingly yours,

Lola the eco-dog

If you have a question or need advice from Lola the eco- dog on ways you & your dog can go green or want to better understand your dog just email her at and she will bark back. Lola the eco-dog is here to help!

Shop for eco-friendly, all natural, organic goodies for your furry family member. Celebrate a beautiful smile with us in honor of February National Pet Dental Health Month. We offer a great selection of pet dental care products. We carry a great selection of Odor Free Bully Sticks / Dog Treats / and Dog Toys !

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