Barking is a natural form of canine • communication. As with many behavior problems, sometimes the natural instincts can become inappropriate. To curb the instinct, you need to determine why your dog is barking. This section will provide some assistance to determine the root of the behavioral barking.

Nuisance barking. The primary reason • for nuisance barking is to get your attention. This behavior interrupts meals, phone calls, and quiet leisure time. Apparently your dog is bored and needs some stimulation.

Remove the cause and effect. If your • dog barks to command you, do not respond. If your dog barks at you and you pick up the ball and play fetch, your dog has now trained you. Change the pattern. If your dog barks at you, perform three to five minutes of obedience commands, and then (if your dog cooperates) play.

The harder your dog tries to make a certain point, the further away she should be from achieving the goal. Repeated barking should be met with removal from the social situation (crated).

One of the easiest ways to correct nuisance barking when your dog is not under leash control is a bark collar. Bark collars administer an automatic correction when your dog barks. As with remote collars, bark collars come in a variety of styles and should be properly researched before purchasing. Bark collars should only be used with nuisance-related barking. Using a bark collar for stress-related barking or threat barking may make the problem worse.

Threat barking. All dogs have basic

• territorial instincts, stronger in some breeds than others. Barking usually stops after the threat is taken away. Boundary agitation can strengthen the response intensity and is typically a contributor to uncontrolled threat barking. Remove boundaries for boundary agitation.

You probably will have an easier chance at changing the color of your dog's fur before you can extinguish a truly territorial dog's bark. But with proper conditioning, your dog should stop barking after the leader says enough! When your dog barks (and there is a reason to bark), praise him for the initial response. Next, tell him to SIT to create a new thought path. If your dog continues to bark, correct with NO and cue him with QUIET and SIT. Praise as soon as your dog stops barking. Timing is critical. Catch your dog on the first bark.

Remove the visual stimulus. Prevent

• your dog from "patrolling" your house. If your dog insists on pacing from room to room, tether or post him with obedience commands. Reduce the intensity of the territorial response by counter-conditioning the boundary-agitation aspect of the behavior problem.

Stress-related barking. Stress-related

• barking is triggered by a visual or noise stimulus that causes an anxiety response and barking. How can we tell stress barking from territorial barking? Stress-related barking will not stop once the stimulus has passed because the resulting stress remains in the dog.

Most stress-related barking starts as

• simple territorial barking. Not knowing how to properly address the barking, the owners introduce a negative stimulus like yelling, penny cans, bark collars, or spray bottles. The negative stimulus of the "quick fix" gradually attaches a negative emotional response with the territorial instinct, thus creating the barking.

To address stress barking adequately, you will need to address both the threat-barking response along with counter-conditioning to the trigger. The counter conditioning should be done when a real territorial threat (e.g., visitor) is not present. Chapter 8 contains a great exercise for counter-conditioning to the door and doorbell. A strong foundation as a leader will be essential for your dog to defer to your redirection.

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