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Barking Dogs

Dogs bark, it's their nature. Barking is natural, but sometimes excessive barking can indicate an issue that needs to be addressed. Why is your dog barking? Some of the most common reasons or issues we have experienced with the 100s of dogs we've worked with may include:

Before you can begin to work on the barking issue, you need to identify why your dog is barking. Once you've identified why and have an understanding of what your dog wants, you can begin to work in training the dog in what you need them to do, versus merely satisfying what they want.

Keep in mind that every dog's needs and wants are different, so we will address the most common. Understanding your dog is probably the most useful tool to begin with in your working to resolve any issue.

One of the first things that you should consider is to spay or neuter your dog. The hormones of an unaltered dog can exacerbate situations in which they feel the need to bark, mark, protect their territory, aggression, or any number of behaviors.

Second, in nearly all cases of barking, a dog needs learn what is and is not appropriate for barking. Barking is an alarm system, used to alert someone to the potential dangers, or to ward off impending dangers. The need to bark is an innate behavior and it is YOUR job to reconstruct the innate behavior, relevant to their environment, your home, and what is or is not considered "bark worthy."

One of the most important things a Dachshund needs is activity to expel energy. Are you giving them activity, or do you just acknowledge their existence and hope they entertain themselves with toys and running around the yard? Dogs are social animals and need to be socialized, even at home. This socialization includes constructive activities that involve a partnership with YOU. If they are barking for any of the reasons listed, it's a sure sign that they need some hands-on intervention and time with you!

Take your dog for a good 20 minute walk everyday. This simple activity will help exert pent up mental and physical energy for the dog, as well as you. Also, play with your dog everyday, especially if they're young. Do it before you go to work and after you get home. You dog needs interaction or "people time" to get to know you and vice versa. These are the best times for learning your dogs behavioral habits and excellent times to interject some simple command training.

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Punishment and Anti-Barking Devices address the symptoms, they do not address the problem. You must identify why your dog is barking.

Punishment is seldom effective as your dog may bark for different reasons at different times. Too much punishment and you risk turning a correctable behavior into a higher level problem of aggression or anxiety, not to mention increased barking. Not enough and your dog sees this mild reaction as mere attention. Be it bad or good attention, to the dog, all attention is getting you to interact with them. And, they'll take what they can get, and do what it takes to get it.

Anti-Barking devices, such as shock, ultrasonic or scent collars, as well as other means of "interrupting" the barking, such as whistles, bags of rocks, water bottles, or other noise-making or startling methods, again, simply address the symptoms, not the problem. Dachshunds are very intelligent and will stop barking at the sight of these devices. They may even stop barking altogether, as long as that device is on them. But, where you have achieved silence, you have now suppressed the issue, which may well up into another issue, such as escaping or digging.

So, what can you do? Let's take a look at some of the reasons why dogs bark, and add some tips to work with those particular issues. Keep in mind that your dog may experience one or several of these issues, so it's important to recognize that you need to really work with your dog on their individual wants and turn them around so that they are doing what you need them to do. What they want is easy to identify, if you spend the time to observe and interact with your dog, learning what they want and how they tell you. Only then can you train them the proper ways to ask for what they want, and the appropriate reactions when they cannot get it.

Do what you have always done and you'll get what you have always gotten. Pavlov's dog was trained to do certain tasks on command, be it a hand gesture, command word, or a bell/clicker. With consistency, repetition, patience and time, your dog will get it.

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Boredom: Dogs left alone for long periods of time, or kenneled for long periods, with nothing to do may decide it's their job to bark. It lets anyone within ear shot know that they are alone, they're bored and barking is their way of communicating.

Sometimes they will bark while you are home. This could be due to any number of reasons, besides boredom, such as fear, territorial, attention seeking or even while playing. Be assured that dogs do not bark without a reason. Identify the reason, so that you can divert their attention toward a more productive outlet.

If your daily routine leaves your dog alone for long periods of time, try breaking up that routine for them, take them to a dog daycare center where they have the opportunity to play and interact with other dogs. You can even just do this a few times a week, and on the other days, increase your interaction with them when you get home.

Or, if your dog needs an activity at home, give them activity based toys, such as kong toys that require them to get the treat out. DO NOT give them toys or chew bones that are easily destroyed or can break apart, allowing them to swallow the pieces. Those types of toys and/or chew bones are NOT safe and should only be given with supervision.

Take an obedience class to help you learn commands and other great information that will help you teach your bored dog what is and isn't acceptable behavior. These classes are great foundation points to help you learn how to work with your dog, by learning your role as the leader, and give you great tips to constructively assert your leverage as such.

One of the games we play at home, with our pack, is the "barking" game. We start by barking or howling, getting everyone to bark and howl. We do this for about 5 minutes,every other day, and when it's time to quit, we use the command "silence," which they respond to immediately. This is also the key command word we use on the occasions when they are barking inappropriately. This works for us, buy may not work for you, unless you are also using a consistent command training with every instance of barking. The dogs need to understand what is and is not appropriate. In this case, they understand "silence" to mean it's time to be quiet. And we only use this command when barking is involved.

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Territorial: A dog may feel that they must protect their territory from intruders, be it a passerby, mailman, or other humans walking by, or the mere sound of the wind or other sounds that the dog believes has left or made to be silent, because they are barking. This territorial barking is a vicious cycle and if the dog believes that their bark is effective, they may well do it while their owners are at home. In fact, sometimes it is made worse, as they now, not only must protect their territory, they must also protect their humans.

First important tip: Spay or neuter your dog. This will reduce the instinct to protect their domain. If you have a puppy, do it as soon as they are old enough. And, NEVER encourage your dog to bark, because it's cute, by saying things like "get 'em," "What is that?" "It's okay," or any phrase that acknowledges the behavior as being acceptable with complacent verbiage/tones.

There are many tips given on how to work with a dog that barks, protecting their perceived territory. One tip, in particular, is that you throw things or divert their attention by slamming sticks on the floor, tossing rock-filled bags at them, shaking tin cans with coins or rocks in them, or giving them a command to do something else, followed by a treat for following the command.

Keep in mind, anything you do that addresses the barking is still associated with the barking. So, with that in mind, while these tactics create an immediate response, they do not address the behavior at it's root. Diversion sounds, startle noises, and treat tactics can backfire on you, causing increased anxiety. And the treat method may well end with increased barking, as the treat for silence can turn into barking for attention seeking rewards. In either case, you've lost the battle and they will continue to bark.

With Territorial barking, you have to work to desensitize your dog from the perceived intruder, whether inside or outside. They need to be trained to understand what is and what is not intrusive or threatening, and given acceptable boundaries.

Most dogs barking through the fence or while looking out the window at things and people they see, are alerting a warning to these people and things. Try taking your dog for a daily walk. At the same time, you should be actively working with them to respond to a "quiet" command, so that when they alert, you let them know that it is not an appropriate time. Introduce them to the world they believe they are protecting you and their territory from.

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You can help desensitize them to potential human intruders, like passerby, the post man and other people that may or may not come to your door. Enlist a friend or neighbor to work with you. Another command that will prove valuable is the "sit" and "stay" command, which gives your dog something to do, as you address their issue with the potential intruder. Have the other person come closer. When they get up to you, have them give your dog a treat, as long as the dog has remained quiet and in the position you commanded him to be.

Again, this will not work over night, and may take weeks of repetition and consistency. In time, they will get it. You can also crate train your dog, for those times you are not able to be with them, while you work or shop. You can even use this process while you're at home. If you know someone is coming, or there is an unexpected visitor, give the command to "kennel" or simply remove your dog from access to the door. You can practice the kennel command or another command, such as "sit" and "stay" along with the "quiet" command, if you just want to ensure they're not bolting to the door as it opens.

In those indoor situations, you need to train your dog that YOU are in charge and protection is not needed in certain situations, like when the door bell rings (even on the tv), or a squirrel runs across the roof. If you don't react to the noise and command your dog to not react to the noise, there will be peace. But, you have to practice these methods every day. Be consistent, be patient and in time your dog will learn the rules. And, reward your dog when they obey your command/cue. And, slowly wean them off the expectation of a reward, or you may convert them into barking for the attention/treat.

Another potential help with territorial issues is to take your dog to a day care a couple times a week. Expand his territory, by adding adventures or play dates at other people's houses. Your dog needs to learn that the world they live in does not end at the gate or door, and that there are positive things beyond. Take charge of the world they believe must be protected and expand it, but always utilize the commands your teaching them, in every situation.

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Fear: A dog that barks out of fear is doing the same as a dog that is bored or territorial, however, their body posture is not that of a confident guardian of their domain. In fact, you may find your dog hiding behind something, as if to protect itself from the very thing is is barking at. Strange sounds, people and places can provoke this type of barking. But, instead of body confidence, you will notice their tails low, or tucked under them, and their ears are not perked up, but rather down and back. Their head may also take a lower position, with the only thing up are their eyes. Be very careful when your dog is barking with this type body posture, as they may react poorly if approached, and may even bite out of the welling fear that is causing them to bark.

Similar to the territorial barker, the fear barker is alerting to strange sounds, sights and other instances that cause them to bark. However, in using the techniques above you need to address what it is that frightens the dog.

In this case, desensitizing is your most valuable tool. Introducing the dog to a new world, helping them build a confidence. But, it will also take longer to work on this type of barking, as they are not protecting their territory with confidence, needing commands in conjunction with introductions; they need assurances that the noises and things they fear, won't hurt them.

With fear, you have to take it slow with introductions. We've found that if you try forcing a dog that is fear-barking into situations that amplify their fear, one of two things can happen; they may bite if an approach is pushed, or they may get bit (other dogs), as many dogs, especially in packs, sense the fear; some may come to help, others may come to defend, and in many cases, someone gets bit. The dogs that react to protect, may well attack the people or dogs that they believe are potential threats to the fearful dog.

Use caution and take it slow. The fear dog has to acknowledge and accept, through consistent and constant exposure to their fears, that they have little to fear. Only when you get past the fear emotion, will your command cues and training be effective for them. In you home, give them a safe place, like a kennel, that they know they can go to when overwhelmed with fear. We have found that putting a blanket over the kennel, to cover 3 sides, but leave the door open; this allows them security and freedom to venture out when they feel it's safe.

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DO NOT force a fearful dog out of the kennel. This is their safe-zone and forcing them out may exacerbate their fear and they could react poorly, snapping, growling, barking or even biting to protect themselves. In a sense, the kennel is the one piece of territory they have, that they can protect. It's small, it's safe, and it limits the fearful objects from getting to them. In special times, such as the 4th of July, this will prove invaluable for your dog. You may, in cases you know are coming, like loud or busy holidays and thunderstorms; you may want to move the kennel to a more secluded area to help further buffer the sound, like the basement or an inner room in your house.

In time, as they adjust to the sights and sounds, and overcome their fears with exposure, the barking will subside. Keep in mind that feeling "safe" is what the fear barker needs. You need to actively address their fears with confidence and a calm patience. Regular walks, trips to the dog store, play dates and other socialization activities will go a long way in helping your fearful dog become more confident. But, as soon as they start coming out of that fear, be prepared to potentially deal with the over-confident, territorial dog.

Yes, it's a vicious circle, you fix one bark and another reason to bark pops up. The most important thing to remember is that you must learn who your dog is, what they want, why they are barking, and work consistently on addressing inappropriate barks or reactions to situations and people, based on what they want; turn those into opportunities to teach them what you need them to do. And, you must do this every day, consistently and with great patience. Repetition goes a long way in training. Patience goes a long way in showing your dog that you understand, that you're trying to help them understand and please you.

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Separation Anxiety: Similar to Fear barkers, dogs with separation anxiety will bark when left alone, or may bark when in a strange situation or when things or people they don't know are in their domain. Some of the key things to watch for, in identifying a dog with separation anxiety include other signs of anxiety, such as following you from room to room, frantic greetings, and overly anxious when you prepare to leave. Others may do odd things, other than the normal oddities of a dachshund, such as chasing shadows or reflections as if their life depended on it. They will focus with such intensity, as to block out the external world that is literally terrifying them.

In other severe cases, as with puppy mill or dogs with a history of abuse or seclusion, once they identify or bond with a human they trust, they will literally turn into velcro dogs, needing to be with you every second. Sometimes they are so close that you literally trip over them, should you make a sudden change in direction.

Many only feel confident when you hold them, insisting you pick them up, the minute you stop moving. Some may even run in a circular motion, as in the size of the cage or kennel they've spent too much time in, which ties in with boredom. You need to help them expand their comfort zone, to feel confident to explore beyond the tiny world they've been freed from.

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This is probably the most difficult barking to fix, as it requires more than just command or obedience training. Separation anxiety is not a behavior, in itself, it is an emotional dysfunction that requires precautions, extra patience, understanding and time. They may never overcome all aspects of their anxiety, but you can work to help them to resolve it enough to reduce or eliminate the barking.

The first step in this type of barking is to identify the underlying anxiety. A dog with separation anxiety, similar to humans, needs therapy of the mind. Command training will not work, without properly addressing the underlying emotional need. To ignore an emotional dysfunction can result in their anxiety becoming a worse condition.

Here, we are not going to address all of the anxieties a dog experiences. Instead we are only going to address the "separation" aspect of this condition, and give you tips to work on that, which will reduce their need to bark. This is something that you can use to also PREVENT separation anxiety from occurring with your new puppy.

The hardest thing for a dog to accept is being away from their pack, away from you. You have to help your dog learn rules to help them know that YOU are not the proximity of the pack, when you leave. They need to learn a rule or cue that keeps them calm, and in a place, mentally and physically, that you designate, until you return. This addresses the separation aspect of their anxiety. Again, repetition and consistency is the key element in training your dog to "stay" when you leave.

If your read our information on Understanding Your Dog and the Dachshund Information page, you know that Dachshunds, especially, tune in to their human with purposeful eye contact. Dogs, in general, respond to moods and emotions of their human. Be it tone of voice or body actions, your dog knows something is about to change the proximity of their connection to you based on what YOU are doing.

Unlike the "fear barker" the separation anxiety barker is not necessarily reacting to sights and sounds that they hear; in this case they are reacting to being left alone; and, the sights and sounds only tend to intensify this feeling. Think about what you do, in preparing to leave, you get your shoes on, you grab your keys, your purse, and you head to the door. These are all cues to the dog, that you are about to abandon them.

Try doing all those routines you do, getting ready to leave, all the while watching what your dog does in response to these actions. Use command words like "sit" or "stay" during each process, and your quiet command, if they bark. Then mix it up, and simply relocate to another room, give them the commands and set everything down. If they obey, reward them. Or, instead of always preparing to leave for YOUR purpose, be sure to do the exact same routine, and take them for a walk; only this time you add their harness and leash to the routine objects.

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The key is getting your dog to recognize that you have a purpose in leaving; and they have a purpose while you're gone. Give them something to do, that does not involve you being their while they do it. Give them a toy that involves their attention in playing with it, and leave the room. When they come looking for you, barking, give the quiet command and redirect them to their "toy" spot, along with your quiet and stay commands. Repeat, be consistent and do this every day, in response to their barking along with their intense need to be where you are. Don't just wait for them to react with barks, check on them every few minutes. This helps them acknowledge that the toy is not a diversion or trick, to distract them while you leave, but rather a job or activity to do, when you're not right there with them. It's something they can do by themselves until you return.

Eventually, instead of barking or having anxiety over your absence, they will find solace in having their job to keep them busy until you return.

If you kennel your dog when you leave and they still bark, try kenneling them while you are home, for quiet time. If they bark, give the silence command, and leave. Keep repeating this until they are quiet for longer than a few minutes. The reward is letting them come out and possibly a treat. Be consistent and repeat this every day, getting your dog to realize that the time alone is temporary. With consistency and daily work in this, your dog will respond well to being alone.

DO NOT punish your dog for being afraid or doing the things they do, trying to resolve the intensity of fear they have. One thing, if you have a puppy, is to let them have some independence right away. Some dog owners get a little too controlling of the puppy's activities, afraid they'll potty or tear something up; so they hold the puppy. They hold the puppy too much. And, every time the puppy makes a squeal or sound, the reaction is to pick the puppy up and hold them. In a sense, the owner is actually creating the separation anxiety in their dog, by not allowing them a sense of security on their own.

If you have a puppy, let the puppy be a puppy. Understand that you need to be training your puppy commands and exposing them to their new world, inside and outside. Take them for daily walks, socialize them with people and situations. Do all the things you would do with a full grown dog, when they're a puppy. Don't wait and don't pick them up all the time, when they cry. Like a baby, they are exerting sounds that get reactions until they figure out what sounds work to get what they want. Instead, teach them the commands and routines for what you need them to do, and present proper cues that they will understand will be rewarded with what they want.

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Attention: The attention seeking bark is a dog that has learned that all it takes is a bark, and you will pay attention. Whether it's for food, treats, toys, petting or even being scolded for doing something wrong. In this dog's mind any attention is better than no attention; they only know that you (or someone) will respond with the bark. It's your job to differentiate and identify their wants, and train them appropriate cues and commands.

First you need to learn to recognize what specific want is being barked for. If the dog is wanting to go outside, let them outside. Barking to alert for this is good. If you'd rather they do something else to alert you, try using a bell next to the door. When they bark to go outside, give them the quiet command, and indicate for them to nose or paw the bell. As soon as they ring the bell, let them outside. Do this every day and every time they bark to go outside. Be consistent, patient and reward them when they've done what you need them to do.

Now, coming back inside is a little different, as they might have to bark, if you're not watching them, to let you know they're ready to come inside. If your dog is having house training issues or is a poop eater or territorial barker, then it is probably wise to be outside with them, to ensure they are doing what the intended bark is for. You need to ensure, by sight, that they in fact had to go outside to potty, instead of just to run around and play, or to practice their territorial guarding techniques. Otherwise, that bell is going to ring and ring every time they decide outside is where they want to be. Give the bell a meaningful purpose to the dog.

Know your dog's schedule for needing to potty, and that will help you recognize that it should be about time for them to go outside to do their business. Keep in mind, Dachshunds are extremely intelligent, and we are fairly certain, through experience, that they will do things to get you to react. They may just ring the bell for fun, just to see you come to it. They can train you with the bell, if you don't pay attention. ;O)

If they are barking to get a treat, food, petting or anything that is not in their schedule to have, at the time they are barking to get it, DO NOT give them attention for it, by petting or even scolding, as these are forms of attention. Instead, be assertive, but calm, and give them the quiet command. If they realize that the bark isn't working and start jumping on you or take to other naughty activities to get your attention, again, do not reward them with the attention they seek. Give the quiet command, and the down or off command.

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Perhaps the best technique we've found is, when they bark for attention, play dumb, even though you know what they want. Give them the quiet command, and then cues to do something else. It needs to be something that you know they understand the cues for, that you've worked with them on, consistently and effectively, like going outside.

At the same time, you need to be addressing the "want" they're going for, with it's own unique command. But, you need to give that command on your terms, at the appropriate times, instead of when your dog wants it.

Ultimately, every dog wants to please their owner. Every dog wants different things, and most dogs know that barking is the shortest route to get from point A to point B. You need to map out their routines in everything they do. Establishing a solid routine, along with command training, will help you and your dog get to know each other better, and learn to live Quietly within the confines of the house rules.

Primary key in effective training is to be consistent, patient and regularly practice commands and rules with your dog. If you don't think it's important enough to work with your dog on a regular, consistent time-line, you cannot expect them to adhere to rules that are not monitored or enforced.

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