If you've ever wondered if your dog's bark is worse than his proverbial bite, the answer may lie no further than your next-door neighbor. Some canine behavior problems, such as house soiling, affect only a dog's family. But problems such as escaping and excessive barking can result in neighborhood disputes and violations of animal control ordinances, and that means problems with your pet can soon become "people problems." If your dog's "talkative nature" has created tension with your neighbors, then it's a good idea to discuss the problem with them. It's perfectly normal and reasonable for dogs to bark from time to time, just as children make noise when they play outside. But continual barking for long periods of time is a symptom of a problem that needs addressing--from the perspective of your neighbors and your dog.
The first thing to do is determine when and for how long your dog barks, and what causes him to bark. You may need to do some clever detective work to obtain this information, especially if the barking occurs when you're not home. Ask your neighbors what they see and hear, drive or walk around the block and watch and listen for a while, or start a tape recorder or video camera when you leave for work. With a little effort you should be able to find out which of the common problems discussed below is the cause of your dog's barking.
Your dog may be barking out of boredom and loneliness if:
Expand your dog's world and increase his "people time" in the following ways:
Your dog may be barking to guard his territory if:
Your dog's barking may be a response to something he's afraid of if:
Your dog may be barking due to separation anxiety if:
There are several types of bark collars on the market, and we generally don't recommend them. The main drawback of any bark collar is that it doesn't address the underlying cause of the barking. You may be able to eliminate the barking, but symptom substitution may occur and your dog may begin digging or escaping, or become destructive or even aggressive. A bark collar must be used in conjunction with behavior modification that addresses the reason for the barking, as outlined above. You should never use a bark collar on your dog if his barking is due to separation anxiety, or fears or phobias, because punishment always makes fear and anxiety behaviors worse.