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Whining and barking is a nuisance no matter how big or small the dog may be. Many owners seem oblivious to the noise that their dog is making, which really causes problems for responsible dog owners that do try to control these behaviors. While barking and whining are natural ways for a dog to communicate, there are times when neither of these behaviors is warranted or required, but also times when they are. Most people would like their dog to give a quiet whine at the door if they need to go outside, and also don't mind the dog whining when their water or food dish is empty. In the same manner most owners appreciate the dog giving a few barks when a stranger or new person approaches the house or yard, but they don't want the dog barking and barking over a squirrel in the yard next door or just for something to do for fun.
Dogs whine and bark for many different reasons. Some dogs will start whining and barking out of boredom, some because they are stressed and anxious and others just to get the attention of their owners. Puppies will whine and bark for other reasons as well, but typically those three reasons are why adult dogs engage in problem whining and barking. Of course there are also the good reasons for whining and barking as discussed above.
Boredom barking is probably the most common form of problem barking. Dogs learn that when they are bored they can always entertain themselves by running around the yard and barking at birds or even just barking at the fence. They may also watch traffic on the street and bark for something to do. The biggest problem with this kind of barking is that the dogs only engage in it when they are alone and no one is home. This is frustrating for the dog owner as well as terribly noisy for the neighbors. One barking dog can also trigger other, quiet dogs in the neighborhood to pick up this bad habit.
Barking for boredom is very hard to correct unless the owner has some way to catch the dog actually engaging in the activity. Prevention is often the best response to this behavior. Provide at least 30 minutes of intense physical and mental activity for the dog before leaving it alone. You may also wish to confine the dog to a smaller area of the house or yard that has no direct line of sight to major traffic areas such as roads and sidewalks. In some situations pulling the blinds or curtains so the dog cannot look out of the window will also prevent the problem. For some dogs leaving a television or radio on very low can provide enough sound and distraction that they will not engage in barking activities. For some dogs a privacy fence that prevents them from being able to see out of the yard will also help in preventing this nuisance type boredom barking.
Providing lots of things for the dog to play with and be involved with when you are gone is ideal. Try having a variety of different types of hard rubber balls, Kongs, knotted rope dog toys and even large meaty knuckle bones to give the dog something to chew on and play with when you are gone. A dog that has a companion dog will also be more content and less likely to start barking however it is very important to select the right companion dog to prevent the problem from escalating.
In worse case scenarios there are special collars that can be used to spray a fine mist of a water and citronella mix towards the dog's mouth when he or she barks. Not a shock collar, these collars are completely human and use the smell of the citronella to prevent any further barking. The spray is triggered by the movement of the dog's throat as it starts to bark and the spray mechanism is powered by two small batteries that are stored in the collar.
Anxiety barking is far more severe and hard to correct. These dogs are barking because they are frantic in being separated from their owners. Often behavioral trainers and even medication has to be used in conjunction with gradual desensitization to prevent this type of barking. Dogs that are barking because of separation anxiety will typically exhibit many other behaviors as well and should be examined by a vet to rule out any possible medical conditions.
Barking and Whining For Attention
Many dogs have simply got their owners trained to respond with treats or attention every time they bark or whine. Providing attention is often a way for owners to quickly and immediately deal with barking or whining when the dog is a puppy, but it can quickly escalate to a real problem as the dog becomes more demanding over time.
If the dog stops barking and whining when the owner or family is not present, or never barks or whines when he or she is being petted or fed, it is likely that attention is driving the behavior. This can only be corrected when the owner consistently and firmly does not respond to barking and whining, and only responds to sitting quietly and acting appropriately on the part of the dog. With constant retraining the dog will learn that the only way he or she gets the treat is to sit quietly and wait, rather than barking or whining.
Barking and whining is also a sign or signal for owners that the dog may be in pain or may be experiencing some type of discomfort. Watch to see if the barking or whining occurs only when the dog is moving, after eating, or even when exercising or trying to lie down or stand up. If you notice barking, yelping or whining at these times immediately get your dog to a vet as this can be a sign of several different health related issues, many which are life threatening.
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