You have just been told that while you are at work, your dog barks all day. At first you don’t want to believe it.
But you know that if you were in your neighbor’s shoes, you wouldn’t want to listen to endless barking either.
A big part of being a responsible dog owner is ensuring that your dog’s behavior doesn’t affect other people negatively. Additionally, being evicted from your apartment or staying home from work are not options. The nuisance barking needs to end right away. What to do?
First, look for the trigger that causes the barking. Possibilities are boredom, sights and sounds from outside, and anxiety. Maybe there has been a big change, such as a move to a new home or a different schedule.
Start with exercise. If you have a young, high-energy dog then he’s likely not getting enough exercise. Most people underestimate the amount of exercise a young healthy dog needs. Two 30-minute walks per day won’t do; some breeds need vigorous exercise for closer to two hours per day! Get up a little earlier in the morning so that your dog gets a good workout. Tired dogs take naps, a nice quiet activity.
Other exercise options:
- Find a dog walker who can come at mid-day to exercise your dog and break the monotony of being alone all day.
- Consider doggie daycare. It may seem like a big expense, but compared to the cost of moving or the potential damage a bored dog can do, it’s well worth it. Your dog will be happy and tired at the end of the day!
Training: It will stimulate his brain and body. It can’t take place while you are at work, but evening and weekend training classes will give you and the dog great exercise and mental stimulation and will strengthen the bond between you. The benefits of training your dog will improve his overall quality of life.
Reduce Sights and Sounds: This might be an easy fix. If your dog has access to windows through which she sees everything going by, try closing shades or drapes. Humans don’t like the idea of not being able to see outside, but for a dog, the inability to get to what she sees can be very frustrating. “Out of sight, out of mind” is very true for dogs. Play music or leave the television on to drown out outside noises. There are CDs available specifically for this purpose, too.
Provide your dog with things to do while you’re gone. Food puzzle toys are great! It can take a good while for the dog to extract kibble from these. Just be sure that it’s not possible for her to get it stuck under the couch or some other place that will require her to perform serious demolition to get to it.
Don't leave your dog outside. If you live in a house with a fenced yard, don’t leave the dog outside. He might decide that guarding his territory is his job and bark to scare everything he sees away or out of his yard. Set up an area indoors or use a crate with good toys to occupy your dog while you’re away.
Is this a new behavior? Sometimes when dogs get older and hearing, eyesight, even mental acuity deteriorate, they develop anxieties. Things don’t seem the same. While the physical exercise required may be less, trying some of the other tips above might help. Make sure that your older dog has a cozy space and a soft bed.
If you are truly providing your dog with adequate exercise and stimulation but nothing is helping, it is possible that he has separation anxiety.
There isn’t a quick fix for this. Don’t make a big deal about leaving the house or coming home. You can try leaving for short periods, gradually increasing the time you are away. Put an unwashed shirt of yours in the dog’s bed; maybe your scent will make him feel more secure. There are calming products and anti-anxiety medications available from your veterinarian.
If none of these suggestions help, consult an animal behaviorist. You can find one through your veterinarian or go to https://iaabc.org/ to find one in your area.
Check out some of these entertaining toys that might keep your dog occupied while you're away.
If you're looking for another way to keep your dog busy and active, watch the video below.