Pet Tips

Tip – 32 – Dog training – Barking dog – Treating Excessive “Alarm” OR “Warning” Barking


Much of a dog’s barking is what can be called “alarm barking.” It is usually in the form of bursts of two or three barks with short pauses between them. It is an attempt to “call the pack” to check out something that they see or hear which may be threat. If you remember that barking is communication, it becomes fairly easy to stop. If, for example, they start excessive barking when someone comes near the door, or passes a window, you should go to the door or window, and let the dog see that you are inspecting the scene. Next, pat the dog and thank them for alerting you to someone being at the door. If there is someone there, have the dog sit and give them a treat. If not go back to where you were before, call the dog to you and praise them or give them a treat. DO NOT yell at them to “Shut up!” since they will interpret you shouts as barking. This will often result in increased barking since they feel that the leader of the pack responded to their barks with barks of his or her own, so the dog must be doing the right thing!

It is possible to train the dog to NEVER bark or call your attention to something being out of the ordinary around the house, however, this is not what you want. What you want is for the dog to continue alerting the household when there is something out of the ordinary for safety and security reasons. So accept your dog’s alarm call as part of the dog’s job. Once the dog has barked, however, your going to the door to see who is there should reassure the dog. The leader of the pack has responded to the dog’s communication and checked to make sure that everything under control. When the dog understands this, further barking and issuing of warnings is unnecessary.

© Copyright Stanley Coren, reproduction by permission only.

More detail on excessive barking by Stanley Coren is located here.

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