Excessive Barking

Morteza,

My 3 year-old Beagle is terrorising our neighbourhood as he barks too much and I am about to be evicted from my flat. Everything triggers his barking, neighbours passing by, the hoover, knocking on the door, me laughing with my friends… you name it. I have tried using medication but it has had almost no effect. I have also used a bark collar which works, but only for some triggers. He does not mind being alone at home but that means I have no control, and I often come home to a notice on my door saying that your dog barks too much. I can’t live my life without him as he is so affectionate and has a lovely personality. I have absolutely no other issues with him. Please HELP.

Dora Eynon

 

Morteza’s advice

 Dear Dora,

Firstly, it is important to establish that it’s natural for dogs to bark as it is their most important form of communication. However, when a dog barks excessively, it’s telling you that he is looking for stimulation or a challenge.

In your particular case, Beagles are very vocal dogs and while he does not bark all day without cause, it may just be a ‘cause’ that we do not all agree on. The barking is the only way for him to tell you that there is something wrong or his needs are not met.

It would have been useful if you had told me what you do to stop him barking. Sometimes we can unintentionally encourage the barking, for example by picking them up and shouting at them to stop, or by petting them to calm them down. Both methods are wrong and both methods encourage their barking. While the former tells them that you are participating in their barking, the latter tells them it’s ok to bark and the more you bark the more I pet you.

The solution is more simple than the above. It begins with providing your dog with plenty of exercise via a walk. There is a saying “a tired dog is a good dog”. That’s right, if you drain his energy before you get home, his brain tells him to go and rest when he gets home.

A Beagle is a working dog and he needs a job; his brain needs challenge and stimulation. You can do this by playing games that require him to focus, rather than raise excitement. Remember, the barking first starts with a mild level of excitement. Try to play games that engage his nose and try to redirect his energy towards positive activities, rather than those that make him more exited. Try to walk with him for a long distance next to you, rather than letting him run free in the park which makes him more excited. There is nothing wrong with an excited play in the park, but first it should start with a walk side by side and it should finish with a long walk. By asking him to walk next to you, you are establishing your relationship. Therefore, it will be more effective when you ask him assertively to stop barking. Solutions such as medication, barking collars and ‘quiet’ commands do not address the root of the problem and will only fix the issue on the surface. Fulfil his needs in a dog way and all issues will disappear.

Good luck.

Morteza

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