The excessive vocalization is one of the behavioral problems more complicated to treat, however, if we identify such appropriate the causes of this behavior in our dog can learn to handle it , always following the concepts of operant conditioning and applying appropriate techniques not harm your well-being.
In this article from Animal Expert we will guide you so that you know what to do if your dog barks to get your attention , however, if you are not able to solve it by yourself, we advise you to consult a specialist, such as a veterinarian specialized in ethology , a canine educator or trainer with experience in behavior modification.
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- why do the dogs bark?
- Why do dogs attract attention?
- How to train a dog not to bark?
- Counterproductive methods
- What to do if a dog doesn’t stop barking?
why do the dogs bark?
Dogs are sociable animals that communicate constantly with other living things and with the environment. Ethology, the science that studies the behavior of animals, has revealed in recent years details about canine body language, better known as ” the signs of calm “, but it has also been revealed that canids use a wide range of vocalizations in their social relationships, which can also have multiple meanings .
We must know that the barking of the dog is one more communication tool and that it is totally normal for it to be used to express its emotions, such as excitement, fear or anger, as well as using it to attract attention. or as stereotypical (compulsive) behavior to relieve stress.
Meaning of barking dogs
Before starting to work to solve excessive barking problems, we must learn to correctly interpret the different vocalizations. What does the barking of a dog mean? Here are the keys to find out:
- Bark: Barking to get attention is usually medium in tone and tends to be well spaced.
- Howl: If the bark becomes a howl it may be indicating loneliness, isolation and fear.
- Whining: crying often manifests a request for attention due to fear, pain, tiredness, stress or anxiety.
Why do dogs attract attention?
Dogs can try to get our attention for various reasons: request for food or seeking attention , alert to the presence of unknown people and animals, request for play … As guardians we must learn to recognize the needs and concerns of our dog , which will help us determine the cause that is causing the dog to bark.
Remember that in addition to barking, there are other signs that dogs use to get attention .
How to train a dog not to bark?
Visiting a canine behavior specialist , such as an ethology veterinarian, canine educator, or trainer, can be very helpful in solving this behavior problem . These professional figures can help us find the cause and origin of the problem , as well as offering specific guidelines for the specific case.
Ideally, work through positive education using the following reinforcements and punishments of operant conditioning:
- Positive reinforcement: we will reward the dog with a reinforcement of high value for him (food, caresses, toys, congratulations …) when he carries out a behavior that pleases us, such as asking for our attention without barking, with the aim of making him happy. repeat and learn it more easily. [one]
- Negative punishment: we will withdraw a pleasant stimulus for the dog (our attention) when it carries out the behavior that we dislike, in this case the barking.
Therefore, to solve this vocalization problem, we must ignore our dog when it barks, but at the same time, we must attend to it when it asks for our attention in a calm and silent manner. It will be very important that we are consistent and that the whole family works following the same guidelines, because only in this way the dog will correctly associate the work.
Once the dog understands that, by barking, it does not get any response from us, it will stop barking to get our attention and will bet on other behaviors, such as approaching in silence. This entire procedure is known as the ” extinction curve “.
It can happen that the dog begins to manifest the barking in a much more intense way when we begin to ignore it, however, if we are constant , the extinction will take place successfully, although it may take a little longer. Let us remember that each case is unique and particular. We must not forget either that, to maintain proper behavior for the rest of the dog’s life, we must continue to reinforce the dog as long as it is calm and requests attention from us silently.
Unfortunately, it is frequent that the tutors come to scold or punish the dog for barking excessively, however, we must know that when we punish the dog for barking we are paying attention to it , which destroys all the work done with the use of the positive reinforcement and negative punishment. In addition, we will also have caused fear, insecurity, confusion and even the breaking of the bond with the dog.
There are also people looking for an easy and quick solution with the use of the anti-bark collar , however, the European Society for Veterinary Clinical Ethology (ESVCE) states the following: 
- It is not possible to determine the appropriate intensity for a particular dog, which can cause the appearance of fear, aggressiveness, phobias and stress. All this also causes the dog not to learn.
- The animal can get used to the pain and continue to bark.
- Being a machine, the timingmay be incorrect, causing negative results.
- There is a risk of abuse when the animal is aggressive.
- Increased heart rate, physical burns, and even skin necrosis can occur.
- Other negative behaviors and behaviors such as stress, clicking, or inhibition may appear.
In addition, no study has shown that the anti-bark collar has a superior efficacy than the use of positive reinforcement, therefore, we do not recommend the use of this tool.
What to do if a dog doesn’t stop barking?
There are some especially complex cases that will require the follow-up of a professional (preferably a veterinarian specialized in ethology ) to definitively solve the problem, as some pathologies or certain behavioral problems prevent the dog from learning adequately and at a normal rate. . An example could be those dogs that present the sensorial deprivation syndrome .
In these cases, individualized behavior modification sessions, the application of specific guidelines and even the use of medication are often carried out , something that only a veterinarian prescribes. Therefore, if we are dealing with a particularly complex case or with an individual who does not respond to the guidelines described above, we recommend consulting with a specialist.