What makes nice people do horrible things to their dog? Well, barking for one.
Barking is the number one complaint in communities. It causes neighbourhood drama and drives owners nuts. Barking is a very normal thing for dogs to do, much the same as talking is for us. Dogs bark for many reasons:
- Other dogs are barking.
- To alert you that something or someone is near the property.
- They are bored, lonely or frightened.
- They want your attention, a walk or dinner!
- Because you have inadvertently reinforced them for barking by barking back at them or rewarding them in some way for barking. You may not realise it, but barking is communication. What are you communicating back to your dog?
For some reason nice people reach for aversive methods when faced with barking. Here are some of the things they try, all designed to stop barking:
- Throwing stones or chains near the dog to frighten it out of barking.
- Citronella collars which are meant teach the dog that when it barks it get sprays with nasty smell.
- Ultrasonic devices designed to give an annoying sound that only the dog can hear when it barks.
- Shock Collars which deliver an electric shock when the dog barks.
- Throwing water over the dog or squirting water/lemon juice.
How would you feel if you were trying to communicate and your family - the people you love and trust suddenly did any of these things to you? More often than not, the dog has no idea why he is being sprayed/shocked/hosed and the barking continues. Sure you could try any of these methods, but at what price? The cost of aversive methods is high and you run the risk of damaging your relationship with your dog.
So, what to do?
Get some help! Chances are, you are not a dog trainer. Why waste $ on expensive collars & council fines when a session or two with a qualified professional will make all the difference.
Quick fixes don't work - Training will!
First of all try to identify why your dog is barking? Here are a few ideas.
- If you are home when it happens, teach them to stop barking & reward no barking. This is the easiest to fix of all!
- For bored barkers, try giving them a job to do - nose work in the back yard by searching for food, food dispensing toys, auto treat dispensers etc.
- At the window barkers - use window film to cover the bottom of windows.
- Give your dogs more stimulation during the day - regular walks or hire a reputable dog walker.
Warning - You can buy shock collars off the internet, but chances are it is illegal to use them. Shock collars are banned in many States of Australia and across the world - for good reason. Fines are heavy and the RSPCA will act if you are caught using a shock collar. There is not a Veterinary Association or Animal Welfare Organisation anywhere in the world that would recommend using a shock collar on a dog.
"Animal welfare – it's your duty to care". 'Duty of Care' is an obligation for people to take reasonable measures to protect the welfare of any animals that their activities may impact upon.