Dogs bark for many reasons. They want to go out, or they’re asking for attention. They want you to throw their ball or they may be saying “Look! Someone is at the door!” Or maybe they see another dog and want to say ”Hello,” or want to defend their turf. Regardless of the reason for it, all of this barking can drive us crazy!
Last summer I received a call from Barbara and her adult son Jonathan. Dr. Jess Franklin, their veterinarian, recommended they call me for what they reported to be separation anxiety.
Their beagle, Scout, was barking and howling all day long when Barbara and Jonathan were away at work — and their neighbors weren’t going to put up with it anymore. Scout, as with most beagles, has an exceptionally loud howl!
How do you stop a dog from barking and howling when no one is there to correct the dog?
The answer in this case was not to focus on barking or separation anxiety.
Instead, we focused on walking Scout — the right way — with no pulling or running. Barbara and Jonathan had not been walking Scout regularly, so this was new for both the dog and his owners. Here’s how Barbara tells the rest of the story…
“About four or five days into walking twice a day, I was getting ready to leave for work, and Jonathan had already left. Scout usually went to the door or the window right next to it and started whining and barking right away, but on this particular day Scout was lying on his bed in the kitchen. I went to the door, opened it, and Scout was still lying on his bed. He never came to the door, whined, barked, or anything. I was so flabbergasted!
Julia had said that the dog knows you are going to take him for a walk, and when you come back he's going to get another walk, and that alleviates all of his anxiety about separation. Who would have thought! We enjoy walking with Scout now. Scout doesn't tug on the leash or walk in front of us, and he doesn't go pulling on the leash when he sees people or other dogs.”
Dogs bark for lots of different reasons, and shouting at the dog to “Shut up!” isn’t usually the most effective solution. Stay tuned to this blog for future stories about barking dogs!
Julia Levitt is the founder of In Harmony Dog Training and Ann Arbor Animal Hospital’s “Miss Harmony” for dogs! She is available to help your dog be a better canine citizen, and answers questions about Canine Behavior here on our blog from time to time. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 734-645-4707.