Dogs that bark when left home alone can cause their owners problems with the neighborhood community. Being a recurring theme in the meetings of many buildings. That's why we bring you some tips on how to keep dogs from barking when you are gone if this is your case… or if you want to pass this article on to one of your neighbors with a pet.
We already explained in an article what are the main reasons why dogs bark. And how this is a natural and innate form of expression through which they try to convey a certain message. Now, in this short article, we are going to face a recurring problem: Dogs that do not stop barking when they are left alone at home.
Why Does My Dog Bark When I Leave?
Dogs that bark a lot when left alone fit into several profiles. One of them is that of dogs that suffer from separation anxiety: Feeling closely united with their owners, they act as if the world is ending every time they leave home and are separated from them.
They are animals that, due to anxiety, can also present other symptoms such as urinating at home, chewing and destroying household objects, or jumping frantically through the different spaces of the house. But if what you need is information about separation anxiety, we recommend this article.
Some breeds (including most terriers and german shepherds) are born as watchdogs, prone to “sounding the alarm” whenever noise or movement catches their eye. In other words, any noise on a neighbor's landing in the distance, or the garbage truck passing down the street can unleash their “greatest hits concert.”
Eliminating this tendency is somewhat difficult in watchdogs. However, they can (and should) be taught to limit their “alerts” for a possible intruder to five or six barks, and then calm down. But never allow our dog to spend long periods of time barking non-stop. Well, it will be bad both for living with your neighbors and for the well-being of their vocal cords.
If we also support the tranquility of our dog by leaving it in a quiet, dark and silent place in our home, this will help in the case of the most irascible dogs to excitement. Well, a relaxed and quiet environment will also help the dog to be relaxed and spend a large part of the day dedicating itself to sleep instead of barking. Which is the ideal when we are not at home.
On the other hand, puppies of any breed can be a challenge, as they are capable of barking to absolute and literal exhaustion if they are not educated correctly and are not helped to burn all that overflowing energy that they have when they are so young. So we recommend that you try to get up early to give your puppy a good time to let off steam, play and activity. Enough so that they come home tired enough that they are looking forward to relaxing in their bed.
Lastly, there are the barkers who love to round up “the pack.” That is, everyone who lives at home.
What about them?
Well, the fact that we leave them alone at home causes the fun to end. So they bark tirelessly to call for family members to come home. If any of us who live in the family home enter the house when he is barking, this will cause him to see this behavior reinforced and think that sometimes it works.
Barking uncontrollably and almost randomly when they are home alone and want to stop.
How to Keep Dogs From Barking When You are Gone?
If the dog is rewarded for its barking every time we go back inside the home, even if only to ask it to be quiet, how do we break the vicious circle? Well, silence must be rewarded.
To encourage our dog's silence, we must exercise it: Take advantage of a day off or a weekend and pretend it was a normal day at work when it comes to your routines each morning. But when you go out the door, do not stray too far…
If your dog is silent for a certain period of time, you should come back and reward him (treats or caresses and compliments are worth it, but it is best to start first and then work together).
Start with an easy goal to achieve: 10 to 30 seconds of silence. Every time he barks again we will start the time count from zero. Believe me when I say that it is better to start with achievable goals. Because in many cases those 10 seconds will be quite an achievement. If he is barking just outside, wait until he is quiet, obviously. And reward him.
With some dogs, it is sometimes necessary to resort to the support of a stimulus or marker to help them identify that it is unwanted behavior. Like a loud, sharp knock on the door when a bark occurs. This will help speed up the dog's understanding process: His barking provokes something unpleasant, while silence has a reward. We go little by little.
It is very important that you do not yell at him asking him to shut up. For many dogs, attention from their owner, even negative (scolding him), is better than no attention. So yelling at him to be quiet can become a “reward” for his barking. Because you are listening to him.
Once you've gotten the first bark-free stretch of time, go back into your house and reward him with compliments (a “good boy” or “good little dog” is much more powerful than you think) and a treat. To then go back to your chores.
Repeat the operation several times, trying to increase the silence times. And doing it each time as calmly as you can, so as not to excite him (if you are one of those who leaves the house slamming the door, better rethink it). If you find that you have to reset the time count more than a couple of times, you may be going too far, or you are doing it too fast.
Of course, some dogs are very clever and will be aware that you are on the other side of the door. But you will be able to lengthen the distance as you are reaping successes (and enjoying the corresponding prize).
Some people use collars instead of banging or loud sounds to discourage barking. At Pets Roof, we are against shock collars. But there are some collars with citronella dispensers that are totally innocuous and that seem to work quite well for this type of behavior, at least as a support for the animal to identify the barking as unwanted behavior. The collar interrupts each bark by dispensing a citronella-scented diffusion.
However, we do not recommend these collars for those dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. In that case we refer you to the article that we link above.
In general, if you repeat the exercise of “reward the silence”, it is most likely that in a short time you will be able to avoid your dog bothering your neighbors. But above all, do not despair and arm yourself with patience (your pet well deserves it). You can go back and forth to the beginning. Just repeat the exercises periodically until they stop.
If you already have a problem with this and are going to start working on it, it is worth informing your neighbors that you are doing it. Because it is not something that is achieved overnight. But they'll be happy to hear that their complaints haven't been lost on your hands (it doesn't take much to try to be a good neighbor and foster a friendly coexistence).