Q&A: My dog is an excessive barker – what can I do?

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Questions submitted by Kimberly

My doc, Sadie, has become an excessive barker. She is an 8-year-old, lab/pit bull mix. When we are sitting outside with her, just relaxing, she starts to bark. I believe that it is to get attention, so I pet her. It has gotten to the point that we cannot sit on our patio without her barking at us. She has toys and bones available, but only pays attention to them for a short time. My husband is home all day with her, and she gets walked daily. Any suggestions?

Terry’s answer

Kimberly,

Your dog has figured out that you are way more fun to play with than the bones and toys.  I’m sure you are right on target when you say it’s for attention.  Here are a few things to try.

Ignore her when she barks. When she is quiet for even a second, reward by petting, or giving a small treat. Ignore again when the barking starts again – and I’m talking really ignoring. No talking, no eye contact, arms folded, turn your body away. She will figure out that she is only getting attention while she is quiet. It may take a little while for her to “get it,” but when she does figure it out, it will last.
Another thing you can try is when you go out to relax on the patio, take a filled Kong out with you so she has something to occupy her while you are out there besides you. This should be the only time she gets the Kong – so she learns to equate the really yummy thing she’s getting with relaxation on the patio.
The last thing I can suggest is to play some running games when you first go out so she is good and tired when it’s time for you to sit and relax. Not only is a tired dog a good dog, but it will be special bonding time with you after being with dad all day.
Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.

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