A new puppy is like a new child. They need love and attention almost all the time, they also need a healthy dose of discipline and corrective measures to control their behavior from an early age, so that they learn young and don’t become unruly and difficult to deal with as adults dogs.
There are many things you must teach your new pup – sit, stay, lie down, heel, and the list goes on. One of the many things that new puppies do is bark – a lot. That’s their method of communication, after all, and according to dog behavior experts, it is more to convey an emotional state – as obviously, they cannot talk.
However, you may find that your dog is barking incessantly and it becomes annoying and, especially if you are living with other people – say, in an apartment building – a real nuisance to the other tenants in the building. Your landlord might have something to say about his other tenants being disrupted, and so you’ll need to find an effective way to correct the behavior, and quickly.
Why do dogs bark?
As mentioned above, barking for a dog is the conveyance of an emotional state. Whining sometimes accompanies barking, which is usually the conveyance of stress of some sort.
For the dog, it’s about trying to communicate some sort of emotion to their owners. Depending on the living circumstances and personality of the dog, those emotions can range from anxiety to happiness and even joy.
If you can, try to consider your puppy’s living circumstances that might be causing them to emote in this way. Is it a loud household? Are you arguing with your significant other, or children a lot? Is the dog at home alone a lot of the time? The first step in fixing a problem is to identify where it comes from.
Once you have identified where the problem lies, your next goal is to correct the behavior. This can be done in several different ways.
Recognize the home-life circumstances
As mentioned, if you recognize that you have problems at home, then you must fix those first, in order for your new puppy to feel welcomed, happy and healthy at home. If you deem that your home life is the reason why your new pup might be barking incessantly, then it is your job to fix that environmental cause – and then see what happens.
See if the behavior is corrected. If so, then you can proceed with your other training regimen for your new pup, now that the puppy is in a better living environment. If you are having difficulty changing this living environment for your puppy and the puppy continues to bark incessantly and you find yourself becoming angrier and angrier.
Perhaps, then, it would be best for you to temporarily or permanently rehome your puppy, until such time as you can give it the loving, caring, calm environment that it deserves.
Lay concrete ground rules
Like with children, one of the best things you can do is to implement the same responses to the same behaviors repeatedly. If your puppy starts to bark randomly, simply provide a stern ‘no’. Firm, but fair.
This should be part of a wider network of ground rules that you set for your puppy. Saying ‘no’ consistently will teach your puppy that incessant barking is unacceptable behavior and over time, the puppy will learn not to bark because a firm admonishment will accompany that.
Look out for pain or discomfort
Sometimes, dogs will bark as a way to let you know that they are in pain. The same is true of small puppies. If your puppy barks when they attempt to stand up or lay down, or barks when they move in a certain way, then they may be experiencing pain or discomfort.
If you suspect this, get your puppy to the vets right away. Sometimes, this pain can be as simple as fur matting, impeding your dog’s ability to regulate its temperature. If you suspect this, please learn proper grooming techniques for your dog and practice these regularly.
Don’t reward bad behavior
Just as with children (you’re noticing a pattern here), one of the things that you cannot do is reward bad behavior. If you come running every time your dog barks, that’s going to signal to the dog that you’re rewarding the thing that you want them to stop doing.
Don’t do that. Instead, walk to where they are and issue a firm ‘no’ command. Rewarding your dog’s attention-seeking behavior with attention will only seek to embolden them and won’t teach them anything.
One of the best things you can do for your dog is to keep them active. Many dogs will bark when they’re bored – so, make sure that you maintain an active lifestyle with your puppy, and that way, they’ll be less bored and bark less.
While some trainers advocate the use of bark collars, be wary of buying them and testing them out on your dog. By far, the best way to fix a dog’s barking behavior is to train them not to, rather than rely on a collar as a substitute. Puppies are like kids, and you have to treat them that way most of the time, but it’s important that you discipline your puppy fairly and firmly and lay the foundation for a well-disciplined dog of the future.