Barking is more than just noise

17 years ago
By Christine Cowett Robinson
Special to The Star-Herald

    Every little bit helps. That is why we are so thankful to Daigle Oil Co. for letting us have a car wash on Aug. 11 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This is a great opportunity for us to make some money for the shelter. Every penny we make benefits the animals at our shelter. Please join us and help us to improve the lives of the animals at the Central Aroostook Humane Society.    Ever wonder why your dog barks? I went in search of an answer. The following is from Dr. Manette Kohler at www.petcare.net:
    “Most dogs that are considered problem barkers are not really behaving abnormally – they are responding to environmental stimuli (such as hearing a siren, seeing a squirrel run up a tree, etc.) and exhibiting alerting behavior (people or dogs approaching their “perceived” territory, etc.).
    Some dogs bark because they are distressed at being left alone and others bark as part of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but the majority of barkers are just being “dogs.” Barking is one their major modes of communication.
    The key to controlling the barking is in identifying and treating the underlying stimulus. For instance, if the dogs are being teased by neighborhood children, the dogs should be removed from that environment. (And a few phone calls to some parents will help, too.)
    The next step is to teach the dog a more appropriate behavior with which to replace the barking. According to Dr. Karen Overall, board certified animal behavior specialist, most dogs that bark continue to do so because they become more stimulated and, generally, more anxious.
    Dogs cannot learn another behavior to replace the barking unless you are present. Several things will help make bark control possible including obedience training, plenty of play and exercise (to use up excess energy that may otherwise be used for needless barking), and head halter training (two brands are Promise Halter and Gentle Leader). Rewarding “good” behavior is more successful than just reprimanding inappropriate behavior. It is important to respond to the dog within the first 30-60 seconds of the onset of the barking so you will have to pay close attention.
    Other items which you can use to interrupt the barking include water sprayers, shake can (an empty soda can with coins or pebbles sealed inside), ultrasonic trainers set appropriately, etc. These devices will work to interrupt the barking and then you can redirect the dog’s behavior to something more appropriate such as playing fetch or other kinds of play. This is a simplistic description of how to handle this situation since each dog presents its own unique personal tendencies.”
    It’s very important to discuss the barking issue with a trainer or your veterinarian.
    If you are looking for a friend for life, visit the CAHS.
    Please have your pets spayed or neutered.