A barking dog can be a good thing if he saves your life from a fire or protects your family from a burglary attempt. Dogs will bark as a warning to protect their property. However, a dog with uncontrolled barking may become a “nuisance”, threatening your peaceful relationship with the neighbors. You may also want to control your dog’s barking when you are out walking in public or lounging on the patio at a dog friendly cafe.
Why do dogs bark? Barking is their method of communicating, either with people or with other dogs. When they bark at their humans, it may be compared to an infant crying because they are hungry, bored, lonely, or need something. You may notice that your dog barks when he’s ready to have dinner, when he has to go relieve himself outside, or in protest when you leave the house. If a dog barks constantly and for no apparent reason when you are home, it could be due to a health problem requiring a consult with your vet. If a dog barks nonstop in front of the cupboard where his treats are kept, you probably don’t need to hire an animal behaviorist to figure out what he’s trying to tell you.
Some barking may only require a trip outside. When barking behavior appears to be the result of separation anxiety, fear, or dominance it needs to be addressed through training before it escalates.
Local dog trainer, Sandy Miller, comes to our rescue with suggestions to solve out-of-control unwanted barking. Sandy explains, “If your dog is barking because someone is at the door, that’s usually acceptable, and you might want to say ‘good dog’. Once you see it’s a friend at the door, say ‘quiet’ in a firm voice. If the dog continues, put about 15 pennies in an empty soda can, seal the top, and shake it. The noise you make shaking the can will startle the dog, and the barking should cease. You can also purchase a canister called Pet Corrector at local pet supply shops. Keep the item behind your back, as its effectiveness diminishes if the dog can see it in advance of use.” Pet Corrector is a can of compressed air that emits a hissing sound that supposedly mimics a predator’s sound in nature.
What do you do if you’re walking your dog in a public place when Sparky spots a desired animal or other object and starts madly barking? Don’t reinforce the barking by letting him approach. Start out by purchasing a head halter or a front clip harness which give you greater control during walks. Teach your dog basic command training which includes heeling on leash and sitting on command. Sandy Miller suggests you bring along a small spray bottle of water set on jet stream or the soda can of pennies, and use once the barking begins. The spray bottle works well if you have a multiple dog household and want to address only the one who is barking, but be careful not to squirt him directly in the face.
Creative techniques can help with challenging cases. When a dog’s loud barking erupts every time you leave to go out, Sandy suggests you pretend to leave taking your can with pennies. “When the barking starts, throw the can of pennies at the front door, saying nothing.” One creative client rigged up a net containing cans near the front door, and he pulled a string releasing the cans when the dog barked uncontrollably.
Cesar Milan recommends EXERCISE for all dog behavior issues. This famous canine expert advises, “When a dog barks excessively, it’s telling you that it is bored and is looking for stimulation or a challenge.” If you can’t run with your dog or get him to the dog park, throw a ball for him in the back yard. Inside the house, you can toss a toy and have him run up and down the stairs. All dogs enjoy outings and a change of scenery…just like their humans!
For training assistance and private lessons, you can contact dog trainer Sandy Miller at (760) 360-4085. Enjoy the summer and explore the neighborhood with your wonderful and well trained canine companion!


Cat & Kitten adoptions – every Sat/Sun now through Aug. 11 at PetCo, 42700 Jackson Street, Indio, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

Dog & Cat adoptions – every Saturday beginning July 20 through Aug 31, 73600 Alessandro, Palm Desert, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.