Adding a new and adorable furry addition to the family is an obviously exciting time. However, with great cuteness comes great responsibilities – and puppies are baby-level cute, however, they can also be baby-level handfuls. Seriously. A puppy that continuously barks and howls when left to its own devices can be incredibly stressful – for both you and the dog (and more than likely for your neighbors as well). This is not a hopeless situation, though, and relief can be attained and had by all. That is if you know what you are doing (and that’s what we are here for). In addition to stressing out, there are some steps that you can take to help your puppy break the barking habit. The following guide will tell you exactly how to stop a puppy from barking when he is left alone.
As with most of life’s complex issues, finding out the reason behind this particular behavior could (and probably will) ultimately lead to the appropriate solution. The key to it is understanding why, exactly, he does what he does. It is widely known that barking is your puppy’s main way of communicating. It is his only real way to let you know if he is unhappy, distressed, excited, or annoyed. And, as much of a pain, the constant barking might be, there is more than likely a legitimate reason for it. Pinpointing that reason will give you the tools needed to fix the behavior. Is he lonely? Getting enough potty breaks? Does he have toys to keep him entertained? Boredom is a common reason for negative behaviors. Whatever the reason – there will be an achievable path to fixing it – you just have to find the one that works for you.
A kennel, or dog crate, can be an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to puppy training, especially regarding puppies that are prone to particularly negative or destructive behavior (ya know, like barking all the time). Sometimes the incessant barking is accompanied by destructive behaviors. This is usually an indication of something deeper than just simply being a naughty boy. Many times it is something called separation anxiety. This is when the dog experiences fear and/or anxiousness when being left at home alone. Crate training is an excellent way to keep the puppy contained while you are away but it also gives them somewhat of a ‘safe space’ and could end up helping with the barking issue. Another, unrelated positive to crate training is that it often aids in puppy potty training too.
Loneliness is oftentimes the cause of a puppy or dog acting out or being overly vocal. Puppies, in particular, are more likely to be accustomed to being in a group setting, as they are usually kept with their littermates until being adopted into their forever homes. Going from constant companionship to being alone for extended periods of time is a drastic change for your pooch, and is probably one that is going to take some time for him to adjust to. Hiring a dog walker can give your pooch the human interaction that he is lacking while you’re at work or out of the home and break up the monotony of the day. This seemingly small change can make a world of difference and might even curb the barking behavior altogether.
Then again, it might not. Some puppies simply need more attention than others. Because dog walkers are not a constant companion, your puppy may do better in a full-time daycare situation. Not only will it keep your dog from being distressed at home, alone, but it will offer the opportunity for socialization with other dogs as well. Your dog will also likely learn basic training and become more comfortable keeping himself entertained. This daily routine can end up having a positive effect on your dogs’ conduct when left home alone, too.
In more severe cases, professional help might be necessary. Obedience classes are a viable option, as is hiring a professional animal behaviorist. Puppies that come from an abusive background, ones that have come from severely stressful environments, such as those from puppy mills, or that have been abandoned, just might need a professional touch. This is another reason that it is important to gather as much information about your puppy, and his previous life, as possible. Genetics, background, and prior experiences will shape how your dog responds to stressful (in their mind) events, such as being left home alone.
And now on to a more touchy subject. There are quite a few different anti-barking tools on the market, some being more controversial than others. These, preferably, should be used as a last resort. Even something like a shock collar could be effective in stopping excessive barking. Although you should keep in mind that many believe that these gadgets cause unnecessary pain to your precious pets and sometimes have the opposite effect than what was intended.
One of the most useful tools in your box is going to be taking the time getting to actually know your new fur-friend. Every single dog is different, they all have their own personalities, and the breed of your puppy is also probably going to be a factor. Certain canine breeds tend to be more vocal than others. For instance, the Beagle breed, being a hunting breed, is well-known for barking and howling, whereas a Greyhound rarely makes a sound. Getting familiarized with your puppy’s unique personality, and taking his breed into account, will help you tailor a precise plan for curbing the barking issue.
Just as there is an appropriate way to approach the situation, there are also ways that you do not want to attempt to deal with it. The way that you treat the issue is going to dictate whether or not you are successful in doing so. Reacting the wrong way could very well make the barking problem worse and cause other issues to develop in the process.
Here are a few helpful dos and don’ts when trying to stop a puppy from barking:
• Do keep calm. The way that you react to the situation is ultimately going to shape the way that your puppy responds to it, and to you. Yelling, screaming, and corporal punishment (hitting, smacking) typically will only make everything worse. Being physical can also cause your dog to fear you which can result in aggressive behavior like fear biting.
• Don’t expect too much, too soon. Puppies, like human infants, are just babies. They have the ability to learn but it is going to take time and patience. Mistakes are going to happen. Keep with it. Don’t give up.
• Do your research. Maybe one of the most important aspects of puppy ownership is doing your research. Background, breed, and personality, among other things, are all going to play a role in the relationship between you and your puppy. Some dogs learn easier than others while some are more prone to being overly vocal. Know what you are getting into before actually getting into it.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Certain puppies will be, let’s say more of a challenge than their counterparts. While a friend’s puppy might catch onto the rules in no time at all, yours just might need a little extra help. Don’t be afraid to call in the professionals, after all that is what they are there for.
• Do make a firm commitment. Circling back to the research issue, knowing what you are getting yourself into will help ensure that the commitment will stick. Dogs that are rehomed tend to develop behavioral problems making them less likely to find another home and family. Once you’re in it, you’re in it. Honor your commitment, this is merely a bump in the road.
• Don’t use a muzzle while the dog is unattended. While you might be tempted to utilize a muzzle to stop your puppy from barking when home alone, it is unsafe and not recommended. Whilst in a muzzle, your puppy lacks the ability to eat and drink sufficiently and it poses a real risk for accidental choking.
Many new pet owners tend to underestimate the amount of work that goes into caring for a puppy. Quite a few also underestimate the possible lengthiness of the adjustment period. It isn’t a commitment that should be taken lightly. As much as this is a change for you, remember that it is also a stressful and scary situation for your new fur-friend. The barking might subside on its own or it could be something that the both of you are just going to have to work at. The one thing that is guaranteed? It will all be completely worth it in the end. You’ll not find a more loyal, loving companion. There’s a reason that dogs have earned the title of ‘man’s best friend’ – and they hold that title well. Enjoy your new pal, you’re in for quite a ride.