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 Category:  Pets

Why Does a Dog Bark

 What Are the Solutions?

By Michel Gerard

Many dog owners are lost when their dog barks and becomes a nuisance for their neighborhood. If the reasons of the dog barking are identified, it becomes easier to find a cure to the behavior. Hopefully, a dog owner who wants to stay in good terms with his neighbors has many options available from positive training methods to the use of mechanical devices.

Why does a dog bark? A dog barks to communicate a message, show excitement or draw attention. The sound can't be assimilated in anyway to a rich information message similar to human speech as it is not a language. There are distinctions in the tonality of a bark that can be recognized: disturbance barks are rough and low frequency while play barks are of a more tonal and higher frequency. A bark along with a certain body attitude may allow the owner to understand what his dog is up to.

The main types of barks are warning barks and alarm barks. A warning bark is a response to a territorial intrusion and starts as a low growl becoming more loud and ferocious. If the dog feels in danger, it may as well show its teeth. An alarm bark is a reaction to an unusual event and voiced by one or two barks, which are in no way aggressive. The dog may keep on barking until action has been taken by the handler.

The other kind of barks are playful barks, need barks and on command barks. A dog barks for a treat or during a play session with its owner. It barks in order to have the owner satisfy its need such as providing food when it is hungry or letting it going outside to do its business. Some owners also teach their dogs to bark on command, which is part of a dog obedience training course.

When barking is a nuisance, the behavior can be controlled in different ways, with the easiest solution being the first, and the last the most controversial:

- Finding the reason of the barking and if possible eliminating it.
- Correcting the behavior with positive training methods.
- Attending a dog training course.
- Using a bark collar.
- Surgical debarking.

If a dog barks at another family pet such as a parrot, the solution would be to isolate the cage in another location. Positive training is a method to fix the behavior without punishing. Time needs to be spent with the dog in order to stimulate the animal to remain quiet, and give treats or praise when the barking stops. Dog training classes are also a wonderful way to go, but they need commitment and training centers are not always conveniently located close to one's home.

There are a few types of very effective bark collars, which are more or less well received by dog lovers. Basically the device produces a response to a bark that annoys the dog and makes the animal stop. A citrus spray collar sprays citronella, that dogs do not like, to disrupt the pattern of barking. A vibrating ultrasonic collar produces a tone that humans can't hear but irritates the dog and progressively discourage barking. An electrical collar generates a gentle irritation or buzz impression after a bark. The last option is the most debatable mechanical gadget of all for evident reasons.

Surgical debarking is a procedure to modify the dog's voice box so that a bark makes a reduced noise. This is the last option available for a stubborn dog that won't stop to bark despite all the efforts made by its owner. It is very contentious and also not legal in some countries.


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