Pit Bull Owner's Guide to Barking
Nobody likes a barking dog, but barking is often used as a method of communication – between your dog and other dogs, your dog and you, as well as with anything else they may encounter. However, barking can become a problem when it’s constant and disruptive.
Responsible dog owners must ensure that their pitbulls are good citizens, so problem barking should be curbed as early as possible.
By taking an early measured response you can stop this problem before it gets out of hand. But first you have to understand why your dog is barking, so you can find the right solution.
What are the Causes of Barking?
If your dog has a tendency to bark when you are not home, then they may be barking due to boredom. Dogs can also bark when they are afraid of something, such as when they hear strange noises.
Finally, dogs also bark when they are frustrated – which can occur when they cannot reach something or someone. By spending time understanding why your dog barks you can then take the appropriate action to correct the behavior. Look at various factors – such as the time of day, where your dog is when it occurs, and what it barks at.
Correcting Fear Barking
Generally, if your pitbull is barking out of fear you’ll have a good idea what the cause is – sirens, bicycles, people in hats, etc. The best way to correct fear-barking is to gently introduce the thing that causes a fear-barking reaction under controlled circumstances. You may wish to enlist the help of a professional trainer, or follow these steps:
- Place the person or thing that causes a fear reaction on the far side of a field, far enough away that your dog can see it but is not reacting.
- As long as your dog is calm, praise him and give him treats.
- Slowly move your dog closer to the item, but be prepared to step back should your dog show a stress response.
Desensitizing your dog can take time, even weeks. You need to remain patient and controlled. If you try to rush the process you may end up making your dog more fearful. Eventually, your dog will happily be able to be in the same area as the thing it used to bark at without a response.
If the fear-barking is in response to something that rarely occurs, try to distract your dog with a treat and get it to sit. Offer praise for the good behaviour, but do not try to comfort the dog as this will merely reinforce the barking.
Correcting Barking out of Boredom
When the majority of barking occurs while you are gone, then your pitbull is probably barking due to boredom. The trick to solving barking for boredom is to ensure that your dog is not bored.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
Regular daily exercise helps, as does ensuring that your dog has lots to do while you are away. Hide treats and toys around the house, make sure it has things to chew on, and think about employing a dog walker to take your pitbull out for a quick romp in the middle of the day.
Dogs bark when they want something that they can’t get. The best way to stop this type of barking is to get rid of whatever causes the frustration, if you are able to.
It can also help if you enrol your pitbull in obedience classes, as this will help give your dog more control over their impulsive reactions. Teach your dog basic commands as this will give them a base to build from.
The Key to Preventing Barking
It is much easier to prevent barking by raising a happy and healthy dog that does not bark regularly, then to try to stop a barking dog. You can ensure that your dog has no reason to bark excessively by keeping it exercised and exposing it too many different types of stimuli.
Your dog should get attention when it is behaving well rather than when it is barking, as this will only serve to reinforce the behavior. While occasional barking is your pit bull’s way of communicating, excessive barking is distracting and disruptive.
Don’t expect an overnight result when you start retraining your dog. Any type of corrective behavioural training takes time, and a whole lot of patience. If you find that you get frustrated, or are not seeing progress after a few weeks, then it is time to hire a professional.