Colin Tennant - M.A. FCFBA

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Why do puppies bark and what can you do about it?

Colin Tennant - M.A. FCFBA
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Barking is a natural form of communication for puppies and a dog would hardly be a dog if it didn’t bark sometimes. Dogs bark for many and varied reasons, from a greeting to an alarm call, and to do so is perfectly normal. Barks will differ from one dog to another and from one situation to another and you will probably come to recognise different barks (vocalisations) in your puppy. However, barking can be prolonged or excessive, and then it can become a problem and the cause needs to be identified.

Many owners give their puppy attention when they bark in an effort to calm them down, but this can be interpreted as a connecting reward and make the problem worse. This is called associative learning, so do make sure you’re not reacting and thereby re-enforcing the behaviour. Remember, it’s best to make sure your puppy understands basic rules from day one.

Some puppies bark because they are stressed at being separated from their owner and may be suffering from separation anxiety.  In serious cases, a canine behaviourist should be consulted from the www.cfba.co.uk.

Others bark and howl because they don’t have enough stimuli to occupy their day. If your routine changes and you can’t spend as much time with your puppy, it may become frustrated or anxious and as a result may bark excessively.

Puppies can be left on their own for short periods and that is normal. To deal with temporary isolation, provide your puppy with interesting toys, maybe a Kong Toy stuffed with titbits that force your puppy to spend time extricating the juicy titbits to keep it occupied.

If your puppy starts to cry, howl or bark excessively, wait for silence then go into the room and make a mild fuss, but not too much, or you might encourage further barking.

Colin Tennant - M.A. FCFBA

Colin Tennant is one of Britain’s foremost Canine Behaviourist. He consults in Dog Behaviour, Psychology & Training at Canine Behaviour Centre, Daventry www.colintennant.co.uk. Colin is also a Dog Expert Witness in legal cases and Chairman of the Canine & Feline Behaviour Association.

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