So, I’ve just found out that my night-time barking isn’t appreciated by everyone. Turns out you hoomans find it quite annoying, especially when you’re sleeping. I get it, sort of.
I mean, I like my sleep as much as the next dog, but those barks are important! I’m telling you lots of things.
What things I hear you ask? Well, here’s a list. Also, if you want to stop the barking maybe try addressing some of these things.
It is literally my job to let you know when baddies are sneaking into the house and the garden. If I hear a burglar or a trespasser at night, I’m going to let you and everyone in a 4-block radius know about it.
I also make sure to let you know when next door’s stinky cat comes into the garden. Mainly because I really don’t like him but also just in case he tries to sneak into the house.
Squirrels, foxes, badgers, chipmunks, birds, possums, racoons, leaves, and rubbish also pose a threat to the household’s security!
Basically, if you’d say something like ‘Ziggy, why didn’t you stop that BLANK from getting in’ then I treat it as a risk and bark at it.
If you want me to stop barking at home invaders or passers-by, then I’m going to need a lot of bribing. It’s going to take a lot of chicken to convince me to be quiet. You’ll need to give me the treats when I stop barking.
Eventually I’ll connect the quiet to treats but you’ll need to be patient. I really love barking at racoons!
When you’re sleeping it means you’re not paying attention to us! Sometimes it just gets hecking lonely in the house at night and barking makes me feel less alone. This is mainly because it wakes you up and you come and see me.
If you always come when I bark, then I’m going to assume that barking is what makes you come running. To stop this, you need to retrain my brain. Only give me attention when I stop barking. This will help me realize that quiet is good.
The best way to stave off loneliness is to spend lots of time with me. I know that sometimes you have to work and can’t hang out with me. That’s fine, I mean one of us has to work to pay for all my toys and treats.
When you are home, especially before bedtime, make sure to spend time cuddling with me and playing with me. It makes me feel loved and socialized.
Another thing you can do is let me sleep close by. If you want to be selfish and keep the bed to yourself, then consider putting a bed for me nearby. If we sleep in the same room, I’ll feel less lonely and less likely to bark.
When you get bored, you turn the TV on, or you spend hours scrolling through your phone. I can’t do that. Firstly, because I don’t have thumbs and secondly because that seems really boring.
When I’m bored, all I can do is bark for attention especially at night when there’s nobody around to play with me.
I’d really like it if you could help me get rid of all the pent-up energy I have. That way, I’ll be ready for bed at night and won’t have time to get bored.
A walk or play time are great ways to help me get rid of my physical energy. It doesn’t have to be a super long walk just before bed. I’d appreciate just a quick strut around the block.
Similarly, you don’t need to set up an assault course to play with me at night. A game of fetch in the garden or tug in the living room will do just fine.
You’ll also need to help me use up my mental energy. Maybe put some puzzle feeders down or get me to do some tricks. These will make me think hard and tucker me out quickly.
You can expend my mental and physical energy at once by taking me on walks with lots of sniffing places.
When I stop to sniff, I need to use my brain to work out what dog has been around and when. The more chance I have to do this on a walk, the more tired I’ll become.
4. Past Experience
Not every dog starts out in a loving home. I started out on the streets and night times were far more dangerous there. This meant that I had to be on high alert when it got dark.
I’d become stressed and anxious waiting for a noise or a signal that meant mean people, dogs, or other animals were on their way.
Now, I have a super duper, safe and loving home, but old habits die hard. When I see it get dark, I still feel a little bit stressed and anxious. This means that even the smallest noise can set me off.
Try to be patient with me and don’t get mad. That will just remind me that night-time is not safe. Let me bark and then comfort and praise me when I stop. Eventually, I’ll figure out that being quiet gets rewarded and I’ll stop barking.
If you can figure out your dog’s triggers you can help them over come the trigger. If, like me, your dog gets more stressed out at night, try to show them extra love and comfort when the sun goes down.
I promise you on behalf of all dogs that we are not barking just for the sake of it. We start to bark when we think it’s important.
It could be that we’re hearing an intruder or animal, or it could be that we’re finding the loneliness and boredom of night-time unbearable.
Either way, try to remember that we’re not being deliberately annoying. Try to understand why we’re barking and take steps to reduce or remove the triggers.
If you want to teach your dog not to bark, then you’re going to need to reward them for being quiet. This means lots of treats when they’re relaxed and quiet.