How can I solve barking from boredom?
The most common cause for problem barking is boredom. The best way to fix this is to give your dog more exercise and give him more things to do when he is alone.
Most dogs should have at least an hour of walking each day. Really athletic dogs should have an hour of running or other intense play such as playing fetch or learning a new dog sport. Your local pet sitter is a great place to start if you don’t have the time or physical fitness to exercise your dog more.
Enrichment is a term used by zoos and behaviorists to talk about what you can bring to an animal or person to allow them to act out normal behaviors as much as possible. In a zoo they will add things as simple as cardboard boxes covered in the scents of prey animals to predator enclosures to provide enrichment. Providing enrichment to your dog at home can be as simple as giving them a new bone, or as complicated as hiding treat dispensing toys all over the house or yard.
In a future post I will talk more about enrichment items that you can make and use at home, as well as ones that are currently on the market.
Another way to help with boredom barking is a fantastic gadget called the AutoTrainer by PetSafe which was invented by Ian Dunbar. The way the AutoTrainer works is to teach your dog that when he is quite, he will be rewarded by a treat dispensing machine. The machine also logs the barks so you can tell when you get home how well it is working to keep your dog quiet.
With any barking problem, always expect it to get worse before it gets better.
Laura Azevedo CPDT-KA