How to Keep Your Small Dog From Barking Too Much
If you have been around a lot of dogs, you may notice that dogs of all sizes bark, but some dogs are more vocal than others. A German shepherd or Rottweiler may bark a lot, but not nearly as often as some of the Chihuahuas or Yorkshire terriers I have seen over the years. Part of the problem with small breeds is their easily detectable high pitch. Pitch, however, isn't everything.
Let's explore why small dogs bark more frequently than others and discuss some effective methods to keep it to a minimum.
Five Ways Stop a Small Dog From Acting Up
- Ignore barking for attention. Do not allow your dog to bark at you to get attention (i.e., when he/she wants up on the bed or couch).
- Discourage growling when it leads to barking. Never allow your dog to growl and start barking without telling him/her “no." If they growl at another dog, a visitor, or a child, give them a “time out."
- No lap time without being invited up. Do not allow your dog to jump up on your lap without being called.
- Establish your territory. If you want to let your dog sleep in your bed, have him/her do so at your feet. He/she does not need a pillow.
- Feed your dog strategically. Feed your dog in his/her own bowl after the family has finished their meal. You can change this rule later if you want, but remind your dog that you are in charge.
Did You Know
The record number of barks goes to a small dog that barked over 900 times in ten minutes.
Train Your Small Dog to Bark Less
Are some dog breeds more likely to vocalize than others? Sure, and if you choose a Maltese, a miniature schnauzer, or a terrier breed, you need to start training your puppy early. Even though you can train your dog to vocalize less, some breeds are more likely to use a bark every time they feel the need.
Not all small dogs need to bark more than big dogs, however. Dog owners will try anything, like shock collars or citronella spray/standard bark collars, but some of them are cruel and most of the time these collars do not work. Some dogs modify the pitch of their barks so that the bark collars no longer work, and others will just wait until the collar is off and then start vocalizing as much as before.
Bark collars and shock collars are often ineffective. Shock collars are even considered cruel.
Prevent Your Dog From Becoming an Excessive Barker
If you are the owner of a solitary French bulldog or one of the other small, quieter dog breeds, here are a few simple methods to keep him/her from becoming an excessive barker:
- Never ignore an alert bark. Pay attention when he/she is alerting you. If they go to the door to bark at a stranger, praise them with “good dog." Tell them to lie down in their bed while you deal with the distraction. (Barking once to alert you is fine. Vocalizing excessively is not.)
- Always ignore unnecessary barking. Ignore your dog when they start barking for no reason or if they are being bossy. If your dog keeps at it even when you ignore them, do not yell or give any form of attention.
- Never reward attention-seeking barking. If your little dog comes up to you and barks to get up on your lap, tell them “no." Once the barking stops, allow them up after a five-minute break. If you want to let your small dog sleep in your bed, tell them when they are allowed up, not vice versa.
- Exercise excess energy away. Although your dog is small, he/she still needs daily exercise. Take him/her for long walks, and allow some of those outings to be “smellfests” where they have a chance to sniff markings on fire hydrants and other objects. If your dog is tired and content from walking, he/she is going to be less likely to establish dominance by barking excessively.
- Confine them from the pack. If you have more than one dog, confine them as soon as they start barking. He/she will learn that barking excessively leads to isolation from the pack.
Reasons Small Dogs Bark More
Lack of Training
Little dogs vocalize excessively and get away without training or other corrective measures.
If you are a little dog, your barks are more likely to be ignored. Small dogs have to vocalize more to be noticed.
Small dogs are often rewarded for their barking (by being fed, brought inside the house, put up on a lap, couch, or bed, etc.).
Some small dogs are bred to be barkers. (Shelties, some terriers, and schnauzers are a few examples.)
Owners tend to have many small dogs because they are easier to keep in numbers. When one barks, they all feel the need to join in.
What Is Small Dog Syndrome?
Many dog experts refer to “small dog syndrome.” This is a condition that develops only in little dogs that are treated differently around the house. They are allowed to bark when they want attention, they are allowed to growl without being reprimanded, and they are allowed to jump up on their owner's lap whenever they please. These dogs are often allowed to sleep at the head of the bed, rest on the couch when the family is in the living room, and are fed special meals with the family.
Small dog syndrome develops in little dogs who feel a need to express their dominance among their human family. Dogs that behave in this way are allowed to bark excessively. Would a Rottweiler or a Doberman be allowed to bark at visitors or other dogs on the street?
Small dog syndrome is a common excuse for a barking little dog and is one of the hardest behaviors to remove because owners are often reluctant to treat them differently. Small dogs that are allowed to behave this way are also the easiest to train out of this bad habit.
Prevent Barking Habits Early
Genetics has a lot to do with it, and if you have a breed that barks a lot, there is more work involved. No one wants a dog that vocalizes too much, no matter the size. Neighbors that have to live next to a vocal dog are more likely to become “anti-dog.”
If you have a dog that is barking excessively, try to do something about it. Although you will have better luck training a puppy not to bark, even older dogs can be trained to bark less if worked with. You should start as soon as possible for the best result.
Not all small dogs need to bark more. This little maltese was taught that excessive vocalization was not allowed in his household and never developed the symptoms of "small dog syndrome."
Are you the cause of your little dog´s Small Dog Syndrome
More on Barking
- Do Dogs Bark at Ghosts?
Why do dogs bark at ghosts? Is there a difference in "normal" and ghost barking? Only read this if you are not able to explain your dog´s late night barking!
- Why Teaching a Dog When to Bark Also Trains Him When to Stop
This article will give you instructions on how to teach your dog to bark on command, which is the best way to train him to stop barking excessively.
- 3 Ways to Train a Dog Not to Bark
The main cause of excessive barking in dogs is boredom, usually lack of exercise. Learn what to do.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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© 2014 Dr Mark