Barking is a common problem among many pet owners. Whether it’s directed at you, or at the window to those passing by. No matter what the situation is it can be frustrating, loud and downright annoying. The reason behind the barking can be difficult to determine, but once you’ve ruled out any physical motivations, it’s time to turn to the mental side. Barking often occurs because of the feelings dogs are experiencing, including, boredom, frustration, stress, and over-arousal to name a few.
So how do we deal with that? Simple! We give them a task that mentally stimulates them! The number of ways to do this can be overwhelming, so I am going to suggest one product to try.
The Kong Quest Bone. This is a simple design made of flexible, yet durable material, making it ideal for those dogs who need to put all their attention into a constructive task. There is a saying in the Dog Training World. “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” This is exactly what we are trying to achieve. Because barking feels good and is often rewarded however unintentionally, this increases the likely hood that it will happen again, so preparedness is key for this to be helpful.
Before you go to bed, get your Kong Quest Bone and fill it with a soft delicious creat for your dog. Such as peanut butter, soft dog food, cheese wiz, or greek yogurt. You may choose to put something hard with the soft food such as dog cookies, or fruit and veg. Once your bone is prepared, place it in the freezer so it is ready when you need it tomorrow.
Now, this part is crucial, you need to observe your dog, you may find it helpful to watch your dog for the next few days and write down key information in a notebook when they are particularly ‘barky.’ Look at your notes after a few days and see if you notice any patterns. The key is to give your dog their Kong Quest before the barking hour emerges, as not to reinforce it once it starts happening.
Make sure to give the Bone in a calm, relatively quiet environment. We are wanting the dog to focus all its energy on getting the food out of the toy. This mental effort will drain the dog, as well as allow them to self-soothe by licking and chewing the toy.
As I stated before, barking is often caused by boredom, and while it seems like we are just using the food toy to distract the dog, we are going beyond that in actually promoting thinking by having them problem solve, burning energy and encouraging calm behaviours. Enrichment is important for every dog whether they are displaying these behaviours or not. By adding this type of enrichment you are giving your dog appropriate ways to burn energy and keep themselves entertained.