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Understanding why your dog is barking**

As a dog trainer from Run Free K9, LLC based in Myrtle Beach, I understand how barking can be frustrating for pet owners. However, it's important to realize that barking is a form of communication for dogs, and we shouldn't always correct them for it. Imagine how you would feel if someone kept shushing you while you were trying to speak.

There are many reasons why humans don't like barking, such as it being overstimulating, causing noise distractions for those who work from home, living in apartments with roommates, finding it triggering, or simply finding it annoying. Nonetheless, there are better ways to stop barking without always correcting your dog's communication. The first step is to understand what your dog is trying to communicate because there can be various reasons behind a bark, such as compulsive barking, alarm barking, attention-seeking, boredom, fear, separation anxiety, attention barking, territorial barking, excitement, anxiety, social facilitation, etc.

As a dog trainer, I appreciate a dog that barks to communicate with me, such as attention-seeking barking, barking to express excitement or territorial alerts. However, the problem with barking arises when it becomes excessive and obsessive. In such situations, we need to intervene, advocate, or manage it by redirecting their barking to something else.

Most people tend to yell at their dogs when they bark excessively, which only encourages them to continue barking, as they see it as a way of communicating with you. Instead, try to reshape your dog's barking pattern by using a terminal cue without any correction. Avoid using the word "no" as it can amplify their anxious feelings about certain things and situations, which can damage your relationship with the dog in the long run. Let's learn other options to resolve obsessive barking, which doesn't require correction but rather redirection. Of course, there are times when a correction is necessary, but it's best to only provide it if it's a must. So, help your dog's barking by proactively setting them up for success through fun pattern games. (We will dive more into transformational pattern games in our next blog post.)

How you interrupt obsessive barking depends on what works best for your dog. You can let your dog alert bark, say "thank you," and reward them. If they bark at the UPS delivery person, you can focus on recalls away from the door or window or redirect them to a scattered feed of treats or kibbles. You can also redirect stress barking with boredom-busting enrichment options. For instance, you can use a snuffle mat in your hall by the door to help with those random surprise deliveries with a reactive dog. Or use a treat dispenser every time there is a knock at the door or when they bark at a squirrel to make a sound and dispense treats away from their trigger.

Attention-seeking behaviors are adorable, sweet, and loving. When my old husky gets vocal, it's usually a demand for belly rubs, and I indulge her because I love her. Some people see attention-seeking behavior as pushy reminders that they haven't had playtime or are out of water, and many dogs bark for medical alerts, which can be very helpful. By shutting down your dog's barking, you could be losing out on letting them truly communicate with you.

For service dogs like Oak, learn more here: Meet Sir Oak Legends- My service dog in training. ( it's essential never to correct barking or any other forms of communication, as it's vital that service dogs can communicate with their handlers. If you are interested in therapy or service work, I highly recommend looking into fun pattern games that you can work on to redirect reactivity without shutting down their form of communication.

Remember that barking is an important aspect of dog training and should be taken seriously. Be patient as your dog learns how to communicate appropriately. And always remember that Run Free K9 is here to help you become the best dog trainer in town! Learn how to better communicate with your beloved furry friend @

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