Putting a Leash on Labrador Barking
Labradors may be the most popular breed of dogs in the United States, but labrador barking is not the most popular sound. It is acceptable in moderation and even necessary at times, but it can cross the line between acceptable and irritating rather quickly. If your goal is to control labrador barking, it makes sense to start with a look at why labs bark in the first place.
REASONS FOR BARKING
We may not be able to read a dog’s mind, but the things that inspire labrador barking are not among the mysteries of the universe. Situations that can set it off include boredom, fear, protection and need. If you can rule out the possibility that the dog is barking in response to a specific need, the approach used to control labrador barking is similar regardless of the cause. First, however, be sure that the dog is not barking because of thirst, hunger, injury or illness.
THE FIRST KEY TO CONTROL
Labrador barking, like most problem behaviors, requires consistency above all else if it is to be controlled. The proper approach is never to reward the dog for barking and always reward it when it stops, as eventually it must. Attention is a form of reward for a dog who is barking out of boredom, even if that attention consists of being scolded. Ignoring the dog is an absolute necessity. Once the barking stops and the dog is quiet, it is time to lay on the praise, perhaps along with a treat. This routine has to occur each time the barking starts for it to have any chance of success.
A SECOND OPTION
If the first approach does not seem to be having the desired effect, it may be necessary to turn to something different to control labrador barking. Consistency is still an absolute requirement, but this option requires intervention while the dog is barking. Select a word that you will use for each episode of barking, whether the word is “Quiet” or “Stop.” It does not even have to be an actual word, as long as it is the only word used to control barking. Say it clearly and firmly and, when the barking stops, follow it up with a treat. Once again, the key is consistency. Trainers have also had success using a noisemaker in place of a command. A common suggestion is a can filled with pennies or pebbles. Rattling it may interrupt the barking long enough for the dog to be praised for being quiet.
DEVICES THAT MAY HELP
In some situations, whether because the problem is so severe or because it has been impossible to obtain real consistency in training, labrador barking can be controlled with the aid of a simple device. Collars are available that will make a loud sound, emit a spray into the dog’s face or deliver a mild electric shock when the dog begins to bark.