Dear Dogs Life,
How do I stop my Cavoodle, Ollie, from barking at anything that sounds like a knock at the door, people approaching or cars pulling up? It’s driving me crazy, even though I adore him!
– Deb Willmott, via Facebook
Karin Larsen Bridge says: Dogs have been valued for their sentry duties for thousands of years, warning us of approaching intruders. These days, however, in our crowded urban areas, it is hard for dogs to tell the “bad guys” from the “good guys”, and some become overly reactive and barky.
Sometimes removing the dog’s view of the world — such as closing the front curtains — is enough to reduce the barking. Masking noises with a low-volume radio may also work. If the barking is anxiety related, using something such as a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) diffuser may also help.
It is often easier to reduce the barking than to try to stop it altogether. When your dog does bark, make sure you stay calm, move slowly and don’t join in the excitement by yelling at her or rushing around; rather, take the attitude of “good girl, thanks for letting me know — that’s enough”. Reward her for alerting you to the situation, then pay her for being quiet (a few small treats delivered slowly) as you take charge —checking that no one is in fact there. Sometimes simply acknowledging the situation is enough to reassure the dog that the sound is nothing to worry about.