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Q & A — Excessive Barking

My new rescue Demeter goes really crazy when someone comes to our door. She barks so much that I need to take her into another room, but she still doesn’t stop! Any advice as how to get her to quiet down? It’s so embarrassing. Other than that she is an angel.

Socialize, socialize, socialize. Ask your friends and family to come over, have them knock or ring the doorbell, then work with her to stay quiet. She can bark once or twice to alert you, but after that she needs to learn that her job has been done and it’s time to be quiet. Reward her with small treats when she is quiet, then let your visitor enter and introduce her to the newcomer, let them get down on her level to say hello, and reward good behavior with tasty tidbits.

It will take some time to undo old habits, and it hinges on you being able to socialize her and work with her, but within a few weeks to a couple of months (depending on how often and how much time you can put into working with her on the no barking policy) she will adapt and come around. 

Also, take her wherever you can, go to dog friendly stores with her, get her out at the park as much as possible. If you have friends or family you can visit with her, do so as much as possible. Even better if they have sociable animals because you can socialize her with other pets. The only way to truly overcome this sort of behavior is to expose her to as many different people and situations as you can, and reward her for good behavior along the way.

And of course, exercise. Sadly, most small dogs don’t get out as often as they should. People tend to think, ‘well, he / she runs around inside so much / plays in the backyard, that’s enough’, but it isn’t. All dogs need to walk, and if your dog is high energy (I’ve got two, one is the energizer bunny that keeps on going and going and going, the other is a tank who tires out within 20 – 30 minutes and is ready to relax) then it will need even more exercise. Tired dogs are happy dogs, and far less prone to neurotic barking.