How do I get my small dog to listen?
This is a common response for many small dog owners, and if your pet is in the excessive barking category you are not alone. Many small dogs dogs express themselves through barking for a variety of reasons.
The first step to tackling this annoying problem is to understand why your small dog is barking. Then you can take the necessary action steps to help curb this behavior.
1. Your small dog is a pack animal. The foundational social structure of our canines both large and small is to travel and commune in packs. If your dog is the one and only of your household, then you and other family members are a part of that pack. Multiple dogs will begin to take on the characteristics of a pack. This means that your dog(s) must guard their territory. A quick, repetitive mid-range pitched bark means a warning that there is an intruder and that the pack must be warned in order to be protected.
A great way to stop this type of barking is to remain calm, and don’t yell at your small dog. He/she will only see this as barking along with the pack. In order to get your small do to listen you must be assertive in commanding your dog to stop barking, and if necessary move them to another area in the room and away from the intrusion until the barking has stopped. This may need repeated correction until the problem is resolved. After your small dog has stopped barking, praise them with a treat to reinforce their new behavior.
2. Small dogs need your attention. Because they are pack animals, small dogs have an innate desire to be near their family members and when separated can experience anxiety and or loneliness, which can lead to prolonged incessant barking in order to get your attention.
Barking back or yelling at your small dog will only give him/her the attention they are seeking. A firm ‘No,’ command followed with praise and a treat for good behavior will help your canine understand when to bark. If you are not able to spend enough quality time with your pet due to work, consider hiring a pet sitter for an hour a day.
3. Barking is a way to communicate a need. Because this is the only way your small dog can communicate, pay attention to their pattern of barking. A single, sharp bark may indicate that they are hungry or need to go outside. Be sure to praise your small dog to reinforce this as a positive response.
There are many more reasons our small dogs bark, such a pain response or even playful barking. Understanding their cues will help show your canine when it is appropriate to bark and when not to. Expecting our small dogs to not bark is an unnatural expectation, since barking is ingrained in them. Calm, assertive responses along with positive reinforcement will take your training a long way and will help you to get your small listen to your commands.