Dogs were crowned man’s best friend with good reason. But not even they lack some issues. In the list of these issues, the most irritating one is the habit of barking when left home alone. As a proud dog owner working in the 9-5 routine, there is bound to be a time when your dog is left home alone. If the problem is not tamed, you risk steadily slipping down your neighbors’ favorite list.
Why does your dog always bark when left alone? Knowing the answer to this question is the first step to stop dog barking when not home. Dogs with this problem fit several profiles which we will discuss below. To stop dog barking when not home, you must understand the cause.
In Their Genes!
For most terriers (if not all) and small dogs like Poodles, Maltese, and Miniature Schnauzer, barking is a pre-programmed feature. Barking is triggered by movement or noise within range. In their defense, they never imagined living in a time like this where every appliance in the house makes a beep or a sound of some kind. These dogs used to be watchdogs which barked in the event of a breakage but nowadays a ringing phone will set them off.
If such is your dog, she/he must be trained to control barking. With a trained dog, you will be able to turn the barking “on” and “off”. This is not suppressing your dog but rather wanting them to bark at appropriate times.
The Alpha Dog
These type of dogs are all about territory. They are mostly unneutered males and the guarding dogs. Through their barking tantrums, these dogs believe they are protecting their yard and any space they wish. For these dogs, barking is triggered by anything they perceive as intruders including a fellow passing dog, mailman or the arrival of a neighbor.
With these dogs, neutering can turn off the territorial and overprotective behavior thus limiting “senseless” barking. Training also tunes up the protective instincts of your dog. In your home, put structures in place (like replacing your chain-link face with a blockade) to block the dog’s view of the property lines and keep the dog away from patrolling the front yard which should help avoid encounters which set off the barking.
Fun filled dogs
These dogs simply don’t like being left alone because, for them, the fun stops the moment you walk out the door. They give you the guilt stare in an attempt to keep you from leaving which is always in vain.
For this profile of a dog, engaging toys will lower his/her demands. Have an “only-when-am-gone” toy with your scent which you leave him/her chewing on when you leave for work or other errands.
Some breeds such as retrievers, setters, pointers among others are road runners; bred to work all the time. In the face of urbanization, these dogs are finding themselves doing less physical exercises as they should which results in anxiety exhibited through pacing, barking and digging. Most of these dogs need a minimum of two hours of intense aerobic exercises a day.
When you are leaving the house for an extended period – usually more than 6 hours – aim to have your dog engaged in a vigorous activity for at least an hour prior. Leaving an exhausted dog behind coupled with a food dispensing toy is likely to reduce barking.
Fear and Anxiety filled dogs
In addition to the small breeds, dogs that have been through the “foster” system will experience fear and anxiety when left alone. These are the dogs which have moved from one home to another. In their past, they have likely experienced minimal socialization, overprotection, and isolation. Consequently, they suffer separation anxiety when left home alone characterized by barking, soiling the house and constant digging at the door.
These dogs require proper re-introduction into the world through proper socialization. Engaging the dog in obedience work with a fair share of praise will build confidence and ultimately a stable dog.
This is aimed at reducing the space for your dog when leaving by confining them to a kennel crate. This works especially well with anxious dogs which calm down when confined in a box as they have less space to worry about. However, dogs with severe anxiety problems like rescue dogs will go mad if confined.
Darken the rooms when you leave to stop dog barking when not home. A darker house has a claiming effect on most dogs as it reduces visual stimuli for the dog while at the same time muffling sounds from outside.
Leave the radio and TV on to mirror the environment that exists when you home. Dogs are used to the TV and radio being on from morning to the odd hours of the night when you are home thus leaving the dog in deafening silence will more than likely trigger barking.