Yapping Dog Tips and Tidbits

posted: 05/15/12
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You Say Barking, the Neighbors Say Yapping: How to Quiet Your Small Dog
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You're at your wits' end. Your beloved dog simply won't shut up. Every time there's a noise outside or someone comes to the door, your dog begins barking. Meanwhile, your neighbors are becoming less and less enchanted with your pet by the minute. What's a responsible owner to do?

Worse Than Their Bite

Dogs bark in response to how they feel. They're more likely to bark when angry, scared bored or excited. We'll start with anger and fear first. Since anger and fear are both negative emotions, the best way to cure your dog from barking is to find the source of the problem. By taking care of the core issue, you can remove the stimulus that's causing your dog to bark.

Taking it Slowly

In some cases, you may not be able to eliminate the stimulus that triggers your dog's response. For example, imagine your dog begins barking whenever your dishwasher turns on. You aren't keen on the idea of washing all those dishes by hand every day, so you'd like a solution.

The key is to introduce your dog to the stimulus slowly and reward your dog for not barking. You may have to start at the other end of your house or apartment. Bring your dog closer to the dishwasher gradually, rewarding your dog with little treats as you get closer. This may take several attempts over the course of many days. If your dog begins to bark, you may have moved too quickly and will need to step back. Gradually, your dog will become accustomed to the stimulus and won't react by barking.

Bringing Out the Big (Water) Guns

While positive reinforcement can help train your dog to stop barking, sometimes you need to use a little negative reinforcement, too. When your dog barks, use a commanding tone to reprimand your dog. You may want to accompany your command with a minor physical punishment such as squirting a little water at the dog's face. The important thing to remember is that you don't want to hurt the dog at all -- you just want to introduce a consequence that the dog finds unpleasant. You must act quickly for the dog to associate the consequence with barking. And don't forget to praise your dog when it stops barking.

Play Time!

If your dog's barking doesn't seem to be in response to any particular stimulus, it may mean your dog is bored or frustrated. The best way to cure this type of nuisance barking is to play with and exercise your dog. A few energetic play sessions will keep your dog happy and occupied. Dogs are more likely to settle down and be quiet after exercise. Obedience training is another good idea. Your dog will find obedience training to be physically and mentally stimulating. As the dog learns new behaviors, it's less likely to become bored or frustrated. Ultimately, you'll have a happier -- and quieter -- dog. That should make the neighbors happy, too!

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Stick to the Rules
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There are some general guidelines that small dog play groups should observe. One standard rule requires that all dogs in the group be up to date on their vaccinations. Kids are usually kept from the dogs' play area; overstimulation can harm the little pups. Food is also usually kept out of the play area to prevent dog fights. Females in heat are asked to stay home.

The size of the play group is also a consideration. Not everyone can make it out to the dog park at the same time, so you probably won't see every member will be at every event. Even when you're planning on some absences, it's important to keep the numbers manageable. The American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends that a safe play group size is six to 10 dogs.

If you explore your town, you'll probably find a number of public areas where dogs can be off their leashes. But don't rule out something closer to home...since your group is for small dogs, backyards and smaller parks can be good venues. Getting the word out about the play group shouldn't be difficult, either. A number of Web sites host discussion boards for all manner of groups, and arranging play group dates through these sites is easy and usually free. Area veterinarians, groomers and dog day cares may also allow fliers for the group to be posted at their places.

The benefits of a play group for small dogs are enormous. Older dogs tend to socialize younger dogs; all of the members get much-needed exercise, and owners get to meet other small dog lovers.

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