July 1, 2010 "Ask Seth"
My 1-1/2 year old Morkie barks excessively at everything; doesn't matter what it is. Is there anything I can do to change this behavior?
I have a 1-1/2 year old female Morkie (mom-Yorkie; dad-Maltese). She barks at EVERYTHING and it’s getting worse. Whether it is a car honking on television, a noise outside, or one of the kids coming out of their bedroom, she goes nuts. Is there anything I can do to desensitize her and/or change this behavior?
Gracie does not bark to annoy you. Dogs will commonly bark for the following reasons: attention seeking, anxiety, playfulness, boredom and warning. The warning alert is probably the reason that she is barking excessively. She is saying “I am in here to protect this place.” The good news is that you can help her with this behavior. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Make sure Gracie gets plenty of exercise. This will reduce the pent up energy she uses to bark.
2. Avoid leaving her alone for long period of time if at all possible.
3. Yelling at her to stop barking will not help; it can actually make her barking worse. Also, try to avoid shock collars and debarking surgery. These are cruel and do not always work.
4. When Gracie is barking, get her attention with a clap or a whistle. When she is quiet, redirect her attention to something else and reward her with a treat or playtime with her favorite toy.
5. After getting Gracie's attention, practice basic commands, like "sit, stay and down" in order to divert her attention.
5. Train your dog to speak and when to be quiet. This will allow her to perfect her bark when you want it.
If after a few weeks Gracie continues this excessive barking behavior, contact a trainer or your veterinarian; they will be able to put you in contact with others who can help.
Good luck and have patience.
Seth Mayersohn, CVT