The key to solving this problem is uncovering the cause of the barking.
Your dog is barking primarily for a number of — logical to him — reasons:
- It’s in his nature. Some breeds are genetically conditioned to bark when there is a movement or noise within their range: Nearly all terriers and many small dogs like Lhasa Aposos, Poodles and Schnauzers have this barking response hard-wired into their brains; training is the only solution for this type of offender.
- Hey, get off of my turf! Un-neutered males and guarding breed types need to protect their yard, their house, and even the air above against all “”intruders:”" Neutering may lessen the protective and territorial instincts, but training is also necessary. Another good idea is making sure the dog can’t see what’s happening along his “”property lines”" (for example, using a board fence instead of a chain-link); you can also try keeping him from “”patrolling”" high traffic areas like the front door or front porch.
- Ho, hum, what to do? Sporting, hound and herding breeds are workaholics bred to work all day, and if they find themselves in a situation where they do not get enough exercise (like a fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan) they get bored and they start barking. Most of these dogs need two or more hours of vigorous activity each day. If you’re going to be gone for more than six hours, you need to engage this kind of dog in at least an hour of mentally engaging, physically demanding PT before you leave.
- What was that? What was that? Dogs that have been coddled or overprotected, like toy and miniature breed types, and dogs that have been shuffled from home to home or in and out of shelters may be fearful and neurotic, suffering from separation anxiety when you leave them on their own. Barking is one of their responses to this fear (chewing, house soiling and digging are others). The majority of these dogs can gain confidence and so lose this behavior through proper socialization and obedience work. Some stressed-out dogs also feel more comfortable in a covered kennel crate because there’s less “”space”" to fret over. This strategy may aggravate the problem in other dogs, however, so check with your vet or a professional dog trainer before shutting your pet in such a small space.