Barking is the main way that dogs communicate. They will bark when they want food, when excited to see you, if they spot a stranger, or if they are stressed out. If there is one thing the Dachshund has taught dog lovers, it is that though all dogs bark, not all do it all the time, and certainly that all barks are not created equal. For such a small-sized dog breed, the Dachshund has a loud bark that rivals that of dogs many times his size. And while as a Dachshund owner you probably adore your dog, your neighbors may not think the same, what with him waking them up at odd hours of the night. Below are reasons why Dachshunds bark so much.
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The Root of the Behavior
First off, Dachshunds bark so much because they can; they were given the lungs to handle the job. Not only do they bark incessantly but their barks are also quite loud, a super ability owing to their large lungs which are located behind their huge chests. Whereas their size and agility made them a suitable breed for hunting small-sized animals, their bark increases their effectiveness as hunters. Another trait that makes Dachshunds a suitable hunting breed is their energy levels. This trait, however, can work against them when they are restricted in a house. This is because hunting provides an avenue necessary for an energetic dog to burn off excess stamina through adequate stimulation and exercise. When you leave your Dachshund indoors, he will not have a place to channel his energy, he will get bored, and he will start barking because he wants you to take him for a run. In addition to their energy, Dachshunds are naturally happy and playful, which can increase their frustration levels when they don’t get enough attention.
As with all dogs that are bred for hunting, domestication did not impact the Dachshund’s prey drive. Even from behind the walls of your apartment, your Dachshund will react to any movement from squirrels, birds, badgers, moles, cats, other dogs, and even humans. His prey drive tells him he needs to chase after all these sounds. Dachshunds also bark so much because they are territorial. If they see or sense a person approaching, they immediately perceive him or her as a threat and start barking. You may notice that your Dachshund tends to bark when the mailman does his rounds, when people are leaving or coming back to their apartments, or when garbage is being collected. All these patterns indicate that he is protecting his territory. Separation anxiety can also be a reason why your dog barks so much. You can tell if the barking is anxiety-related if your Dachshund barks when you leave. Sometimes, he will even start barking before you get to the door. He is simply trying to tell you he doesn’t want you to leave.
Encouraging the Behavior
Excessive barking is not ideal, especially in a city setting where your neighbors live a stone’s throw away. There are different ways to control excessive barking in your dog and all of them require commitment and a considerable measure of work from you. As mentioned above, Dachshunds are active dogs and they need a lot of exercise to stay balanced. It is therefore worth mentioning that if you are considering getting a dog, your activity level should determine whether a Dachshund is the right dog breed for you. If you don’t like a lot of activity, you will have an unhappy dog and a lot of complaining neighbors. With that said, the first thing you need to do to minimize your dog’s barking is to provide an environment that suits his personality.
If you don’t have a yard for him to run around in, take him to the dog park for a daily walk or run. To address separation anxiety and boredom, give your dog a chew toy to keep him busy when you are not around. You should also expose him to different places, sounds, and people as sufficient socialization has been shown to reduce anxiety. Further, your Dachshund will adapt to your absence if you leave him with a sitter, preferably one who caters to other dogs. Training and reinforcing commands will help stop incessant barking. By using rewards and repetition, you can train your dog to associate silence with rewards, which will discourage barking because he will know there is nothing to be gained by it.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Reward-based methods of training are recommended over aversive methods especially when handling anxiety-related behavioral issues. Though some trainers recommend using aversive methods such as negative reinforcement and positive punishment to teach a new behavior, a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in 2017 found that such methods can negatively affect your dog’s health in the long run. If, for instance, you use a crate as a tool for controlling separation anxiety, ensure your dog associates it with a happy and safe place and not a place he is put when he is being punished.
Other approaches such as yelling have been found to increase incessant barking rather than decrease it. This is because when you yell at your dog, he will perceive this as a form of attention and since that is what he wants from you, your yelling will only encourage him to keep barking. He will therefore never recognize your yelling as a command. Lastly, using anti-bark gadgets and products that dissuade your dog from barking is also effective in the short term only. These products should also be used only if prescribed by a dog behaviorist or a veterinarian.
Can you imagine what it is like having a house mate who talks all the time, so that even when he is not around you hear his voice in your head? A dog that barks all the time has the same effect on your neighbors! Even for you, getting your Dachshund’s barking under control will allow you to enjoy his company more.