The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Our Barking Dogs. A reality check for dog partners.


Our Barking Dogs

A reality check for dog partners.

By Sherry Clark – Brainy Dog

I love dogs. I’ve always loved dogs and I don’t mind their barking. To me it’s just another beautiful language on our diverse planet. Most of the time that is.

We expect a lot from dogs. We’ve taken them from the wild, ask them to hunt for us, guard property and catch bad doers. They protect livestock and play with our kids. We train them to be our legs, hands, eyes and ears plus keep our anxiety in check. We ignore them all day and expect tail wagging when we return home. After all they do for us we have the nerve to say; “Oh, Dogs, while you’re at it, making our lives better and all, would you mind not speaking in your own language? 

Two types of barking:

“Important Barking” and “Over-barking”. Important Barking, good,
Over-barking, bad. Do these statements hit home?

I know when a squirrel is on my fence without looking.

With guests, my voice becomes louder than my dogs barking. 

When I leave for work, I hear my dogs bark a ¼ mile from hoe.

Neighbors don’t seem to like me.

Animal Control sent me a letter on tips to quiet my dog.

Fill in the blank. My dog barks too much when _____ .

Qualified Over-Barker?
What is your dog saying, in his or her language? Reduce barking by providing what they need before they need it. That way they don’t have to bark to get your attention. Provide water all the time. Provide high quality food every day. Provide comfortable shelter, preferably in the house. Share companionship, affection, touch, appreciation, communication. Create activities for mental stimulation, socialization, fun & exercise. Put them on a schedule. The reality check is to actually write how you accomplish each of these items. If you personally can’t provide everything, hire someone who can. You’re not a bad dog parent if you work for a living. There are lots of resources for pets including walkers, day care, training, field trips, grooming etc. 

Still got Over-Barking?
Call a Dog Trainer. “Positive Reinforcement” Trainers (reward/treat trainers) can change barking habits without force. No bark collars (as a trainer, I hate them), no sonic tones, no spanking, no rolled up news paper, no holding your dogs mouth shut. Just make the commitment, pick up the phone and reward yourself with ice cream.

Can you do it yourself?
You already use similar techniques with people. Reward good behavior. Ignore bad behavior. Ask yourself: What DO I want my dog to do when guests arrive? Silly human, saying “I DON’T want my dog to bark” doesn’t count. What DO you want your dog to do? Say “I WANT my dog to lie down on her bed when guest knock on my door”. Okay, now let’s convince her lying down is more fun than barking.

Don’t know where to start?
That’s my job. You’ll see, or um, hear progress each weekly session as dogs becomes more relaxed.


Brainy Dog is a local Sonoma County business and makes home visits from
Healdsburg to Petaluma and from Sonoma to Bodega Bay.
Sherry Clark (707) 922 6344., Find us on