If you have a Dachshund, you have a barker. Dachshunds bark for many reasons – some of them reasonable and some of them unreasonable. It isn’t fair to get annoyed or angry at your Dachshund for occasional barking. He’s been bred to bark for good reasons.
Why Dachshunds bark
Dachshunds bark more than some breeds because barking was part of the original Dachshund plan. When used in hunting, a Dachshund would corner its prey and then bark loudly and sharply to alert the hunter or farmer to come and finish the job. Sometimes, the Dachshund’s bark had to be heard across great distances, or even from underground.
However, barking too much can be harmful for your Dachshund’s health. If he barks obsessively, he puts himself under a lot of physical stress. Obsessive barking can also be a sign of a health problem or a sign that your Dachshund is particularly insecure or fearful (or just mind-numbingly bored). Barking also is harmful for you. At best, you’ll find yourself continually irritated with your Dachshund. At worst, your neighbors won’t be happy with you, and if you live in an apartment, you could be asked to leave or even be evicted if the noise becomes too bothersome.
Why Dachshunds will not stop barking
- Someone is invading his territory (his house, yard, human).
- Something resembles a threat, and he thinks you should be alerted.
- Something resembles prey (a squirrel, a cat, a piece of trash blowing down the street), and he wants to get it.
- He wants to get out of wherever you’ve put him (a pen, a den, a room with a gate or closed door, a yard with a fence).
- He wants your attention or wants you to return after you’ve left.
- He’s really excited.
- He’s suspicious or fearful of someone or something, such as a visitor or a noise (for example, a ringing phone or doorbell).
- He’s bored or wants you to stop ignoring him right now.
Some of these reasons are justifiable – even desirable. If a stranger is invading your property, you want to know about it, and your Dachshund is just the guy to tell you. In such a case, you can determine who the invader is, and then you can show your Dachshund that the person is okay by letting in the visitor, or you can call the police. Praising your Dachshund for alerting you to the presence of trespassers (good or bad ones) is perfectly acceptable. However, your Dachshund also needs to know when to stop.
How to stop Dachshund barking
Centuries of breeding aside, you shouldn’t have to listen to unreasonable barking all day. You can stop barking by removing the cause. Doing so involves determining the cause first, of course (see the previous section).
But after you determine the cause of your Dachshund’s excessive barking, you don’t want to encourage it. Here are some of tips that you can follow to stop your Dachshund from barking:
1) If your Dachshund barks at everything that moves outside the front window, you need only to keep him from looking out the front window. Draw the blinds or close the curtains, or keep your Dachshund in another room.
2) If a squirrel is teasing your Dachshund in the backyard, bring your Dachshund inside.
3) If the neighborhood kids are teasing your Dachshund through the fence, shame on them. Call their parents.
4) If your Dachshund barks frantically whenever you leave him alone, begin keeping him in his den when you’re away. Also practice keeping him in his den when you’re home so that he knows his den is a safe place and doesn’t always indicate your absence. Don’t talk to your dog when he’s in the den, though. This increases the likelihood of anxiety problems.
Talk to your vet or a trainer about strategies to address severe separation anxiety if this is a problem. Separation anxiety can be effectively treated by a professional, especially if caught early.
5) If your Dachshund is really excited and barking up a storm, calm him down. A few happy barks uttered out of sheer joy when you and your Dachshund are playing together won’t hurt anything, however.
6) If your Dachshund is bored, give him something to do. Sometimes a five-minute, rousing game of fetch or a few favorite toys and a Kong stuffed with a couple of biscuits is all it takes.
7) If your Dachshund is suspicious or fearful of particular noises, you can desensitize him to these sounds by exposing him to them over and over while keeping him safe and giving him treats. You want him to associate the sounds with rewards rather than fear. Desensitization turns a negative into a positive. Ask a behaviorist or trainer for tips on how to do this – especially if you’re unsure about it or if your Dachshund seems severely traumatized by harmless sounds or objects. You don’t want to make the problem worse.
How to train Dachshund not to bark
After you eliminate all the causes you can and help your Dachshund resolve any irrational fears, your next step is to train your dog not to bark.
Generally, I would never recommend having your Dachshund debarked – a surgical procedure that alters your dog’s vocal cords to lessen the volume of barking – unless the only alternative is to abandon the pet or face legal action. In fact, many vets now refuse to do this surgery because they believe it’s cruel.
Also, shock collars and citrus spray collars are designed to discourage barking, but they punish a dog for behaving according to instinct. However, in severe cases of obsessive barking, these kinds of collars may be helpful, distracting the dog from his barking and giving you a chance to intervene and calm him down or redirect him. This is certainly preferable to debarking. Talk to your vet for more information if you have a severe case, but don’t be too quick to use any of these solutions. Give training a fair chance first.
Training your dog not to bark requires an effort contrary to your human instinct. First, when he barks, you must show no emotion whatsoever except, perhaps, for a quiet disdain. Yelling and making a big fuss only reinforces his behavior, because he thinks you’re barking along with him.
Basically, there are two major keys to training your Dachshund not to bark unreasonably:
1) Remember that some barking is justified and desirable.
2) Never, ever react to unreasonable or undesirable barking in any way except to dispassionately remove your Dachshund from the source of the barking when possible.