Reader Question on Night Barking Followed By Suggestion From Our Vet
My Jack Russell is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. During the day he is the calmest dog, but during the night he starts barking. I don't understand the reason: every day I play with him, I go out to have a walk, there are no territorial issues.
I tried to play more during the day but nothing. I also tried using a squirt bottle but after a couple of days, he started barking again. The neighborhood is quite upset, so what can I do?Suggestion From Our Veterinarian on Night Barking
I’m afraid I would need a lot more information before I could make a determination as to why your dog is barking
at night (for instance, where he is and where you are when this happens) and the best way to address it.
Veterinarians typically start these types of workups with a physical exam to rule out any medical reasons behind the behavior in question and to confirm that the dog is healthy and a potential candidate for the medications (e.g., those that relieve anxiety) that might be needed. I can’t give you a specific plan for your dog, but in general terms, behavioral modification almost always involves rewarding dogs (e.g., with praise and treats) when they are acting the way that we want them to and then gradually introducing watered down versions of the stimulus that sets them off. We continue rewarding them if they remain calm and back off on the stimulus if they can’t seem to handle it. The behavioral modification does take time (weeks to months, typically), but with patience, your dog should be able to learn to not bark during the night.
Your veterinarian may be able to help you with this situation or put you in touch with someone who can. Alternatively, the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
has a listing of specialists on their website.
Best of luck,
Jennifer Coates, DVM