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Did you know that one of the main reasons dogs are turned in to shelters is because of behavioral problems? One of the best investments you can make is to enlist the help of a dog trainer or behaviorist soon after adopting your dog.  A few months of training will result in a lifetime of pleasure for both you and your animal. Most large pet supply stores such as PETCO and PETsMART offer dog training classes. Or, ask your vet for a referral.

Five of the most common reasons dogs are turned in to shelters include the following:

Barking
House training problems
Chewing
Digging
Separation anxiety

There also are many excellent online resources to help with your behavioral questions. Here are just a few:

www.hsus.org
www.aspca.org
www.bestfriends.org


BARKING

The first thing you need to do in order to quiet a chronic barker is to figure out why he's barking in the first place. Is he lonely or bored? Do you spend enough time with him? Remember that dogsare pack animals and prefer the company of other animals and/or humans.

Most dogs will not be happy sitting by themselves in the backyard with nothing to do (except bark!) Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to occupy his mind and his need to chew. And make sure you spend quality time with him. Take him for walks and bring him inside the house everyday for some "family" time. Dogs really love being with their people!

If your dog barks at night, bring him inside the house or garage. Most dogs prefer sleeping inside anyway (remember, dogs are not solitary creatures by nature.)  Relocating your dog away from immediate neighbors to another area of your yard might eliminate barking. Another good solution is to adopt another animal so your dog will have a companion.

Bark collars are a wonderful tool in training your dog not to bark. They can be purchased at pet stores or can be ordered online for a lower price. These new age collars do not hurt your dog in any way, they simply reprimand the bark. This may startle your dog at first but after a few times they associate the reprimand with the bark and learn to do their everyday activities with out barking.

In extreme cases, you might consider having your dog "de-barked." De-barking is a procedure in which the vocal cords are surgically removed. In most cases, the dog will come home the day of the procedure. The barking sound will still be audible but will be more like a whisper. Consult your veterinarian for more information about de-barking.

Barking is the number one cause of neighbor disputes. Remember, it is unlawful to allow your dog to become a public nuisance. Chronic barking is a serious problem but there are many possible solutions. Investing some time, money, and energy to solving the problem will be well worth the effort, for you and your dog!

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