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While there are many wonderful things about corgis, and dogs in general, there are some behaviors that also come along that we wish we could avoid. Barking is one of the major concerns that many dog owners have about their dogs, and corgis tend to bark a lot!
All dogs bark on some level, but it often seems excessive coming from a corgi. However, looking at their breed history provides a good background on why they bark more than some other breeds. Knowing the reason your corgi is barking is the first step in limiting the noise.
The original purpose of the corgi is to herd livestock, specifically cattle. As a small dog, barking is one of the ways they can pressure the animals into moving in the direction they want.
Nipping, another common behavior problem seen in corgis, also stems from needing a way to move livestock that didn’t want to move on their own.
Not only can this barking help move animals in their job as a herding dog, but it’s also a useful way for them to alert the farmer to any potential threat.
The fields and pastures that many animals spend their time in are large, and not impervious to outside threats. By barking at changes, the corgi actually serves a purpose in protecting the livestock as well.
Is my corgi barking for attention?
If your corgi is not working on a farm, they don’t have any livestock to herd or protect. However, that doesn’t mean their barking goes away!
Instead, you may find your corgi barking for a multitude of other reasons, including boredom.
Often, we see corgis barking for attention when they are bored. If they are content, and have all the exercise, training, and affection that they need, there’s no reason to bark at their owners.
Being a high-energy and intelligent breed, though, corgis often need much more physical and mental exercise than they are given. This can sometimes lead to attention barking or demand barking, as they stare at their owner and bark to try and get something they want.
A lack of training may also contribute to this barking, as can a history of accidentally reinforcing their barking behavior.
However, barking out of boredom or for attention isn’t the only reason your corgi may be barking. In some cases, they may actually be barking out of fear or anxiety.
How to tell the difference between fear barking and other barking
You can tell the difference by reading the body language of your corgi. A dog that wants attention will likely be barking directly at you, while staring at you, and possibly also jumping on you or bringing you a toy.
In addition, this barking usually stops when the dog gets what they want, whether it be affection, food, or play.
A corgi that is fearful or anxious, however, may be barking at something else. They might also have stiff body language, rather than the loose and wiggly body language of a dog that is comfortable, but bored.
You might also see your corgi licking their lips, yawning, or experiencing other signs of stress and anxiety.
Fear and anxiety barking can also escalate to growling, snapping, or biting if the potential threat (as perceived by the dog) continues.
Knowing the reason your corgi is barking is the first step in determining how to fix it!
How to train my Corgi to stop barking
It’s important to identify the reason your corgi is barking. If their barking is caused by fear, remove your corgi from the situation. If it’s a behavioral issue, ignore their barking and reward them once quiet. If their barking is caused by boredom, introduce more exercise and play.
It’s extremely important to identify the reason for the barking before working on solving the problem.
In almost every case, barking is a symptom of the behavior problem, not the problem itself.
If your dog is barking due to anxiety, your goal should be to make your dog feel less anxious.
If the barking is due to boredom, then it’s time to make sure your dog leads a fully enriched life and isn’t bored!
If the barking is due to frustration, helping your corgi understand what you want them to do instead so they are less frustrated will also help.
In all these cases, the barking will go away when there isn’t a reason for barking. Solving the underlying reason for the barking will help ensure you have long lasting success.
Rules for controlling barking
While there are a variety of reasons your corgi may be barking, there are several “rules” that should be followed in general when training your corgi to stop barking.
Determine the reason.
As previously mentioned, the first step is always determining the reason for the barking.
Does the reason need immediate attention?
If your corgi is barking because they want to go to the bathroom, or because they are scared, you should immediately address their concerns.
In the future, if you want your corgi to do another behavior instead of barking when they need to go outside, you can train that behavior when your dog isn’t needing to use the bathroom.
Along the same lines, barking because they are anxious or scared cannot be fixed in that moment. Instead, you need to remove your corgi from the situation that is scaring them, form a training plan outside of the moment, and progress at a slower pace so your corgi doesn’t feel threatened.
Should I ignore their barking?
Barking for attention, or demand barking, should often be ignored in the moment. This means you need to avoid giving your dog any eye contact, talking to them, or acknowledging them.
If you give your dog attention when they bark for attention, they will have no reason to change their behavior.
Once your corgi is quiet for at least 3-5 seconds, now is the time to act. Praise and reward your corgi for their silence, and take this opportunity to give them the exercise or enrichment that they are needing.
Train for quietness.
In many cases, training your corgi how to relax will also provide a huge benefit. Not all dogs automatically have the skills to remain quiet and calm.
The Relaxation Protocol developed by Dr. Karen Overall is a great place to start. If you practice this exercise on a dog bed or mat, you’ll even have a designated place to send your dog to relax!
My Corgi is barking at night
If your corgi is barking only overnight, it’s still important to determine the reason. You may be dealing with some separation anxiety, a dog who isn’t tired enough to go to sleep, or a puppy who hasn’t been properly crate trained.
In some cases, you may also have your corgi barking at you because they need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
This is especially true if they are a young puppy, as they won’t have full bladder control to be able to sleep through the night until 6-7 months in some cases.
If you have addressed your Corgi’s needs through the night, and they’re still barking, then it’s important to not react to the behavior.
Once they’re quiet for 3 to 5 seconds, let them know what a good dog they are!
If you are dealing with a true case of separation anxiety, it’s best to work with a trainer who specializes in that behavior problem in order to effectively change your corgi’s behavior quickly. A Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer is the perfect place to start, and many offer online consultations if there are none local to you.
What about using a bark collar?
You should not use a bark collar on your corgi. As we stated previously, barking is a symptom of behavior, and not a behavior problem itself.
By using a spray, vibrate, beep, or shock to stop your corgi from barking, you are simply taking away their method of communication at that moment.
Bark collars do not teach your corgi what they should do instead, they simply punish the dog for vocalizing.
In some cases, you may find your corgi switches to another concerning behavior, such as destructive chewing.
Your corgi may also end up associating the punishment with what they are currently experiencing, and learn to hate their crate (if it’s used in the kennel) or even to become worried about other dogs (if they are shocked for barking at the other dogs, even if it started out as a friendly bark).
While you shouldn’t use a bark collar, we definitely understand the frustration that barking causes and the temptation to try and use a quick fix.
Rather than risk additional behavior problems with your corgi in the process, barking that has you concerned enough to try a bark collar means you likely need professional help.