As herding dogs, Corgis are quite vocal. Their barks are powerful, deep, and loud for their size to maneuver larger livestock. All Corgis bark, some more than others.
They begin to bark about 3 weeks of age as they play with litter mates and hear other dogs bark. The barking can become incessant during adolescence (8 to 14 months) as they age. This is because they undergo changes that make them more protective or fearful.
Corgis are also known to howl from as early as 8 weeks old. Howling is usually in response to other dogs to elicit social contact or boredom.
Since barking is how they communicate, it’s unrealistic to expect a silent Corgi. But you can control it through management and behavior modification training as seen below. Read on.
Why do Corgis bark so much?
Most people can decipher different barks and make a close guess why by the dog’s posture and reaction.
Barking is an attempt to avoid or escape discomfort or to gain pleasure. This can be to;
- Manipulate for resources such as food, play, attention, to go outside, etc (demand barking)
- Pain or an illness
- Boredom or loneliness
- Excitement during play, mealtime, or when he sees you after a long day
- To alert of and warn off intruders (Alert/territorial barking)
- Due to fear of perceived or actual threats (Alarm/fear barking)
- Self-amusement (compulsive barking)
All these reasons interrupt your Corgi’s emotional state causing him to bark in excess. This could be at home or outdoors during walks.
If your pooch shows signs of an illness or pain, get him diagnosed and treated.
1. Territorial/Alert barking
Corgis will bark when sight, smells, or sounds out of the ordinary in his territory. They will bark to scare off potential intruders from visitors, a tennis ball, birds, and so on. This makes them good watchdogs that should not be in the garden unsupervised.
This bark is usually deep with a growl, raised hackles, and a stiff tail.
How to stop
When a Corgi barks at the delivery guy and he leaves, he learns that barking works. This reinforces the habit and makes it likely to repeat in the future. The dog learns to associate barking with anticipation of the intruder leaving.
When dealing with territorial barking, management is everything in the beginning. Block his view to the outside if he barks while facing through the window. If you are outdoors, bring him indoors or to a back room. Your pooch is less likely to bark at triggers he cannot see or hear. To prevent him from barking at noises outside, block them with background music.
These are only temporary solutions.
Also, include behavior modification training to change his response to stimuli. This will involve building a positive association with the trigger (operant conditioning).
For instance, if he barks at passers-by, interrupt and ask for an alternative habit. You can interrupt him using a food lure, a correction, or by leading him away from the trigger. It’s best to do this before he gets over his emotional threshold and reacts. The instant he stops barking mark (YES) and reward. In time the dog learns that barking gets him corrected and silence gets him a high-value reward.
I would recommend teaching him to watch you each time he eyes stimuli. Lure eye contact with a food target, the dog looks at you, YES, treat, treat. Reward each time he looks at you and not the stimuli or treat. After several repetitions, introduce and add the verbal cue. WATCH, lure eye contact, the dog looks, YES, treat, treat, treat. Repeat this with different distractions and decoys to imprint the command.
Be calm, confident, consistent, and patient as training takes time.
2. Alarm/Fear barking
Alarm barking can occur at home, or outside during walks. The dog may bark at people, dogs, or other unfamiliar situations
The dog is usually tense, with his tail tucked between his legs and a low head posture. He may also show aggressive tendencies such as lunging as the threat gets too close for comfort.
It’s difficult to walk a leash reactive and fearful Corgi. This is because he feels trapped by the leash as he attempts to escape while fixated on the threat.
How to stop
It’s crucial to manage a fearful Corgi to avoid any incidents. Distraction or asking him to sit in the scary situation will not work if he is too aroused. Avoid any confrontations with other dogs or people by walking on quieter routes. Walk him using a head halter (Gentle Leader) when he is less likely to meet a threat. Additionally, keep him engaged so he does not have to scan for what is out there. Avoid puppy classes and parks for now.
When you encounter other dogs or people, walk in front of him in an arc (banana curve) before he reacts. This blocks his view as you turn away and reward him for calm behavior. This shows the dog that you have a handle on the situation and have kept him safe.
If he barks at visitors, lock him in a back room before letting them in. Only allow him to meet them if you can keep him under control and if the visitors are dog neutral. They should ignore the dog and act like he does not exist. Do not let them a pet or offer treats as the dog may feel that he is too close for comfort.
Offer high-value treats yourself and let him initiate interactions if need be. Treats may also change the dog’s emotional response to the visitors.
When visitors are about to leave, lock him away before they make any movements. Remain calm as he can sense if you are nervous and cause him to react.
If his reactions are extreme, keep him locked away and provide interactive toys.
This involves behavior modification by pairing a trigger with something good. This builds a new association and changes his emotional response to stimuli.
Work from a distance the dog is comfortable with without pushing him too close for comfort. This could be 100, 75 yards, etc depending on your Corgi.
The dog should be able to spot the trigger and only elicit a mild or no response. If the dog reacts, you have gone too far, too soon, and should increase the distance.
Each time he eyeballs a threat, disrupt him, lure eye contact, mark and reward. Only reward for calm behavior and obedience.
With time and repetition, the distance resolves itself as you get closer and closer. Repeat this with different triggers so he learns to be less nervous around them.
Corgis need enough mental and physical stimulation, otherwise, they get bored and bark a lot. A bored Corgi will bark at nothing to amuse himself even at night.
They are also likely to bark when left alone for extended periods due to loneliness and anxiety. The dog may also show destructive tendencies such as chewing, scratching, digging, etc.
How to stop
Exercise your Corgi more to meet his mental and physical stimulation needs. Take longer walks, play tug, fetch, practice agility, and provide interactive toys and puzzles.
If he barks when you are gone, establish the barking motivation using a doggie or baby cam. It’s possible that strange noises outside trigger the barking. If so, play background music as you leave and restrict his view to outside.
Meet the dog’s needs before leaving and provide water and interactive toys to keep him busy. Make his alone time pleasant.
Leave and come back without making a fuss to imply that it’s not a big deal you left as you will be back. Don’t comfort her as this will only worsen his anxious state. Also, have him relax in his area for about 20 minutes to avoid setting him off as you leave.
You should also teach your pooch to feel safe alone or at least tolerate by crate training him.
Leaving the whole house to your Corgi will only increase his feeling of isolation. Use a crate, playpen, ex-pen, or gated-off area large enough for him to roam. Put his treats, food, water, toys, and beddings in the crate and let him investigate it himself. Some of your clothing items with your scent can also put him at ease. If he throws a fit, wait for him to calm down before letting him out.
To start, retrain your dog behind a pet barrier and stand in front of him without saying a word. Take a step back, mark (YES), and return. 2 steps back, YES, return. 3 steps back, YES, return.
Only return if he is calm and relaxed as you increase the number of steps in random order. 4 steps, 7 steps, 2 steps, 5 steps, 12 steps, and so on until you are out of sight to another room. When out of sight, take a few seconds before you mark and return as a functional reward. Keep the duration random- 2 mins, 10 mins, 5 mins, 1 min, 20 seconds, 4 mins, etc. This is to build duration.
If the dog makes a fuss, stay out of sight until he stops even if it is to catch a breath. Repeat this in different rooms as you move outdoors. Your return is the reward (functional reward). Increase the time you are out of sight and let him learn you will return each time you leave.
It’s good practice to not leave the dog alone in the crate for more than 4 hours. Do not rush the process as it takes time and consistency. Take steps back if he is uncomfortable and frustrated at a certain stage. Whenever he offers to get into the crate, reward and make a big deal of it with a lot of praise.
Contact a vet or behaviorist if the anxiety is severe.
4. Demand barking
Corgis bark at their owners to manipulate resources such as food, toys, and attention. The bark is usually relaxed and the dog may also attempt to jump at you.
Do not do the dog’s bidding if he is demand barking as this will reinforce and worsen it. Instead, ignore attention-seeking behavior. Act like the dog does not exist, make a coffee, turn on the TV, turn your back on him, and so on.
The pooch may go into an extinction burst where he barks as much as possible in desperation. Have resolve and do not give in.
Only give in to his demands the instant he stops barking even if it is to catch a breath. Repeat until the dog is offering a few seconds of silence as you progress. Let him learn that barking only gets him ignored.
Teach the dog an alternative way to communicate. Teach him to ring the bell to go out or to bring a toy to you for play.
You also want to avoid building chain behaviors where the dog barks and stops for a reward.
5. Excitement & Play
Your Corgi may bark to say hello to someone he likes or excitement. The barking is usually high-pitched and intermittent.
He may also spin in circles, tap his feet, have a happy face, wag his tail, and have perked-up ears. This is common in younger energetic dogs.
What to do
Excitement barking is okay to some extent, especially during play. If it is too much, turn away and stop all attention and play. Wait until he stops barking to give attention and rewards.
You can also disrupt him before he gets aroused and reacts with a special treat or leash pressure. Teach him to turn his head to you for guidance each time he spots something interesting.
The dog looks at you, YES, 1,2,3,4 treats, the dog looks away, wait, the dog looks, YES, 1,2 treats. Build duration on the look by maintaining eye contact for more seconds. Give treats one by one. The dog should look at will before you introduce the verbal cue. WATCH ME…YES… 1,2 treats.
Repeat this in different locations and add distractions. The rewards should be more motivating than the stimuli to keep him engaged.
Use a clicker or marker to pinpoint the exact moment he does what you want before you reward him.
6. Frustration barking
Corgis get frustrated and bark when things don’t go their way. He may protest confinement or when he can’t get to something he likes. His pattern of demand barking may not be working anymore.
This is why it is appropriate to teach the dog appropriate behavior instead of barking. Teach him to sit and wait or watch you for guidance or whenever he wants something.
7. Social barking
Corgis bark in response to other dog barking or howling. This can also be other close sounds such as sirens, flutes, and other musical instruments.
Expose the dog to different sound elements that arouse him. Before he barks, apply a correct or distract him with a treat. Mark (YES, GOOD…) and reward for calm behavior.
Also, keep him indoors when other dogs are barking and play background music to block noises.
8. Compulsive barking
This is when the Corgi barks to amuse himself and will bark at everything without context. Barking is self-reinforcing and the dog enjoys doing it.
Do not ignore the compulsive barking. Instead, apply a correction and ask the dog to do something incompatible with barking.
How to stop your Corgi from barking
Your Corgi is more likely to listen to a firm and balanced leader for guidance and direction. Have a proper reward system with what best motivates the dog. This could be high-value treats, toys, praise, or play.
Do not let him practice inappropriate barking as it’s self-rewarding and likely to repeat.
Ask the dog to do something incompatible with barking and make it more rewarding. Build a repertoire of desired behaviors. Build a connection between being quiet and a high-value reward.
Training the “QUIET” & “BARK” command
First, train your dog to bark on command. Find what gets him to bark such as a knock on the door or any stimulant you can control. You can trigger frustration barking by withholding a reward. Only offer a reward if he barks.
Dog barks, YES, treat, treat. The dog is silent, wait, the dog barks, YES, treat, treat, treat. As you progress, add a verbal cue (SPEAK, BARK…) before you trigger the bark. Soon the dog will form an association with the cue to the barking.
From here, teach him to shush on command. Get him to bark then let him sniff a yummy treat on your hand and wait for him to be silent. The treat is likely to stop the barking. The instant he goes silent, YES, reward, reward. If he barks, withhold the treat and wait for him to go quiet. Repeat this a couple of times as you build duration on the silence. Soon add a verbal cue (QUIET, SHUSH…). Verbal cues should always precede any body movement or hand signals.
Alternate between BARK and QUITE as the dog improves as you use fewer treats. Be loud firm and consistent with the verbal cue.
Add distractions to imprint the commands and be firm, patient, and consistent. Training takes time, do not rush it.
Using barking correctors
Use barking correctors as a last result, for disobedience and emergencies.
This could be leash pressure, a sharp noise, a squirt of water, correction markers, and so on.
The correction marker (Ah-Ah, NOPE, NO…) has the same effect as a physical correction. Teach the dog that the marker is always followed by a correction. Ah-Ah, correct, dog is silent, YES, Reward. This verbal correction should be loud and firm.
Ensure the correction is appropriate and does not cause physical harm.
There are also bark collars for automatic correction each time the dog barks. Bark collars either use a loud beep (ultrasonic collar), citronella spray, or electric shock. Electric collars do more harm than good, especially with a fearful Corgi. Citronella collars appear to be the most humane and effective.
Some collars are also set off by close sounds. Other dogs learn to bark at a low intensity without triggering the collar. Others will bark when the collar is off.
Training and behavior modification takes time and consistency.
Whenever your Corgi barks, keep calm. Do not jerk or yank his leash, do not tighten the leash or hold your breath as this worsens his arousal.
Also, have realistic expectations. The goal is to reduce excessive barking other than eliminating barking.
Consult a vet or behaviorist if you are struggling to get barking under control.
There you go. GOODLUCK.