How to Be Mindful With a Barking Dog

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Meditation for Real Life

“Dogs have two ways of communicating; body language and barking,” says Joanne Ometz, founder of Mindfulness For Dogs. “Barking can be disconcerting to humans, especially when it seems to go on forever, and can bring up feelings of frustration and even anger. Approaching barking with mindfulness can help transform it from a source of agitation to an opportunity for practice.”

Take a mindful breath and try to let go of how upset you may be feeling.

If you like dogs, remember the happy connection you have with them. If you don’t like dogs, acknowledge that this barking will soon pass.

Notice the sound of the barking without judging it — just be aware of the sound, rather than labeling it as annoying or bad.

If the dog is your own and you’re in a position to help, see if you can give the dog what he or she needs.

If the dog is not your own, be aware of your feelings. If practical, consider moving to a quieter area of your home or apartment, and make a mental note to talk to your neighbors about their pet’s distress.

Dogs do not bark to irritate or startle or dominate people. They bark because they do not know what else to do to in situations that cause stress, fear, anxiety, boredom or too much excitement.

Dogs have different priorities and interests than humans. How often do you get the urge to chase a squirrel? Don’t judge them for being dogs.

Rather than get angry, simply recognize that this is how dogs express themselves, and focus on your own breath.

Most barking is due to some kind of stress. And nobody — not humans or dogs — can think mindfully when they are stressed.