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The Papillon Information Center       
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Papillon Barking

Toy breeds dogs have a lot of weight to carry on their shoulders: Reputation! Some of it is positive: Lovable personalities, good cuddling skills and a high energy that makes them great partners for activities.  On the other side of the coin, toy breeds are known as barkers. Is this true? Does the size of the dog dictates how vocal he or she will be?

This is true, but only to some degree. There are some larger dogs that are very laid back…over generations of breeding, certain traits are inbred. The Akita for example, is normally very quiet, yet very alert to his surroundings. The Beagle, a medium sized hunting dog, often howls to call out for other dogs in the area; this is an instinct to summon the “pack”.

The Papillon was bred to be a small companion dog and this must be factored into any barking issues.  The purpose of this breed was never to hunt, not to protect and not to work. The sole purpose of perfecting the Papillon was to create a small lap dog. (See also: Size)

This means that inbred to this breed is the desire to be close to his humans.  He craves the companionship of his humans, he offers attention… and he expects attention to be returned.  After all, why have a pet if he or she is to be ignored?

With this all said, as an owner you may encounter some Papillon barking problems in various situations.  The Papillon is somewhat vocal and will bark to gain attention or to express excitement.  Many will bark to alert owners to any strangers that come near or on the property.

A problem can arise, however, if there is excessive barking.  In some cases, owners mistakenly handle the issue in a way that can actually encourage barking… and the cycle can be never-ending.

Additionally, a Papillon may bark due to a dislike in the environment, whether this be isolation (Separation Anxiety when home alone), or in response to other dogs, etc.

In this section we are going to discuss the reasons why a Papillon may bark and how to go about teaching your Pappy how to quiet down in a loving way.  Let’s begin by looking at the main reasons why a Papillon may be overly vocal.

When Home Alone

If your neighbors have told you that your dog is barking to high heaven whenever your car is gone from the driveway, chances are that your Papillon is having a hard time coping with being home alone and when it causes a disruption of normal behavior this is referred to as Separation Anxiety.  It causes a dog to go into a panic, as a strong sense of abandonment sets in… A dog may have destructive chewing issues, may pace, may urinate (even when otherwise well house trained) and may bark endlessly.

Certainly having a friend, neighbor, family member or even a dog-walker visit your Papillon for even a ½ hour while you are gone can be of great help.  If at all possible, being able to go home during a lunch can help break up the day and offer a respite from boredom.  

Setting up a good environment for your Papillon will help keep your dog occupied and busy when at home, which will cut down on barking.  While crates can be very useful during the night, placing a puppy into a crate during day time hours when the dog is fully awake should be avoided.  It makes a dog feel very confined and will increase feelings of seclusion and angst.

Better is to gate off an area that allows a dog room to move and room to play.  We suggest at least a 4x6 foot area.  If floors are carpeted, a piece of linoleum can be placed down and a gate on top of that.

Inside should be an open crate (or small doggie bed), an area for food, a water dispenser (bowls can easily be tipped or splashed to the point of leaving a dog thirsting all day), papers (or pee pads) but do not expect a puppy to hit the mark all of the time… and importantly, toys.
It can help to have a radio or TV playing in the background.  Dogs do pay attention to windows…and if the area offers a view outside, it will be a trial and error process to see what your Papillon likes best… Is it to be able to see outside?...Or does the view offer more triggers to bark?

The “No” Word

Puppies are so darn cute that it can be suddenly overwhelming to quickly figure out how to react if a Papillon quickly begins barking for what seems like no logical reason.  It is not unusual for owners to respond in a way that does not work.

What Not to Do

Do not: Yell or raise your voice.  Even if it is the word “No” that you are yelling or saying loudly, this often will not work. If it startles a dog, there will be a brief moment of silence…and then the barking will continue.  If a puppy does not understand the word, it will only add to the noise.

Do not slap your puppy:  Physical punishment never helps a dog learn. All it does is make a dog intimidated.  A dog will not respect his owner, he will fear him.

What Does Work

There is a fine balance on the tone of voice that works to quiet a dog down.  If a Papillon is barking due to a perceived threat (whether real or imagined), offering words in a soothing voice may only “confirm” that there is indeed a threat. So, whether this is barking at birds in the yard or at a person who is visiting in the home, calming words such as “It’s okay, oh, everything’s alright” often to not work.

In situations such as this, it often works to ignore the barking.  Once dogs figure out that being vocal does not produce any results and that their family is continuing on as if nothing is wrong, the barking often stops.   Do not remove your puppy, as this does not give him the opportunity to learn control. Better is to allow him to remain, however no attention at all is given until the barking stops. This means no looking, no talking, no giving pats, no feeding.  If there is a break that lasts for a count of at least 15 seconds, it is then that a happy yet calm, “good dog” and a treat will show a Papillon that being calm equals attention and a reward.
Night Time Puppy Barking Troubles

We receive a lot of emails that ask about how to handle things when a puppy is barking at night. This is not uncommon when a young puppy is trying to become adjusted to a new home.   It can be helpful to take a few important steps before sleepy time.

Food should not be given 1 hour before bedtime.  Approximately 30 minutes before bed, it will be time for a last bathroom trip outside (or to the pee pads if training indoors).  After this, lights should be dimmed and the volume on TV’s turned down, giving the Papillon the cue that it is time to begin to relax.
If the puppy wakes up at night and barks,  an owner should bring the pup outside to see if he or she needs to urinate or eliminate. This should be done with minimal talking and minimal lighting.  Whether successful or not, the puppy should then be placed back down in his sleeping area and owner should return to bed.