Corgis bark so much that neighbors can easily become frustrated by their relentless barking especially when left outside in the yard for too long.
We can't blame them though: corgis have a history as workers and therefore tend to suffer when they aren't provided with sufficient outlets to keep their minds and bodies busy.
Discover why corgis barks so much, and most of all, what you can do to reduce this behavior.
Barking to Move Cattle
Whether you own a Pembroke Welsh corgi or a Cardigan Welsh corgi, one thing is for sure: these dogs are big dogs at heart, only that they have a long body and short legs.
Historically bred as herding dogs, corgis have excelled for many years as all-around farm dogs.
Initially, Corgis were mostly used at the front of a herd of cattle to ensure send predators away.
Later on though, the people of Wales came to recognize that Corgis were also useful in driving the cattle from behind, so they were converted into dogs who barked and nipped the heels of stubborn cattle to get them moving along the agricultural areas of Wales, in the United Kingdom.
Being short and low to the ground offered the advantage of keeping these dogs away from the dangerous hooves of cattle. While nipping the cattle's heels, any kicks from these animals would have therefore traveled over the corgi's head without harming them.
On top of working as "heelers," as mentioned, corgis also used their barking to get these large animals to move. Barking is therefore a strong inhered trait that was selectively bred in this breed.
Barking to Send Strangers Away
On top of barking to move cattle, corgis also barked to chase away any stray animals from the farm. This is what makes Corgis great watchdogs because keeping an eye out was part of their earliest job. Unfortunately, this tendency can yield a lot of barking.
Now that most of these dogs are kept in homes as companions, they may still instinctively use their barking to send away other dogs and cats from their perceived territories.
This alertness tendency makes corgis quite sensible watchdogs, ready to sound the alarm upon detecting any changes in their environments.
Their large, sensitive radar-dish ears twitch almost constantly and seem to capture sounds that other dogs may fail to notice. It doesn't help that a corgi's barking has also" big dog" bark that means business and can pierce your ears.
While this tendency to bark works well on a farm with lots of acreage and with livestock to protect, it can quickly turn problematic in an urban setting. They'll bark at the noise of wind, car doors opening and closing and even the T.V.
Corgis may also become suspicious of strangers and may be too fast to alarm-bark if they feel threatened by something or someone.
The Power of Reinforcement
Sure, selective breeding has made corgi more vocal, but what drives their barking behavior in the first place? This is likely because, on top of hard-wired behavior, there is also some level of reinforcement at play.
Barking at strangers, other animals or cars can be a highly reinforcing behavior because every time your corgi barks, that person, car or animals is likely to at some point retreat and go away.
Well... in reality, it's not like that person walking by the fence or car driving by is really retreating specifically because your corgi barks, it's just that the person or car happens to move away for other reasons.
However, corgis have a tendency of perceiving themselves as 'big, scary looking dogs' so they really come to believe that it's due to their sheer presence and loud barks that people or cars eventually leave the premises.
"Wow, my barking makes them leave, How powerful is that!" your corgi may think. Well, of course, he might not think so rationally, but you get the point!
Here's the thing: behaviors that are reinforced tend to repeat and strengthen, so once your corgi makes the connection between his bark and the people or cars leaving, you can be sure to hear him barking every single time he sees them (unless you take some action), possibly for the rest of his life.
Barking Out of Boredom
Blessed with short legs, corgis fortunately don't need to pack a lot of miles to get tired, but they are still working dogs at heart.
In their past, they spent a good part of their days running around, keeping watch, and ensuring nothing bad ever happened to the cattle.
This means that corgis thrive on exercise, training and mental stimulation and therefore love to be kept busy. Fail to keep corgis busy, and they may find their own forms of entertainment, but these are often not fun for their owners.
Let's face it tough, in today's modern age, where corgis are more often kept as companions, there isn’t a whole lot happening.
Left in a yard with nothing better to do, corgis won't spend most of their time thumb-twiddling. Instead, they'll likely start barking at every minimal sight or sound, or they may find other entertaining hobbies such as digging, chewing and destroying things.
Barking from Loneliness
With a history of working in the farm, Corgis were often surrounded by cows for a good part of the day. It's therefore not surprising for this breed to be social animals that do not like being left on their own.
Barking can therefore take place when you head to work or need to leave your corgi alone for a lengthy period of time. This barking is not a bark in protest, but rather tends to be more of an anxious bark of a dog who is stressed.
Some corgis may go as far as not wanting their owners to leave and trying to herd all the family members together (like a group of cows) because they feel their safety is at stake.
Barking for Attention
Corgis are smart dogs and their history as herders caused them to develop an independent mind of their own. When they were herding, they often had to make decisions on their own with little or no human guidance. On top of this, a certain dose of persistence was sometimes needed to move stubborn livestock.
In a home setting, corgis who are bored or desire attention, may happen to bark at their owners in a demanding way.
Often, this takes place when corgis feel a little neglected as it may happen when dog owners work all day and come home only to ignore their dogs who have been waiting for them for hours.
The corgi may therefore start barking when the dog owner comes home from work and sits on the couch to watch a TV maratone of a favorite show. "Bark, bark, bark" it's as if the corgi is saying: "Hey, what about me? Ya know, I need to be walked, fed and would like to play. Please pay attention to me when I am talking!"
This behavior is therefore often fueled by attention. If your corgi barks at you and you pay attention to him (by looking at him, talking to him or even scolding him -because negative attention is better than no attention at all), his barking behavior will put roots and persist.
If you decide to pay attention to him sometimes yes and sometimes no, you will have further allowed the barking behavior to strengthen since by doing that you will have reinforced keeping at it and persistence.
Now That You Know...
As seen, corgis have their own good reasons to bark. As dogs bred for herding, they are naturally prone to being vocal. This is deeply ingrained in their doggy DNA. Now that you know why corgis bark so much, here are some tips to reduce your corgi's barking.
- Recognize why your corgi is barking. There are different types of barking in dogs and each may have their own meaning. Tackling the underlying issue correctly is important.
- Provide your corgi with enough mental stimulation. Brain games, daily walks, play, should help provide productive outlets for this smart breed's needs to exercise its body and mind. The busier your corgi is kept, the less reason he has for barking out of boredom.
- Provide an outlet for your corgi's natural instincts. You can enroll him in herding trials if there is a herding club in your area. No herding club? Learn about the fun sport of Treibball.
- Socialize your corgi from an early age. Consider that the window of socialization in puppies closes around 16 weeks. The more your corgi puppy gets acquainted with the normal sights and sounds in your neighborhood, the faster he'll ease in to recognizing them as non-threatening, and therefore being non bark-worthy.
- Missed out the window of socialization? You're still on time for some remedial socialization, but this becomes more complex requiring behavior modification intervention (through management and desensitization and counterconditioning). Forcing "socialization" on a corgi who is suspicious of certain triggers, may only aggravate the problem.
- Avoid leaving your corgi too much time in the yard alone. Left to their own devices, dogs left in a yard alone a good portion of the day may feel lonely, bored and frustrated. This often leads to excessive barking.
- Enroll your corgi in training. These dogs are very smart and learn quickly. With training, you can ask your corgi to perform alternate behaviors other than barking. For example, training your dog to lie down on a mat can dodge a barking episode in its tracks. It is harder for dogs to bark when laying down, and if you give them a chew to enjoy while there, they'll be less inclined to bark.
- Reward your corgi for being quiet. If your corgi barks at you when he's bored and wants attention, ignore him. Be aware of extinction bursts. Then, when he gives up and leaves, praise and reward him. However, make a mental note and find ways to prevent these episodes of barking from occurring in the first place. For instance, if your corgi barks at you in the evening when you sit on the couch, make sure to walk him first, feed him and then give him a fun chew toy or stuffed Kong to enjoy while you're watching your favorite movie.
- If your corgi barks in reaction to certain noises, try using the "hear that method" every time these noises take place.
- Be patient and have realistic expectations. Fighting many centuries of ingrained barking in this breed to the point eradicating it completely is impossible, however you can curb the barking enough to make it more tolerable.