Barking comes naturally to dogs. It’s how they tell us how they are feeling, what they want and what they don’t like. Barking is normal behaviour for dogs and there’s nothing wrong with it but when it becomes excessive it causes problems for you and for your neighbours.
Dogs bark in different situations for different reasons from whimpering to growling to full on shouty barking; it’s the way your dog communicates.
Why do dogs bark?
- To say Hi! – dogs often bark a greeting, usually quite a happy type of bark maybe with a bit of tail wagging.
- If they are scared – some dogs bark if something startles them or makes them jump.
- If they feel threatened – if a dog feels threatened it often triggers barking. It happens if someone comes into what they class as their territory. The classic postman response!
- If they are bored – dogs left by themselves without people or toys to play with will often bark as they are bored and feel lonely.
- If they have dog separation anxiety – this is linked to boredom. Some dogs can’t stand being parted from their owners so bark constantly while they are out.
- To get attention – when a dog want to go for a walk or have a treat or go outside they’ll often bark to get your attention.
- If they need more exercise – a tired dog barks less than a dog that doesn’t do enough exercise so make sure your dog goes for regular walks.
How to stop a dog barking
When your dog barks, make a noise like clapping your hands and say “STOP” or “QUIET” calmly and firmly. When they stop barking give a reward and lots of praise. Don’t reward while they are still barking.
Alternatively try to teach your dog to “SPEAK” that is to bark. It seems odd to teach them to do exactly the thing that you don’t like but there is a method to the madness!
When they bark on your “SPEAK” command it’s easier to teach them a different command like “QUIET” to signal for them to stop. Keep repeating to reinforce the behaviour.
Ways to stop a dog barking
If you can work out why your dog is barking you’ll have a better idea of how to stop them if it’s getting out of hand.
If it’s because they feel scared or threatened by visitors to the house keep the dog away from the front door and windows so they are unaware of delivery people calling.
If they are barking a lot to get your attention just ignore them. It’ll make them realise that that particular tack doesn’t work.
If they are bored make sure you exercise them regularly and give your dog toys which can be filled with hidden treats while you are out to keep them occupied and mentally stimulated.
If your dog is barking because of separation anxiety while you are out this is extremely annoying for your neighbours and may lead them to contact the authorities about the noise. First of all tell your neighbours that you are working on the problem and are trying to train your dog to stop, this will hopefully make them more tolerant.
Try to get your dog used to being without you for shorter lengths of time, learn that you will come back, and then gradually lengthen the periods that you are away. You may need advice from vet or dog behaviour expert if the problem persists.
If your dog barks at night, always keep them inside.
If your dog barks at other dogs one way to try to stop that is to train them not too by rewarding them. Get a friend with a dog to go quite a distance away from you and your dog. As they get closer give your dog a treat to stop them barking, continue doing so until the dogs are near each other. Keep doing this so your dog will learn that it’s good not to bark excessively at other dogs.