Dog Barking: How To Get Your Pup To Embrace Silence

Dog Barking: How To Get Your Pup To Embrace Silence
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Have you ever had nights where your dog just won’t stop barking at the wind outside? What about when you have a visitor enter your gate or you leave the house for work? If the answer to those questions is yes, then you aren’t alone. As a dog owner, it can be a struggle to control dog barking. This can be a problem not just for you, but for your neighbors, friends, and family as well.

dog barking

The great thing is that when your dog barks, it’s not always a form of bad behavior or nuisance barking. Rather, it’s their way of communicating with you. Sometimes, however, dogs can get a little carried away and that results in excessive dog barking. Other times it may be that your dog is simply trying to tell you about an underlying condition that is worrying them. As dog owners, it can be hard to tell what’s causing the problem. That’s where we are going to help you out so you can experience a bark-free lifestyle!

Throughout this article, we are going to discuss when it is appropriate for your dog to bark and when it is inappropriate. We’ll also cover why preventing dog barking problems in the puppy stage is a must. As well as how to train your dog to stop barking when it starts to become a serious problem.

Why Do Dogs Bark? 

You will never stop a dog from barking. It’s in their nature and it’s how they communicate with you, other people, and other animals. That is why it’s important to distinguish between when it’s appropriate for your dog to bark and when it’s inappropriate.

Many people believe that when a dog barks excessively (inappropriate) it’s due to bad behavior. However, that isn’t always the case! There is almost always an underlying reason for why your dog is barking at inappropriate times. By identifying the problem, you will have a better chance at teaching your dog to control their super bark.

Here are some of the most common reasons why your furry friend won’t keep the noise down.

Boredom/Loneliness 

Bored dog symptom for dog barking

Believe it or not, your dog can actually get bored and experience all the feelings of loneliness. Unlike humans, a dog just barks until their cry for something fun to do is answered. So, the big question is – why do dogs get bored and how can you tell as a dog owner?

The simplest way to explain why dogs get bored is that dogs are pack animals. This means that they need to be around other animals or humans to feel complete and fulfilled. Left alone for too long, they can become bored, lonely, and sad. Why do they rely on us to keep their boredom at bay? Because we are their entire life, their entertainment. We dictate when they eat, when get to exercise, and when they get to play. So, you can see why they would get bored without us.

As a result of this boredom, dog’s bark to let their humans know they need to fix the problem. It doesn’t matter whether or not your dog is an inside pet or prefers the rays of the sun outside. Dog barking can be a classic sign that you need to find your dog something to do when they are bored.

Alarm/Fear

It’s a natural instinct for all animals to experience fear, and your furry friend is no different. One of the most common causes of excessive dog barking comes down to your dog simply being scared. This can be certain situations and surrounding. They are trying to tell you they feel uncomfortable or they want you to protect them.

Common causes of fear in your dog can include:

Road Trips

Believe it or not, dogs really aren’t that different to humans. Like us, they can experience travel anxiety. It’s common for dogs to have a fear of being trapped in a confined space. Some even suffer from car sickness when those wheels start spinning down the highway. This can be rather traumatic as your dog can’t escape and therefore, results in your dog being restless and noisy.

Noise Anxiety

If you have ever experienced anxiety, then you know how awful it can be. Some dogs can suffer from noise anxiety, sudden noises that can send your dog into a panic attack. A lot of the time, a dog’s first response is to bark at the problem to make it go away. If your dog easily scares at certain sounds then this can lead to excessive dog barking!

Fear of Other Dogs/People

This is a big one, and probably the most common fear for dogs. Meeting new people can make us nervous because the outcome of the greeting is unknown. Well, dogs feel exactly the same way. To put it simply, they are scared that they will be rejected, hurt, threatened, and more. Therefore, they use barking as a coping mechanism to tell the strange dogs or people to back off.

Territorial/Protective 

territorial protective dog barking

Dog’s are one of the most territorial animals on the planet. So, if your dog likes to guard their personal space or even you, then don’t be too alarmed. But, when it results in aggressiveness and excessive dog barking, it can start to become a problem. What causes your dog to be so territorial? Well, there really isn’t one answer to that question.

Your dog may get territorial over their personal space when being approached by another dog or a stranger. They might be trying to defend and protect their food or toys from prying hands. Or, they might have adopted this behavior because it’s worked in the past.

Other reasons for your dog being territorial or protective include:

  • Poor socialization
  • Doesn’t like the current environment they are in
  • Feeling like they have to protect their owner
  • Genetics
  • Underlying medical condition

Greeting/Play

Like we’ve discussed previously, dog barking is the number one way dogs communicate with us humans. It’s their form of speech, and they just assume that we will understand the meaning of their barks. That isn’t always the case, however. When a dog either greets you or a stranger, they may bark. Now, it could be because they are super excited to see you or they are guarding themselves because they are uneasy. Either way, both can result in excessive dog barking. It can be hard to tell them to stop barking and keep the noise down when they don’t understand what we mean by the command.

Other times this sort of behavior is present is when your dog is playing. Let’s clarify this – dog’s love to play. It’s in their nature to dash after a ball. Some will chase you around the backyard or have sprinting races with other dogs around the park. So, why do they bark when they do this?

It’s common for a dog to bark when playing. It lets you or the other dog know that they are ready to play and that they are having fun. But, a dog bark can be hard to interpret.  A lot of the time this sort of behavior can be taken as aggression. Majority of the time, however, it’s just them telling you to get your game on!

Attention-seeking 

Let’s face it, all dog owners at some point in their life have experienced the infamous ‘puppy dog eyes.’ Yes, our furry friends can be massive attention seekers. They will do almost anything to get your attention, including voicing their ultrasonic bark. This is a common behavioral trait for a puppy. Thankfully, most should grow out of this attention seeking phase as they get older. Unfortunately, some dogs never catch the memo. This can result in your dog barking every time they want your attention.

Why do dogs crave attention so much? Remember how I said you are literally your dog’s entire life? Well, it’s the same thing when it comes to attention-seeking. Dogs live for their owner’s attention, affection, and love. Sometimes, all they want is for you to throw the ball. Other times, they want you to play for hours on end or for you to pet them. If you don’t answer their call, then this can result in excessive barking. It can become a real strain on your lifestyle, not to mention the dog barking complaints from neighbors!

Separation Anxiety 

TV for dogs with separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the most common causes of dog barking. You are their person, their whole entire world. When you leave them, they feel separated from you. They with the fear that you won’t come back. They hope by barking, that you will come home and soothe their anxiety.

As a pack animal, dogs aren’t accustomed to being left alone. But apart from that, what actually causes your dog to freak out when you leave them home alone? Here are a few reasons why:

  • Removal from their mother when they are pups
  • A change in their daily routine
  • A sudden change in their status as a family member
  • Previous abandonment
  • Lack of integration into the family home
  • Moving from one place to another
  • Making your leaving and arriving an overwhelming deal for the dog

Bottom line is, without realizing it or not, you are their security blanket. When you are gone, they no longer feel safe. If you think this sounds exactly like your dog, then check out our article on Separation Anxiety in Dogs: A Holistic Approach for more information.

Illness 

The last reason why your dog might bark at inappropriate times is quite simple. They either feel unwell or there is an underlying medical condition. This can be hard for pet owners to determine, and unfortunately, can be overlooked as one of the above problems. If your dog is well past the puppy stage and into their senior years, then pay close attention. Illnesses are more common with age.

If your dog is suffering from an illness, then barking might be their way of telling you what’s wrong. Common causes of dog barking that are related to illnesses include:

Confusion

confused barking dog

If your dog barks at random times for no apparent reason, and they seem lost and somewhat dazed, then this can be a sign of confusion in your dog. Often times, this can be linked to an underlying infection or in worse cases, Alzheimer’s disease.

Incontinence

Yep, even dogs have to suffer this. Incontinence is when your dog has trouble holding their bladder. Unfortunately, this will happen as your dog ages. If your dog is waking you up in the middle of the night barking and creating a commotion of noises, then they probably need to be let out.

Pain

Pain is a common symptom associated with serious illness, and as you know, when you are in pain, you probably want to be left alone. If your dog barks or whines every time you go near them or pick them up, then your dog may be in some pain. As a pet owner, it can be hard to tell if your dog is suffering from pain, so it’s best to check with your local vet if you are unsure of what’s going on.

These are just some of the reasons why your dog might bark at inappropriate times. With that said, is there any hope for an anti-barking lifestyle? Absolutely. Take a look below.

Puppies Barking: Prevention

Yes, a quiet lifestyle with your pooch is absolutely achievable, and the best time to start barking prevention is at a young age. A lot of pet owners who scour the net resort to anti bark collars or bark control collars, but you really shouldn’t keep your dog from barking. Afterall, it’s their means of communication! Besides, there are much better ways to manage dog barking than dog silencers. This sort of dog training takes a more holistic approach and starts from a young age when they are still a pup.

Here are some methods you can use to prevent excessive dog barking:

Establishing Trust Between You and the Puppy

First things first, you aren’t going to be able to prevent your pup from excessive or inappropriate dog barking if you don’t know why they are doing it. There are a number of different reasons for dog barking, as we’ve covered above. Identifying them will allow you to teach your dog when it’s the right time to bark. How do you teach them exactly? It all comes down to the owner having confidence.

Remember, you are your dog’s person. They trust you with their lives every single day. So, come to really know your puppy and what makes their inappropriate barking rear its head. Then, take charge of their behavior. Be confident and remain calm when the situation arrives. If your dog senses that you don’t fear the situation you are both in, then they won’t either.

Train Your Puppy To Bring You A Present

Dogs are big on trust, and if they feel they can’t trust you, a stranger, or another dog, then they will bark at to voice their feelings. A great way to establish this trust around strangers and other dogs is to train your puppy to get a toy and gift it to the visitor.

Teach Your Puppy Commands

Another great way to control your dog’s excessive barking is to teach them commands at a young age. These commands can include – sit, quite, speak, etc. Use treats when teaching your puppy these verbal command, but only reward them when they follow instructions. Don’t feed them the treat for barking or they will think that behavior is okay.

How to Stop a Dog From Barking

If you are well past the puppy stage and the dog barking is excessive, then there are different methods you can utilize to help teach them that this behavior is wrong, without turning to dog barking devices. Whoever said old dogs can’t learn new tricks was clearly mistaken. With some patience, love, and a bag of treats, you can accomplish a lot!

Let’s break down the problems that cause excessive and inappropriate dog barking and how to prevent them from occurring in the future.

Boredom/Loneliness

interactive toys to prevent dogs from barking

Boredom can result from a number of different reasons. Here are some simple methods to alleviate that feeling that your dog may be experiencing:

  • Interactive toys
  • Arrange a play date
  • Build a digging box
  • Get a kiddy pool
  • Make some frozen treats
  • Give them something to chew on

Alarm/Fear

The best form of treatment for a dog that suffers from fear is to socialize them. This doesn’t necessarily have to be just with other people and dogs, but different places, smells, and surroundings. Slowly start to expose your dog to the triggers that make them bark. Be confident and calm when the situation arises, and let your dog know that new places, people, and things aren’t necessarily bad. Make sure that trust is established. The more they are exposed to the trigger in a stable environment, the better they will become.

Territorial/Protective

The key to fixing excessive, territorial dog barking is to expose them to the outside stimuli. If your dog gets protective when there’s a visitor, be it a person or another dog, in your home, then slowly introduce them to the trigger. Keep them at a safe distance where they feel calm. Once they start to get used to the situation, gradually move them towards the stimuli until they feel safe. If they don’t bark, reward them with a treat.

Greeting/Play

Dog barking when greeting or playing is a normal form of communication for a dog. However, if the barking is excessive and won’t stop, then teaching them simple commands like “quiet” and rewarding them when they follow them with a treat works effectively.

Attention-Seeking

Yes, there is always a cure for the attention seeker! The best way to stop dog barking when it’s associated with attention seeking is to first distinguish why they are barking.

Demand Barking – Ignore them until they stop demanding your attention and reward them when they stop.

Stress Barking – Distract them by putting distance between the dog and the trigger, and change their focus to something else.

Separation Anxiety

Teaching your dog to feel new emotions can be hard. It’s about teaching your dog how to feel about the situation, and how to calm those anxious feelings. You want to aim to make them feel safe, calm, and relaxed. However, keep in mind, this won’t work straight away. In fact, it may take some time before your dog’s separation anxiety settles.

Here are some methods to get you started:

  • Don’t over-greet your dog. A nice smile and a scratch on the head is enough
  • Vary your routine so your dog isn’t expecting you to leave at a certain time
  • Have an activity for your dog to do while you are out
  • Play with them or walk them before you leave to tire them out
  • Leave the TV on

Illness

If your dog is barking due to an underlying illness, then it’s best to take your dog to their veterinarian to pinpoint what exactly is going on. Also, if regular, annual checkups aren’t already on the schedule, it’s definitely something you should consider. Staying on top of your dog’s health is imperative. You know what they say: the best medicine is preventative!

Dog Barking: In Conclusion

why do dogs bark

Dog’s love to vocalize how much they love their owners, but sometimes, it can be a real strain on you and those around you. By identifying what triggers dog barking and using specific methods to alleviate the problem, you and your pooch are well on your way to a happy (quieter) lifestyle.

 

Resources:

  • https://www.rover.com/blog/common-dog-fears/
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/behavioral/c_dg_aggression_territorial
  • https://www.seniortailwaggers.com/older-dog-barking.html
  • https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/understanding-why-dogs-bark#1
  • https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-behavior/barking-and-howling/dog-barking-101
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