As a dog owner, there’s a risk that you’ll have to deal with a barking dog at some point. Hopefully not to a point where it becomes annoying but if that ends up being the case, you’re in the right place.
Here you’ll find what are the most common reasons for dog barking. You’ll also find some tips you can start using straight away to help you stop your dog from barking.
Why do dogs bark?
Well… that’s what dogs do, they bark. Barking is a method dogs have to communicate in addition to using body language.
Although barking can be an issue for a lot of dog owners it may be handy for a few of them. It can be a warning for someone approaching their property or even breaking in. However, when it gets to a point where it’s excessive, it’s important to understand what you can do to keep it under control.
Dogs bark for several reasons and the first step to stop your dog from barking is to understand the logic of this behavior.
The most common reasons why dogs bark
Dogs have a different type of barking for each situation. Each bark has its own purpose and, with time, dog owners are able to identify what each type of bark means. A dog’s bark can vary in intensity, volume, and speed.
If you want a chance to stop your dog from barking, you need to understand why your dog is barking. Here are six common reasons:
- Alarm barking: When a dog barks because something they see as a threat is approaching. They’re giving out a warning. This type of bark starts suddenly and it’s a quick barking sequence without any pauses.
- Demand barking: When a dog barks because they want their owner to give them something. It can be attention, food, to go out, or a toy. Demand barking is a learned behavior. This means that your dog learned to bark to get what it wants because you or somebody else gave in to your dog’s demands.
- Compulsive barking: When a dog barks at almost anything. It can be because of random noises, other animals, and even members of the family. The most common emotions behind this type of bark are fear and boredom.
- Solitary barking: When a dog barks due to lonliness. This is very common in dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. In this type of bark, dogs make intentional pauses so they can listen for any response.
- Play barking: When a dog barks while playing. It’s usually a loud bark that shows their excitement. Its purpose is likely to encourage someone (a person or a dog) to chase them, play tug, or any other kind of play.
- Age-related barking: When a dog barks due to developing dementia or losing cognitive abilities as they age.
6 useful tips to stop your dog from barking
Most of these tips come from positive reinforcement techniques where the goal is to reward positive behavior and ignore or redirect unwanted behavior.
- Teach your dog to be quiet and relax on cue. VCA Hospitals has a few commands you can use to help suppress barking soon after it starts.
- Alarm barking typically stops when the perceived threat goes away. The best approach to prevent excessive barking is for you to create a positive experience for your dog whenever that same situation occurs.
- Dogs learn through immediate consequence of their actions. If a dog gets what it wants by barking, it’ll continue to bark so it’s important to never give in. Ignore your dog, look away or move into another room.
- Another approach to reduce demand barking is by using the quiet command, or asking your dog to relax on cue. Redirect your dog’s behavior by directing them to sit or shaking hands, so that you can give your dog what it wants.
- If your dog barks out of boredom, increase your pup’s physical and mental exercise. Go on longer walks and have regular training sessions. You can also use puzzle toys, or dedicate some time to play with your pooch.
- If you have a senior dog that barks due to dementia avoid scolding. It’s not your dog’s fault. Your dog doesn’t mean to upset you in any way and is just confused. Check with your vet if there’s anything you can do to help your dog stay calm.
3 things you should avoid when you want to stop dog barking
Just like there are things you can do to stop your dog from barking, there are also some things that you should avoid at all costs. Here are the three main ones:
- Don’t encourage your dog to bark at anything when the goal is to stop your dog from barking. You either want your dog to bark or you don’t. You need to be consistent if you want to train your dog effectively.
- Never give in to a dog’s barking when they’re asking for something. That will only reinforce that they should bark to get it.
- Never punish a dog for barking or use any technique that can harm or scare them. Don’t keep a dog quiet by force by closing their mouth shut or muzzling them. Don’t use any tool that can hurt them and scare them into being quiet.
It can be annoying to have a dog that barks all the time. But now you have the information you need to deal with it because you’re able to understand why your dog is barking and what you can do to stop it.
Whenever you’re unable to find the reason behind your dog’s barking or think there may be something wrong with your dog, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for help. If your vet doesn’t find any physical reason for your dog’s barking he’ll be able to help you find a dog trainer that has experience dealing with this behavior.