Bark, bark, bark!
From yappy Chihuahuas to deep-chested Great Danes, constant barking is enough to drive any pet owner a little bit crazy, wouldn’t you agree?
Sometimes, when your dog barks too much, it can feel totally unmanageable. Not to mention this can become disruptive to your neighbours and others that engage with you and your pooch. When barking becomes a constant nuisance, it is often a sign that some larger issue is at play. For example, PetMD points out that common reasons why a dog won’t stop barking include anxiety, a fixation, or excitement.
But it can be overwhelming for pet owners striving to love and care for their companion as best they can. As a dog owner, a golden rule to keep in mind is that your dog’s way of communication is through…yes, you guessed it! Barking.
So, when they bark, especially in excess, they typically need something from you. Let’s find out what that could be!
What is Your Dog Trying to Communicate? 3 Possibilities
While your dog barking may seem like problematic behaviour, there is often an underlying message. Some reasons your dog might be barking are:
1. They are bored, lonely, or have separation anxiety
Dogs are pack animals. If they are left alone too long or too often, they may bark because they are lonely. They will especially bark if they deal with separation anxiety. This barking tends to happen more often when you are not around, just before you leave the house, or just after you get home.
2. They are very territorial, protective, or easily alarmed
Many pups are naturally protective of their owners and families. Some breeds more than others (like Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Komondors). Still, most dogs have this instinct to some extent. These barks tend to be a bit more aggressive, especially when your dog feels particularly threatened. This type of barking can occur in excess with traumatized animals, anxious pets, and more assertive breeds.
3. They are excitable, friendly, or just seeking some attention
When dogs meet people they like, they will often bark in excitement. If your dog is especially friendly, this barking can appear more hectic. However, it is usually just their way of trying to be playful or establish a relationship with a person or another animal they like.
Addressing the Issue. What Should You Do When a Dog Barks Excessively?
Understandably, it can be frustrating to live with a “barky” dog. The good news is paying attention to their behaviours will allow you to pinpoint the issue. As long as they are not dealing with physical pain or an ailment causing them to bark for help, their barking can often be addressed and fixed over time.
Take proper care of their needs
Make sure there is always access to water and food. This is one of the most basic things you can do to soothe your pet. The Humane Society of the United States has lots of excellent free resources for new dog owners.
Engage with your pet daily
Interacting with them every day helps establish a stronger bond between you and your dog, making them more inclined to listen to you, trust you, and help satiate their loneliness. This includes taking your dog for daily walks to exert excess energy and even socializing more with other pets or people.
Build them a schedule and stick to it
Feeding, walking, playing with, and training them at the same time every day may help soothe some of their anxieties. This helps them know when to expect certain things and can do wonders for calming their temperament. Take them on a walk before you go out for grocery shopping or play fetch before leaving for work. Small things like these mean a lot to your little four-legged companion.
Give Them Toys and Bones
What pup doesn’t love a good bone? This is especially true for compulsive barkers. They often just have extra energy and need something to do other than barking. Toys are a great way to offer your dog mental stimulation while you are unavailable. Keeping your dog busy and distracted will prevent them from running around barking for attention.
Manage Their Surroundings
If your dog is always barking out the window, and you notice this as one of their triggers, limit or eliminate window time by closing the shutters or blinds. This will discourage your pet from barking at animals or people outside. If you notice any other triggers, find ways to limit or eliminate them from your dog’s environment.
Remember, barking isn’t “bad” behaviour
Since dogs use barking to communicate with people and other animals, we can use this knowledge to address cases of excessive barking. Often barking is a way for our dogs to notify us of certain triggers in their surroundings, express their excitement, or even serve as a reminder that they are healthy, happy animals.
Addressing the source of why your dog is barking is often the first step to incorporating habits, activities, and other things that will help manage and even potentially eliminate nuisance barking. And when in doubt, don’t forget! Canine behaviourists and dog trainers are there to help.