Any dog owner knows that any dog can get into a fit of barking that’s hard to come back from. Once a dog gets excited, it’s hard to calm them down. This can especially be the case if you have a very large dog since they are harder to control.
Why do dogs bark? And what can we do as good owners to help teach our dogs not to bark too much? Today we take a look at the top 7 reasons that dogs bark and what you can do to help break them of the habit.
7 Reasons Dogs Bark
One of the most common reasons a dog would bark would be to warn you. Your dog might bark if someone walks past the yard, the mailman comes to the door, or even if a loud car drives by. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Many dogs see themselves as guardians. They are ready to warn their family of any possible danger. This is a task dogs have had for centuries. Your dog doesn’t know that most people who walk by are friendly.
If your dog’s protective bark becomes too much, consider training them to come to you when you call them. A few barks are a helpful warning, but your dog should know to stop once they get your attention.
Anxiety is another source of incessant barking. Many dogs feel separation anxiety when you leave, and they’ll let you know. Your dog might also bark if you’re trying to take them to the vet or another place, they know they don’t like. If your dog is barking from anxiety, it is often accompanied by high pitched whining.
Your dog might bark to get your attention. Most dogs want to play with their owners. If you’ve spent the day ignoring your dog and focusing on work, it makes sense that they might want to give you a playful nudge by barking. If your dog wants attention, they might let out a high-pitched bark.
Imagine a box of puppies all playing together. You can likely already hear the excited barks they might let out. Many dogs will let out a little excited bark. These barks usually come out when they know they are about to get a treat or if something fun is about to happen. If you grab your dog’s leash or if you grab their brush, you might hear the bark of an excited dog.
Even for adult dogs, an excited bark is rather upbeat, almost as though they are encouraging you.
Call and Answer
Dogs are social, so they might bark when other dogs bark. According to the ASPCA, “Some dogs bark excessively only when they hear other dogs barking. This kind of barking occurs in the social context of hearing other dogs, even at a distance—such as dogs in the neighborhood.”
Dogs like to be around other pets and people. If they are alone and bored, they might become sad. Sad dogs show many undesirable behaviors – from destructive acts to excessive barking. So, when you leave the house, make sure you leave some stimulation in the form of toys and treats and for them to occupy their time. One good idea is to provide frozen treats, so they get tired out and sleep for most of the time you’re gone. Another tactic is to take them on a long walk and exercise them thoroughly before you leave. A sleepy dog is a happy dog.
Some breeds, especially those who are watchdogs and hunters, are known to bark. For instance, Beagles and Terrier breeds are notorious barkers. Meanwhile, dogs like Huskies are known to howl and “talk.” Every breed is different! But a breed’s reputation for barking should be considered before you adopt or purchase a dog.
What to Do If Your Dog Barks Too Much?
Once you identify the reason, it’s usually an apparent fix to getting your dog to stop barking. However, if you have a dog that barks that isn’t struggling with one of the above issues, it’s time to take them to the vet. Your dog may be in pain or uncomfortable. Also, is your dog older? It’s possible they are not feeling well or losing one of their senses, like their sight or hearing. Once a vet has examined your dog, you can discuss what next steps to take.
Then, there are dogs with obsessive barking. In this case, the non-stop barking probably leads you to join in on the noise by yelling at them, but that’s not the best way to address the barking. Instead, remain calm and call the dog to you. If you don’t already, work on some basic obedience.
For the worst cases, consider reaching out to an animal behaviorist. They help dogs with persistent, complex problems like excessive barking.