Barking is one of the ways dogs communicate and is perfectly normal canine behavior. However, when a dog barks too much or too often, difficult situations can develop; especially with your neighbors.
To tackle problem barking, you must first figure out why your dog is barking so much in the first place. Once you’ve understood why it’s happening, you will be able to resolve the issue and make an unhappy situation right again.
It is important to determine what triggers your dog’s barking behavior so that you can put a plan in place to cut down the noise they make. It’s natural for your dog to bark from time to time, some dogs bark more than others, and this can largely depends on their breed.
Below are the most common situations that can cause a dog to bark excessively, followed by simple steps you can put in place to reduce your dog’s barking.
1. A knock at the door
If your dog barks every time there is a knock at your door, they will usually be barking in alarm at the new and sudden sound. For example, if they see a visitor walking up your drive, they ‘alarm bark’ to let you know something is about to happen. Dogs may also alarm bark when the phone rings.
To take their mind off the situation at hand, try distracting them by giving them a verbal cue to bring a toy, or go to bed. By asking them to go to bed, you will also remove them from the situation which means you can get on with answering the door or collecting the mail. Remember to reward good behavior with a treat as this will encourage them to it again next time you ask.
2. Barking at cats or birds in the yard
If your dog barks at cats or birds in your yard, teach them a reliable recall that rewards them for turning away from the thing that triggers their barking and coming to you instead. As you have very little control over this situation, you will need to apply a method that gives you a way to manage it.
If your dog is rewarded with a treat when they come to you instead of barking at a bird or cat, they will pay more attention to you than anything else, and even if they do start barking at a bird or a cat, they are much more likely to return to you when you call them, knowing a treat is in store.
3. Barking at anyone that walks past the house
If your dog likes to sit at the window and bark at everyone that walks by, simply block access to the place they like to sit, and instead set up an alternative, comfortable spot for them to sit away from the window.
If your dog and barks at passersby when they are in your yard, make use of recall commands and praise your pet for returning to you rather than barking. If you can’t supervise your dog in the yard, then don’t leave them there on their own without something to distract them, such as treats hidden in the ground for them to dig up, or their favorite toy.
4. Home alone
As dogs are social animals that like to live in groups, they can easily become upset when they are left alone for too long.If your dog barks a lot when they are left on their own, you can find lots of helpful tips here.
5. Barking for attention
Many owners verbally respond to their dog barking without even realizing it. Raising your voice, shouting, or telling your dog off for barking, are all forms of attention and by doing so you are inadvertently rewarding your dog by giving them the attention they are asking for.
Instead, ignore the barking and wait until your dog stops. If simply waiting silently doesn’t work, calmly ask them to “sit” or “lie down”. Once they are calm and have stopped barking, praise them with lots of love and a few treats.
6. Barking out of boredom
A lot of dogs bark because there is little else to do. If your dog has too much free time in their day, try to get them more exercise. This could be an extra walk or spending some time in your yard. You can also fill their time with training practice, and toys and games.
7. Dogs that bark at other dogs
Dogs that bark at other dogs will only do so for two reasons. Firstly, they want to get close to the other dog, or secondly, because they are scared of the other dog.
Either way, this kind of behavior can make walking your dog unpleasant and is likely to become worse over time. The most suitable way to tackle this situation is to seek help from a dog behavioral professional.
My dog still won’t stop barking!
If you have followed the above advice and are still struggling to figure out why your dog is barking, then please don’t panic. Dogs may bark for other reasons that are not as straightforward, and qualified pet behaviorists will be able to help you. Ask your vet for information local dog behaviorists who can help you and your dog.
The noise from constant barking, and the frustration of being unable to solve the problem, can be upsetting and annoying but remember never to take negative feelings out on your dog. Punishing your pet might temporarily suppress their behavior but it will not solve the cause and can lead to your dog losing love and trust in you.