For a dog barking is a way of vocalization. It can warn the owner when someone approaches your home. Barking is also a way that the dog can get attention. However, on occasion a dog’s barking can become excessive. It is important to identify the reason for the barking in order to find a solution.
If a dog is rewarded for his barking, he may learn to use barking for his benefit. For example, if a dog barks for attention successfully then he will expand his barking to get other things, like food, play and walks. It is therefore important to train your dog to be quiet on command and direct his barking to another behavior – like sit or down – to obtain what he wants.
It is possible to determine what the dog wants by just hearing the type of bark. For example, a want-to-play bark sounds different to when he wants to come inside. It’s essential to determine the cause if you want to reduce the barking. It may take time to achieve this goal – it’s not feasible to expect a quick fix. Your goal will be to reduce, rather than stop, the amount of barking. There are some dog breeds that are “barkers,” and it can be difficult to reduce barking for some individuals of these breeds.
Reasons for dog barking
Excessive barking can be due to people, dogs or other animals coming into or getting close to their territories. Your dog’s territory is his home and surrounding area. It can be a broader space and include anywhere he has explored or is connected with you. This can be your car, the road you take during walks and other familiar places where he may spend a lot of time.
If your dog barks at any and every noise and sight, he’s most likely alarm barking. Dogs engaged in alarm barking hold their bodies in a tighter manner than dogs who are barking to greet. It is usual for the dog to move or pounce forward an inch or two with every bark. Alarm barking can occur in response to sights or sounds in virtually any place at all, not just familiar areas.
Some dogs bark to get attention or rewards, such as food, toys or play.
Your pooch might be barking in greeting at people or other dogs and his body is relaxed, he’s enthusiastic and his tail is wagging. Somewhat strangely your dog could also whine instead of barking.
Excessive barking can be repetitive and can be associated with repetitive movements as well. An example could be a dog that is compulsively barking might run up and down the fence line in his home.
Socially Facilitated Barking
Some dogs bark too much only once they hear other dogs barking, such as dogs in the neighborhood.
Some dogs excessively bark when their actions are limited. For example, when they can’t access play pals or when they’re tied up.
Other Issues That Induce Barking
Illness or Injury
Dogs can excessively bark as a result of pain or an agonizing condition. Your pet should be examined by a vet to eliminate medical causes.
Excessive barking as a result of separation anxiety occurs only when a dog’s caretaker is gone or when the dog is left alone. You’ll typically see a minimum of one other separation anxiety symptom as well, such as pacing, destruction, elimination, depression or other signs of distress.
How to Handle Your Dog’s Excessive Barking
The first task toward reducing your dog’s barking is to figure out the kind of bark your dog is expressing. The following questions can guide you to precisely choose which type of barking your dog is doing to help you best address your dog’s problem.
- When and where does the barking happen?
- Who or what is the focus of the barking?
- What triggers (people, object, situation) the barking?
- Why is your dog barking?
If It’s Territorial Barking
Territorial behavior is frequently stimulated by both fear and anticipation of a perceived risk or threat. Guarding territory is a high priority. Many canines have high motivation to bark when a stranger approaches or animals come near familiar places, such as their homes and yards.
This top level of motivation implies that when barking territorially, your dog might disregard uncomfortable or punishing responses from you, like scolding or yelling. Even if the barking itself reduces by punishment, your dog’s motivation to protect his territory will remain powerful, and he might make an effort to control his territory differently, like biting unexpectedly.
Canines participate in territorial barking to alert others to the presence of unknown individuals or to frighten away intruders or both. A dog might bark when he sees or hears people coming over to the door. People like the mail carrier delivering the mail and the maintenance person examining the gas meter. He might also respond to the sights and sounds of people and dogs passing by your house. Some dogs get particularly riled up when they’re in the car and see people or dogs go by. You need to judge from your dog’s body posture and actions whether he barks to say “Welcome, come on in!” or “Go away. You’re not welcome here!”
Block Their View
To treat territorial barking, your dog’s motivation must be reduced as well as his chances to defend his territory. To handle your dog’s behavior, you need to block his capacity to see people and animals. Detachable plastic film or spray-based glass coatings can assist to obscure your dog’s view of areas that he notices and guards from within your house.
For outside areas use fencing that is opaque. Don’t allow your dog to greet folks at the front door, at your front yard gate or at your property boundary line. It is better to train him to go to another location and stay quiet until he’s invited to greet properly.
If It’s Alarm Barking
Alarm barking is quite much like territorial barking in that it’s triggered by sights and sounds. Nonetheless, dogs that alarm bark might do so as a result of things that surprise or upset them when they’re not on familiar turf. For instance, a dog who barks territorially in response to the sight of unknown people drawing near will usually only do so when in his own home, yard or car. By comparison, a pooch who repeatedly alarm barks might vocalize when he sees or hears unknown people drawing near elsewhere, too.
If your dog carries on alarm or territorial barking, in spite of your efforts to block his exposure to sights and sounds that might set off his barking, try the following quiet strategies:
Train your dog that when someone comes to the door or passes by your premises, he’s allowed to bark until you say “Quiet.” Let your dog bark three times. Then say “Quiet.” Avoid yelling. Just say the command clearly and with ease. Then gently hold his mouth closed and repeat “Quiet.” Release, step away, and call him away from the door or window. Then ask him to sit and present him a treat.
If he sits beside you and stays quiet, continue to keep giving him frequent goodies for an additional couple of minutes, until whatever triggered his barking has vanished. If your dog resumes barking instantly, repeat the abovementioned sequence. Do the same outdoors if he barks at passersby when he’s in the yard.
If you do not like to hold your dog’s mouth or this frightens your dog or makes him struggle, you can seek a different method. When your dog barks, approach him, smoothly say “Quiet,” and then prompt his silence by giving him a steady flow of tiny, pea-sized treats. After enough practice of this sequence, over a couple of days or more of coaching, your dog will begin to determine what “Quiet” means.
You’ll know that he’s catching on if he regularly stops barking when he hears you say “Quiet.” At this time, you can gradually prolong the time between the cue, “Quiet,” and your dog’s treat. Over several repetitions, progressively increase the time.
If the “Quiet” method is unproductive after 10 to 20 tries, then let your dog bark 3 to 4 times, calmly say “Quiet”. Right away produce a startling noise by shaking a set of keys or an empty soda can stuffed with pennies. If your dog is successfully startled by the sound, he’ll stop barking.
The moment he does, call him away from the door or window, ask him to sit, and present him a treat. If he stays beside you and is quiet, carry on and give him regular treats for the next few minutes until whatever started his barking is gone. Repeat the sequence if he continues barking instantly. If this process doesn’t work after 10 to 20 attempts, seek professional help.
Barking at People or Other Dogs
If your dog barks at people or other dogs during walks, draw attention away with special treats, like chicken, cheese or hot dogs, before he starts to bark. Show your dog the doggie snacks by holding them in front of his nose, and encourage him to nibble at them while he’s walking past a person or dog who’d normally trigger him to bark. Some dogs do best if you ask them to sit as people or other dogs pass. Other canines would rather move. Make sure you compliment and reward your dog with treats whenever he decides not to bark.
If your dog usually barks territorially in your vehicle, teach him to ride in a crate while in the car. Riding in a crate will limit your dog’s view and decrease his motivation to bark. An alternative is to try having your dog wear a head halter inside the car instead.