By Guest Author Percy Jackson
Barking is a natural and instinctive behaviour for dogs. In the wild they would bark to warn others, in aggression, or even when playing. If your dog is barking a lot then you need to work out what is triggering the barking and what you can do to stop it.
What Causes A Dog To Bark?
There are many things that can cause a dog to bark excessively:
- To protect their ‘pack’ or family group. This means your dog may be trying to warn you of something it considers to be a threat or barking directly at the ‘threat’ to scare it away. This can be due to a previous bad experience such as an aggressive dog walking past the house and your dog trying to protect his territory, or a noisy car which drives past every day which the dog finds threatening.Dogs that become over attached to a person or family can become overly protective and find every little thing threatening and are constantly barking to ‘protect’ their family.
- Attention seeking barking. Again this is a result of a dog becoming to attached to a person or family. They want their attention all the time and one way they know they can get this is to bark. The barking will always result in a reaction, and either bad or good the dog will be pleased it has been acknowledged.
- Separation Anxiety. This is similar to attention seeking barking in that the dog has become over-attached to its owner. The difference is that that this time the dog is barking to ‘call’ the owner back when they go out or move away from the dog.
- Because they get over excited. Some breeds are more prone to this than others. They will become very excited at the prospect of a walk or while playing and bark uncontrollably. This behaviour is developed over time, often because of an owner who encourages their dog to bark during play or at other exciting times.
- A lack of socialisation with other dogs. Dogs are social animals but just like humans they must learn and develop their social skills as the grow older. A dog who has not been socialised when young may not know how to act with other dogs and may bark at them as this seems to them like the best way to get their attention. This may cause them to constantly bark at other dogs they see outside the home.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Barking?
The method you use to stop your dog barking depends on the cause:
- Over protective dogs. If your dog has become over protective of his territory then there are a number of things you can try to stop the problem. The first and most obvious is blocking his view of the things going on outside of the house and garden. A solid fence would be one way of doing this. The next thing to try is to interrupt his barking by using a pet corrector or water spray and refocus him on something else which he enjoys.
- Attention seeking barking. First of all you should not respond to the barking. Reacting in any way, positive or negative, will result in the dog getting what it wants – your attention. Turn away from the dog and if necessary move into another room. When your dog eventually gives up and lays down or goes to its bed then do not approach it to say well done.
- Only react to your dog when you have called it to come to you. Reward it with a treat and be sure to train it to return to its bed when you tell it to. Once your dog learns it cannot get your attention by barking at you it should stop doing it.
- Separation anxiety. This can be a complex emotional problem to solve. It comes from your dog feeling stressed and uneasy when you are not there. A dog crate can be a ‘den’ for your dog to feel more comfortable in. Using a calming pheromone or spray can also help. You must gradually increase the amount of time you leave your dog so that it learns to settle when you are not there.
- Over excitement. Deal with this in a similar way to attention seeking barking. It is great that your dog is excited about going for a walk for example, it shows he enjoys it, but teach him that barking will only mean he must wait longer to go. Calmly stand and wait until your dog stops barking and command him to sit or lay. When he does so put his lead on.If he starts barking again then ask him to sit or lay again until he learns that this, not barking, will result in the exciting activity he want to do.
- Unsocialised dogs. Make an effort to introduce your dog to others you meet on walks and in the park. Many dog owners will understand if you explain your dog needs more socialisation, but take precautions such as a muzzle if you think your dog is likely to snap at another dog. Joining a local dog training club can be a great way to socialise your dog and get them to learn a few tricks too!
A dog that incessantly barks can be a real nuisance but by understanding why he barks and following the advice above, you should be able to lessen or totally stop unwanted barking. It does take time but persistence is key and be confident that you’ll eventually succeed.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Percy Jackson is an avid dog fan, he has two himself and couldn’t imagine a day without them. He now writes on a blog and his advice includes everything from feeding your dog the right food to whether dog insurance is really necessary – to see his view on the latter, you can visit his site now at http://www.percyspets.co.uk/582/dog-insurance-explained.html.
You might also enjoy reading A Dog Bark Translation Guide.