Dogs are cute and cuddly beings that bring us joy, no doubt. But all dog owners know that it isn’t always rainbows and sunshine when taking care of a pooch. Dog owners are well aware of how often they witness their dogs incessantly barking at random things and sometimes, for absolutely no reason. However, excessive barking in dogs often has a reason; all you need to do it recognise it. While barking is a normal way of communication for dogs, excessive barking is more of a behavioural issue.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark – it’s how they communicate. But, the reason for their bark can be varied. Most trained dogs also tend to bark excessively on certain occasions. This could be for the following reasons:
Barking for attention is very common among dogs. It could be because they need something or simply want a rub behind their ears.
When your pooch is scared, barking is the one way he can express that fear.
Dogs prefer company as naturally; they are pack animals. Left alone to their own devices, they tend to bark as a sign of displeasure.
4. Separation Anxiety
In extension to the above point, dogs do not like to be left alone. Some dogs develop separation anxiety and resort to excessive barking during these periods.
Certain dogs that are very excited to meet new dogs and strangers often bark as a sign of greeting.
Dogs guard their territory very diligently and are often wary of strangers or dogs that enter into what they consider as their territory. As a result, they bark.
If your dog is hurt or has a medical condition that is causing him distress, he will bark. Ensure you reach out to a vet in such cases.
What are Its Types?
Before your get to how to stop excessive barking in dogs, you’ll need to touch base upon the different types of barking that are common in most dogs.
1. Alert Barking
You must have seen your dog barking at the door when the doorbell rings, or when someone approaches the door, or at night at the slightest noise. This is because dogs are very watchful and they take it upon themselves to warn you of the potential approaching threat. This also aligns with their idea that someone is encroaching their territory, and hence, they are on guard and ready to defend.
2. Request Barking
Be it attention, food, play, or walk, dogs tend to bark in order to obtain these things that excite them. This is their way of requesting you to give in to their needs.
3. Fear Barking
If your dog is not used to people or other dogs, or he hears and sees something that scares him, he will usually bark at it. Barking at strangers and guests is common with dogs that are wary of them. Such barking may be accompanied with the tail tucked between the hind legs or a rigid frame.
4. Bored Barking
If your dog spends a lot of time alone and does not have enough interaction with you, he will bark just out of boredom. You will need to give him enough attention once you come home to make up for it.
Tips to Keep a Dog From Barking
Training a dog not to bark is effective in preventing these episodes of intense and excessive barking behaviour. If you let it slide, it could become worse and impossible to handle.
1. Tire Out Your Dog
Dogs that bark out of boredom do well with plenty of exercise. A walk or an outing in the dog park, or better yet, a beach outing can give your dog enough place to run around. Doggy play dates or physical stimulation challenges are also great ways to occupy your dog and use up that pent up energy that often translates to barking.
2. Avoid Long Hours of Absence
If you know that your dog does not do well when alone, try and lower the period of time that you are separated from your dog. Dogs left alone may bark for long hours or engage in other destructive behaviour. Filling a Kong with kibble, treats or even peanut butter to keep him occupied mentally is a great way of stopping your dog from barking when left alone.
3. Ignore the Bark
Any attention your dog gets when he barks is a motivation for him to continue barking. So, do not yell at your dog. You will need to completely ignore him for as long as he barks and pay attention to him once he stops. Reward him even if he stops barking for a few seconds in between. This will associate rewards with silence and with consistency, he’ll pick up the cue.
4. Remove the Motivation
If your dog barks at passersby and other dogs on the street, it is a good idea to prevent him from being able to watch them. If he watches out the window, block the window. You could slowly try pulling up the shades until your dog is completely disinterested in what’s out the window. IF he’s out in the yard, you will need to bring in him.
5. Teach Commands
Teaching your dog simple commands like ‘hush’ or ‘quiet’ can be a huge saviour in such instances. You will need to start by teaching to speak/bark on cue. When your dog barks on cue, give him a reward. Keep doing this until he barks the minutes you say the command. Next, as he barks say hush/quiet. The second he stops barking, give him a treat. You will need to repeat this until he stays quiet on cue.
6. Occupy Your Dog Mentally
Mental challenges are a great way to distract a dog and keep him occupied. This will prevent your idle dog from frustrating the neighbours. Fill a Kong, hide some treats all over the house for him to find or give him frozen toys or treats that he can invest his time in for hours.
7.Get Him Used to Stimuli
If your dog barks at other dogs, desensitise him to this stimulus. When you see a different dog a distance, but your dog hasn’t noticed yet, starting rewarding him with treats right from that moment. As you move closer to the dog, continue to reward your dog only until the other dog is out of sight. It is important that you associate the stimulus with positive things, so the next time your dog will expect treats and be less focused on barking. This is an effective way of stopping a dog barking at other dogs.
8. Never Use Negative Reinforcement
Do not yell at your dog when he starts barking. He will interpret this as attention and continue to bark. Hitting your dog, using shock collars, etc., are ineffective and cruel methods that do not work in the long run.
1.Can I Stop a Neighbour’s Dog From Barking?
If you are troubled or disturbed by an excessively barking dog in the neighbourhood, the first thing you could do is approach the owners and talk to them about this politely. You may want to go through the community association in some cases, or write a polite letter addressing the issue. You can also try suggesting them to approach a dog trainer to fix the behaviour issue. You may want to call the police as a last resort, at the cost of straining your relationship with your neighbours.
Excessive barking in dogs can be an issue that can cause several problems, especially if you live in a densely populated area. Ensuring that your dog is well-trained can help you during such occasions to avoid unnecessary confrontations.