A barking dog can be annoying, but it’s as natural for dogs to bark as it is for humans to talk. That said, when it’s excessive and seems to stem for nowhere, it can cause a lot of stress and worry. Why is my dog barking? Is my dog stressed, unhappy, ill?
Before deciding on a course of action for stopping the barking, it is important to work out why your dog is barking so excessively. As your dog ages, you will come to learn what their different vocalisations mean.
Some breeds are naturally more talkative than others and will communicate with you regularly – in fact, these breeds are often deliberately bred to be barkers and bark to warn of potential dangers.
Others will bark because they’ve learned it gets them what they want, be it food or attention. However sometimes barking is a dog’s reaction to something stressful and it is important to be able to distinguish when this is the case.
Reasons for excessive barking:
Warning/alert – it’s common for dogs to bark at the door when someone knocks or a stranger passes by as it is a dog’s instinct to protect the homestead. This will usually settle down when the situation resolves (either by the stranger disappearing or the door being answered) and tends to sound sharp, loud and authoritative.
Attention-seeking – dogs will bark when they want something – a behaviour that is learnt if they always get what they want. Ignore barking and attention-seeking behaviours and reward quiet, compliant behaviours so your dog learns this instead.
Excitement – dogs will often bark when they’re feeling excited and playful and may respond to other dogs through loud, upbeat barking. You may find this happening just before a walk or car journey.
Anxiety – anxious barking usually acts to soothe a dog and sounds high-pitched or like a series of whines. Dogs with separation anxiety are likely to bark in this way.
Boredom – this type of barking is loud, repetitive and tends to be annoying. Bored dogs will bark to release excess energy and to fill the silence if they’re lonely.
If you are worried about your dog’s barking, consult your vet first and foremost. They will be able to advise you and may even put you in touch with a canine behaviourist. It is important to get to the root of the problem before it worsens.
In most cases, curbing barking comes down to basic training, exercise and mental stimulation, but if this doesn’t work, it might be necessary to seek a behaviourist’s intervention.
Please comment below if you have any advice or experience of dealing with excessive barking.