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Understanding excessive barking

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Understanding excessive barking

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.

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Comments

26th Feb 2018
Customer Since: July 2011
From: Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Our rescue Schnauzer barks! She barks on her walks at everything and nothing! Doesn’t bark much at home, only if one of the other dogs bark and the barking is a definite Schnauzer trait!

26th Feb 2018
Customer Since: December 2017
From: lincolnshire, United Kingdom

my dog is a barker at anything flying birds-cars-in the wrong place according to her - people coming and going from their own property even people she knows. I had tried a dog behaviourist and that worked until, due my being in taken to hospital and my dog having to go back to the kennels she came from, on her return she had gone back to barking as I said before.
It gets through to me sometimes and I have tried training her before we go out and turning back home when she barks but that no longer seems to work. She now looks and me' and waits for treats but anything and everything seems to upset her day.
What do I do next please

26th Feb 2018
Customer Since: January 2015
From: Greater Manchester, United Kingdom

My dog barks at ANYONE riding a bicycle. Young children used to aggravate her when she was in the front garden and they were riding bye. So she associates bicycle riders as agitators, man woman youth or child. She also barks if someone is approaching the house/front door, especially the post man/delivery man.

27th Feb 2018
Customer Since: March 2017
From: Oregon, United States

I have a dog that barks at every dog on the TV, seen or unseen, sometimes at other animals(but not quite as much). Its a loud excitable bark, tail raised. I get the same response to other dogs across the street when I am walking with him. All other times he is relatively quiet. Any thoughts?

27th Feb 2018
Customer Since: October 2017
From: Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

The English seem to have an aversion to learning new languages other than their own. Learn your dogs language rather than just expect him to understand yours

27th Feb 2018

I have a Jack Russell cross and her barking drives us crazy although I appreciate she is doing her job of warning her pack of possible danger. Apparently this is one of the inherited traits from the original wolf pack. One dog did the warning to the pack alpha and they reacted with signals using the ears.

27th Feb 2018

I dont know why but my female cockerpoo starts barking the moment she leaves the house for a walk.
She and her brother are walked together and I notice he will do a low rumbling noise at which she will bark several times.
I dont know if its his noise that starts her off or if its of her own observation.
He loves people coming up and wanting to stroke but she sets up a constant barking.
She will stop momentarily if someone strokes her but will jump back a step and start barking again.
Other people tell me they have a dog just the same that wont stop barking while out walking.
I notice that if she is fast asleep and a dog appears on the screen her brother does the low grumble sound and she leaps from her bed not knowing where to look as the dog on the screen having gone by then.
Her brother does the same sound if he sees sheep or animals of any kind on the tv or when we are out.
We find that treats dont help as she continues to try and bark even with it in her mouth almost choking on it.
We dont know why it started but it was when she was about six months old.
As she sometimes barks before even leaving the house for her walk I have tried delaying opening the door until she is quiet.
I then praise and give her a treat.
Open the door and get halfway down my path and she starts again.
I try taking her back inside the house closing the door and wait till she is calm again.We will get possibly out the gate and start off down the road but after a few yards she starts up again.

As she wont stop barking even for a treat ( when she pauses) I take her back and find that after doing this about five times she does stop for a while.
I dont know what starts her off as it doesnt seem to be anything. She saw a van with one of those revolving things on the top which I think is an air something.
We werent anywhere near it as it was at the bottom of the road.
It is now always parked there so it must be for someones work. But she will see it from a long way off and start barking at it.
I have tried sitting her by this van but she wont stop barking at it.
I dont think her brother is making his grumbling noise all the time she is barking but he does do it if he sees something a way off but he doesnt appear to be worried about anything as he happily walks on without barking at all.
I wish I knew the correct way to sort this out as I dont think she is happy. She will sit if someone is talking to me but doesnt stop barking and sometimes she will scoot behind my legs if someone bends down to stroke her ( I ask them to ignore her but some people think they have the knack) I dont think she will bite as she hasnt done so yet but I do wish people wouldnt try to stroke her even though I ask them to ignore her.
I have thought of sitting in a shopping area on a bench where everyone is trundling past for hours.
I thought this might 'fix' her phobia.
But I am not sure of the right thing to do for her.

1st Mar 2018

My 2 collies shriek / scream / bark at my husband in the garden. He has only to open the back door to set them off. It is getting way beyond a joke. Both are nervous / sensitive failed collies now aged 3. The worst culprit we have had 9 months and he taught the one we had first to do it. Number one doesn't mind my husband in the house. Number 2 is very panicky if he is around even indoors and he grumbles whilst rushing about. They alos fence run and bark but don't react noisily to the doorbell or people when out on walks. Any advice welcome.

11th Apr 2018
Customer Since: July 2010
From: Durham, United Kingdom

Barking for no apparent reason (what the vets call 'inappropriate vocalisation) can occur in old dogs developing dementia. This can be particularly distressing in the case of dogs, like my old boy who died 6 years ago, who have always been excellent communicators. You can't help them because you don't know what they want and they can't tell you because they don't know either. They may also, like my current oldie, lose their sense of time and bark because they think you have forgotten their dinner, because they think it's bed time long before it is. If they also have only limited vision because of cataracts they may also see things that aren't there and be alarmed by them. I'm finding SettleMe tablets a great help with this dog and wish they had been available the last time round.

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