Barking is a natural instinct for our dogs. It’s how they vocalise to communicate with us or other dogs.
I think you’ll agree we want our dogs to bark in some circumstances, such as when they sense danger, or to protect us or themselves from harm.
However, excess barking can be a nuisance or considered a behavioural problem. When this is the case, how do we stop our dogs barking?
First we need to understand why dogs bark
There are various reasons why dogs bark, and no it’s not just to annoy us or the neighbours!
Understanding why our dogs bark is the first step to getting a solution to your problem.
We’ll take a look at some of the reasons dogs bark, but keep in mind we have some excellent Canine Psychologists in Australia who can be hired to assess your dog and create a plan of action to help.
So if in doubt, hire a professional! (It saves time and frustration!)
Reasons why dogs bark
Here are four main reasons why dogs bark:
Some breeds are more prone to barking. Did you know Terriers are the most prolific barkers?
In fact, small dogs bark far more often than medium or large breeds!
When our dogs bark for attention it can be harder for us to figure out why.
Barking for attention may be a result of the following:
- Boredom: Bored dogs like to hear the sound of their own voice. Research suggests bored dogs may benefit from the mental stimulation of barking.
- Anxiety : Most dogs crave company, and if they feel anxiety from loneliness then barking can provide a self-soothing effect. This type of barking is common for dogs with separation anxiety, although there are many causes of anxiety in dogs.
- Attention seeking : You will get this sort of barking when your dog want your attention. Hey you have left me outside, come and play with me. I need you! This can also occur when your dog think’s he’s a pack leader, which is often due to the dynamic of your household and how you treat him.
Playfulness / Physical need
This is more common in puppies and young dogs. As this usually only happens while in play it’s not overly problematic, and they tend to grow out of it.
Responding to dogs or noise
When our dogs bark in response to other dogs barking, or various loud noises, this can be considered natural behaviour. Generally barking triggers such as this are acceptable, and not something you want to train out of them.
Dogs are dogs!
How to stop a dog barking
There are many ways to stop a dog barking inappropriately, but knowing the underlying reason why should always be the first step towards success.
Here are ways to help stop a dog barking:
- Exercise exercise exercise this is the most important job that we have when we own a dog, making sure that their physical needs are met.
- Avoid leaving a dog alone for long periods of time, dogs love company!
- Ensure your dog has lots of toys to play with (oh, and make sure those toys are safe).
- Consider getting a companion (human or canine!).
- Do not shout at your dog when they do something wrong – this can be counter productive and stimulate the barking. Our dogs respond far better to positive reinforcement when they do something right, rather than being told off (did you know dogs don’t feel guilt like we do?).
- For the same reason as above, never physically punish your dog.
- Turn on a radio, music can help with the boredom or make them feel less alone.
- Distract your dog with commands. Practice basic commands to shift the attention, and when they respond reward them with a treat.
- Consider a training course, hiring a canine psychologist, or visit your local vet who will offer advice.