Most dogs love a good bark – it’s their way of communicating with us. And for some dog owners it’s part of everyday life. Of course you love the bones of them, but sometimes those persistent woofs can drive you nuts. Not to mention the neighbours too.
When barking is too much and too often, it can become a problem. We certainly don’t want that. Getting to the bottom of the barking first is the best way to know how to fix it. So here’s why your dog might bark and a few ways to help curb it.
Reasons a dog may bark
· Frustration – Is their meal delayed? Are they desperate to say hi to another person or dog? Or maybe you’re taking too long getting ready for their walk.
· Excitement – Have you just walked through the door after a long day at work? Or perhaps they know the signs it’s time for a training session.
· Alerting you – When the doorbell or phone rings, some dogs just like to help.
· Fear – Perhaps a new dog has come too close, or something startled them in the dark.
· Loneliness – Some dogs don’t cope well on their own, and noises outside can add to their anxiety.
· Grumpiness – Loud noises can disturb your dog and they’re not shy to tell you about it.
· Attention seeking – Is it playtime and you hadn’t realised, or are you giving another dog too much attention?
· Defending their territory/Aggression – Some dogs will bark to warn off potential intruders or space invaders.
Certain medical problems can also cause excessive barking. So if your dog has suddenly started barking more often, it’s worth discussing with your vet.
Related blog: 11 signs of anxiety in dogs and how to treat it
How to stop dog barking at night
Believe it or not, you may have accidentally encouraged your dog’s night time barking. If you’ve ever got up to soothe your dog during the night, they quickly learn that barking brings you running. A lightbulb moment for your dog – barking is followed by a reward. Don’t worry though, here’s how to put a stop to it.
· Don’t go to them. We know it’s tough, but try to ignore it and don’t leave your bed while they’re barking or whining.
· Don’t respond. Don’t call out to soothe your dog or tell them to be quiet. Any kind of attention is a reward.
· Stick with it. If you comfort your dog once, they’ll know that sometimes barking gets them what they want. So the behaviour continues. Be consistent.
How to stop puppy barking
Your puppy is just a baby, and it’s down to you to teach them how to behave. They’re just discovering their voice – and well, barking is good fun. So they need to learn from you what’s appropriate, and what’s not. Train your puppy good dog manners by teaching the ‘quiet’ command early on:
· Say ‘quiet’ as your puppy is barking
· Hold a treat in front of their nose
· Praise your puppy when they stop barking to smell the treat
· Give your puppy the treat
· Repeat, repeat, repeat
How to stop dog barking at other dogs
If your dog barks or lunges at other dogs whether through a window or out walking, it can be embarrassing. We get that. It’s what dog trainers of the world call ‘reactivity.’ It can also be caused by fear or over-excitement. Depending on the cause there are a few methods you can try:
· Keep them away from the window so they can’t see other dogs outside.
· Keep your distance. Be aware of your surroundings and start avoiding other dogs. Cross the street or turn around if you need to.
· Distract and desensitize your dog to their triggers by feeding treats whenever other dogs are around. This shows your dog good things happen when they’re calm.
If you’re still having problems, contact a dog behaviourist to help with your dog’s barking. A behaviourist will work with you one on one to help you uncover the cause, and manage the issue with training.