It’s clear our dogs bark as a way of communicating, but what are some of the most common reasons for dogs barking? How can you stop a dog that’s barking too much?
Barking is completely normal behaviour for dogs. It’s their main form of communication, and dogs have almost as many reasons for barking as humans do for talking.
Here are some of the more common reasons your dog may be barking.
Guarding their territory
Dogs are highly territorial animals and will defend their home fiercely. When an unfamiliar person or animal comes into what your dog considers its territory, this is often a trigger for excessive barking.
Fear is another common reason your dog may bark. Just like a human might scream if frightened, a dog is no different. This can happen in their home territory, or out in public.
Loud noises and sudden movements can sometimes trigger this reaction in dogs.
As dogs are pack animals, they can get bored and lonely when left by themselves for long periods of time.
Bored and/or lonely dogs will often bark for hours in frustration, which can become a problem for your neighbours.
At the other end of the scale, many dogs bark when they’re very happy, such as when they see you after you’ve been gone all day. They just can’t contain their excitement, and this comes out in barks, much like an excited human yelling.
Trying to get your attention
As barking is the only way a dog can communicate, if they need you for something and you’re not paying attention, a bark is often the only way to get your attention.
What to do if your dog is barking excessively
First of all, don’t yell at your dog to stop barking. This is effectively barking back at your dog, and will only make the barking worse.
Pick a word such as ‘quiet’ and repeat it calmly and firmly to your dog, without raising your voice to yelling levels.
Wait until they stop barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise them and give them a treat.
Be careful to never reward your dog while they are barking. Eventually they will figure out that if they stop barking at the word ‘quiet’ they get a treat.
Remember also that a tired dog is a quiet dog. If you know your dog is prone to barking when left alone, make sure you tire them out with a long exercise session before you leave.
Does your dog bark a lot? How to you manage it? Let us know in the comments section below.