Barking is how your dog communicates, but that doesn't mean it's always pleasant to listen to. Your dog's barking can quickly transform it from little angel to auditory nightmare.
Have you ever stopped to consider why dogs bark, though — and why they don't seem to get tired of barking excessively?
It turns out that dogs bark for many, many different reasons. Among the many potential causes are fear, anxiety, boredom, and more. Many dogs even use barking as a form of greeting. Here are the details.
Why Do Dogs Bark So Much? The many causes of dog barks
Most dogs will continue barking until they get the desired response from their owners, their environment, and other smaller dogs and/or other dogs. What causes them to bark in the first place, though? It turns out dogs have a wide variety of intentions behind all the noise, including:
Think of your dog as a sort of home security system. (That's how they think of themselves, at least.) If an unknown human or animal enters your dog's realm of influence, the system alarm is probably going to go off! Your dog is probably going to start barking — maybe barking excessively.
Soon after a dog begins living with its owners, they begin to see the owner's property as their territory. If a new person or another dog enters this ‘off-limits' territory, look out! Mailmen, handymen, delivery drivers, new friends, and stray animals are the most common victims of this type of barking.
This type of dog barking may seem like a nuisance, but it's actually a good thing. It shows that your dog is looking out for you.
Territorial barking is usually self-reinforcing. Most people your dog barks at (think the stereotypical mailman) leave soon after the barking begins. From your dog's perspective, all that noise worked. The intruder was scared off.
Dogs are truly social animals that usually enjoy the company of other dogs (and the company of their owners, of course).
inIf your furry friend isn't consistently getting the engaging attention they need, expect them to rebel. Probably by barking. Also expect them to keep on barking until this lack of attention is resolved.
Your dog may excessively bark and also boredom bark due to:
A desire to play
A desire to be acknowledged
A desire to ‘test out' a new environment
Dogs may also bark at one another to pass the time. This social barking is quite common. You've probably heard it yourself! Dogs use different types of barks to communicate with each other.
What sounds like a chaotic exchange between your dog's bark and your neighbor's dog may actually be a nuanced conversation between them, with each dog's barks expressing their intentions and emotional state.
Related to the point above is a type of barking called anxious barking. Anxious barking may be done out of boredom, but it's more commonly caused by unease or stress. Dogs with separation anxiety are also likely to get barkier than usual. This kind of barking may be more frequent when your pet is at doggy daycare or being watched by the dog sitter.
Anxious barking may sound whinier or higher pitched than your dog's normal bark. It's often triggered by loud sounds, new visitors at the house, etc. Dogs may bark anxiously at the same type they exhibit other destructive habits like chewing or making messes. If your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, try to go easy on them. Getting upset will just make things worse.
Wait, you might be thinking, didn't you already mention alarm barking?
Sort of…but this type is different.
Alarm barking is when your dog picks up on an unseen threat, normally a threat that the dog's owners don't yet perceive. Alarm barking can be super helpful — it's a powerful deterrent to would-be thieves and other criminals. While this type of barking may seem like attention seeking behavior at first, but it actually goes much deeper than that.
Your dog may also bark to let you know a storm is on the way. Dogs have been known to bark prior to hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, too. How'd they know? Because their senses are far more, well, sensitive than those of us humans.
How can I stop my dog's excessive barking?
Dogs bark excessively for a wide variety of reasons, and dogs rarely get tired of barking on their own. It's safe to say that virtually all pet and dog owners will hope their dogs will cut down on all the barking at one point or another!
But the good news is that your dog's barking can be reduced through something called positive reinforcement training. Train your dog this way and you'll be prioritizing the reward of good behavior, not punishing bad behavior.
Here's how to keep dog barking to a minimum using natural treatment options and even get them to stop barking.
Remove the stimulus
This strategy involves making it easier for your dog to avoid barking. If you notice your dog looking out the window and barking at passersby, just close the curtains or move your furry friend to another room. You can also use toys or bones to make loud sound to distract your dog until their environment improves.
Keep your dog active
Dogs need both mental stimulation and physical stimulation to feel their best. A physically tired dog is a well-behaved dog! Spending lots of time exercising your dog outdoor is one of the simplest, surest ways to improve your dog's health.
Look for opportunities to frequent dog parks, go on walks or runs, or play fetch. And if you're feeling super adventurous (and skilled) you can take your dog along with you while biking or rollerblading. Trust us — it's a bunch of fun.
All in all, a tired dog is much less likely to bark excessively.
Offer new activities
It's tempting to just yell at your pet when they're misbehaving. “Stop barking! Shh!” As tired as you are of the barking, though, don't let it give you a bad attitude. Yelling during these times might backfire and make your dog bark even more.
Try offering your pet a treat or chew toy instead. It'll be hard for them to do all that excessive barking when they're chowing down on something they enjoy. And don't forget that dogs are pack animals. Surround your dog with other dogs and they very well may start behaving better.
If you can't reduce your pet's unwanted behaviors through these techniques, you can always consider getting your dog a bark collar. Some bark collars can be a great safe solution the would reinforce when is a good time to bark and when is an inappropriate time. Be sure to read the reviews and safety ratings before using a bark collar.
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Dog barks: do some dog breeds bark more than others?
Oh yes! Some dog breeds are much more predisposed to barking than others. Try to be patient if your dog is among the breeds that are prone to excessive barking:
What's causing my dog's barking? Final thoughts
We humans like to overcomplicate things sometimes. Barking is as natural to dogs as talking is to us! If your dog barks incessantly, though, it may be time for a chance.
Don't try to eliminate your dog's barking entirely. Rather than trying to stop excessive barking, see if you can bring it down to an acceptable level. Be sure to give your dog enough attention, exercise, and social time…and see if things don't work themselves out on their own.