Dog Barking – The Good Bark and the Bad Bark!
5 May, 2015
Our dogs will bark as a way to communicate with us as it is their only means of vocal communication. Dogs don’t bark to annoy us or anyone else, nor for spite or to be vengeful. Dogs don’t bark just because they can but because they are usually trying to tell us something. Certain dog breeds bark more than other as it is inherent in their breed. However, if your dog is barking excessively, the best way to control the barking is to figure out why your dog is barking in the first place.
Below are some of the reasons your dog might be barking and what the bark sounds like.
Your dog might bark as a warning, protective instinct
It is natural for your dog to bark when someone is at the door or when strangers pass the house or car. Many will bark if they sense some type of threat, proclaiming that they are protecting you. The sound of this bark is usually sharp, loud and authoritative.
Your dog might bark if he is anxious
Anxious barking often seems to be an act of relaxation for many dogs. It is often high-pitched and sometimes accompanied by whining. This type of barking is common for dogs with separation anxiety as your pup is trying to calm himself down.
Your dog might bark because he is excited
This type of barking is especially common in puppies and young dogs. Many dogs will bark while playing with people or other dogs. Even the sound of the bark tends to sound upbeat and lyrical. Some dogs will bark excitedly when they know they are about to go for a walk or car ride.
Your dog might bark because he is bored
The bark of a bored dog sounds like a dog that barks just to hear his or her own voice. Though it tends to be annoying, it is also kind of sad. Bored dogs often bark to release excess energy, and sometimes bark out of loneliness. They usually need an activity and perhaps even a companion. And it usually is a series of barking.
Your dog is barking in response to other dogs
You know the scenario. If one dog down the street starts barking, and one by one the rest of your block joins in. Or at least your dog. And, this can also be heard if a firetruck or siren is driving by and one dog whines and all the others jump on the ‘whine’ wagon.
How to stop the excessive barking
Once you determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking, you can begin to control the behavior. The best way to prevent excessive barking in the first place is to try and remove any potential sources that cause the barking.
First and foremost, when your dog is barking, say “quiet” in a calm, firm voice. Wait until your dog stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise your dog and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking. Eventually your dog will figure out that if he stops barking at the word “quiet” he gets a treat (and make it a high level treat, such as cheese or chicken bits to make it worth more than the barking.)
Try to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise so there is not as much pent-up energy to burn by barking.
Avoid leaving a lonely dog alone for long periods of time if possible.
Never comfort, pet, hug or feed your dog when she is barking for attention or out of anxiety – that would be rewarding the behavior, thus encouraging it.
Conversely, shouting at your dog to stop barking does not help. It may actually cause her to bark even more. Punishment is never effective.
Don’t let your dog bark constantly outside, regardless of the reason. Bring your dog inside if this is the case and hopefully this will end the barking. Make sure your dog does get out at some point during the day.
For indoor dogs, make sure your dog has something to keep him occupied during the day. Try leaving out a couple of food-dispensing toys, which come in different shapes and sizes. These can keep him busy for several hours, then he’ll probably take a nap. Or a great chew toy.
If your dog goes into a barking frenzy every time you come home or the doorbell rings, you’ll need to teach him other behaviors. One way is to train your dog to go to a spot and stay there when the door opens. It’s best if your dog can see the door, but not be too close to it. Pick a spot and practice getting your dog to go there and stay, but don’t touch the door yet. Use lots of treats and praise, making it a game.
If after trying the above, your dog continues to bark, you should first take your dog to the veterinarian to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical issue. If your dog is OK, then consider hiring a dog trainer to help stop the barking.