Why do dogs bark?

One of the most frequent reasons dogs are taken to an animal shelter is because of their barking. Owners and/or neighbours cannot tolerate the noise of a barking dog.

When considering dog ownership, it is very important to check on the characteristics of the breed that you are considering, as some breeds are natural born barkers. If possible talk to people that have the same breed and get their input, also research the breed online. Even if you are considering a mixed-breed dog look into the breeds that comprise the makeup of the dog.

Excessive barking could mean the end to what would have been a beautiful relationship between you and your dog.

Why do dogs bark?

Well, truthfully for a dog it is fun, it is also a form of communication. A dog bark can be a warning, it can be a welcome, or it can be a constantly annoying noise.

In case you did not know it, dogs have many varieties of bark, from a soft woof to a very loud growling type of bark. Each bark means something to the dog. A bark can signify territorial protection, a show of dominance, or an expression of a specific need. If you can develop a good barking ear you will be able to understand the differences.

Why do some dogs bark so much?

Believe it or not, some of it can be traced to our own behaviour toward our dog, or it can be a natural genetic trait. In many ways we condition them to bark.

Think of this, a barking dog gets attention and that is what most dogs want. The fact that we might be reprimanding our dog, matters not, as long as the dog is getting what it wants, attention.

Sometimes dogs bark because they are uncomfortable about something. Your dog might be hot, cold, hungry, thirsty, or has the need to go outside to pee or poop. If he/she does not bark, how will you know?

Make certain your dog has shelter from the heat and /or rain if it is outside, along with plenty of water.

Do not tie up a dog and expect it to be quiet all day. A tied up dog can get hung up on so many things and possibly hurt itself, besides being in one place all day is BORING. A dog needs physical and mental exercise and stimulation.

Outside a dog will have many reasons to bark, for example other dogs barking, noise from trucks and cars, people walking by, boredom and loneliness.

To relieve the stress and anxiety your dog is feeling, exercise and play with your dog on a daily basis. A tired dog will bark less.

Some dogs feel very needy and will bark constantly in order to get your attention.

To remedy a needy barking dog, it will take a great deal of patience on your part.

Why?

Simply because you are going to have to ignore your dog and it’s barking, which is easier said than done.

A needy dog is looking for any kind of attention, and that is why you must not speak to your dog, look at the dog, or go near it while it is barking.

Yelling loudly or for that matter screaming at your dog to be quiet will not help at all. The yelling once again is giving the dog the attention it wants, plus it will think you are playing a game with it.

Hitting, spanking or beating your dog will not have a good result either. You will create fear in your dog and when it sees you, it will stop, but turn your back and it will be back at it again.

Once your dog stops barking, praise, pets and treats are in order.

This will not be a quick fix, but in order for it to work you must be consistent and ignore your dog, even though you might be tempted to tape his/her mouth shut.

Reconditioning the behaviour pattern can also be done by having your dog do something different when it starts barking, like going to find a toy and getting a treat when he/she finds it. Giving your dog a job that takes its mind off of barking is the thought behind this idea.

Once you start the training process it is very important you do not deviate from it for any reason until your dog has the no barking thought firmly implanted in its mind.

Granted there are times when you do want your dog to bark, so choose the barking behaviour that is bugging you or your neighbours the most and work solely on that.

If your dog is left on its own for any great length of time and your dog is constantly barking while you are away, there are several reasons for this and each one is handled differently.

Separation anxiety will cause a dog to bark constantly. Many times you, the owner, are the cause of it. If you find yourself worrying about leaving your dog while you are getting ready and you find yourself going through all that wonderful baby dog talk we have been known to go through. STOP IT!

What you are doing is creating nervous anxiety and upsetting your dog.

Instead, do not look, talk or pet your dog while you are getting ready to leave. Ignore your pet completely; don't even think about him/her during the process of getting ready. Concentrate on work or whatever you are going to do.

Just before you are ready to walk out the door, get your pet's favourite toy and several treats, put them in a room away from the door and at most say I’ll be back later and leave. Nine chances out of ten, your dog will accept the fact you are gone and will be quiet. Once they get use to this routine they will be allot less anxious.

Whether you believe it or not, pets pick up on our anxiety and respond to it.

If outside noises are the trigger for your pet's barking, try keeping him/her in a room that is not near the street. Play a radio with soft classical music or keep the TV on low while you are gone, keep the blinds closed do something to keep the dog away from windows. Use empty boxes on the chair or couch to keep your pet from getting on the furniture and looking out the window.

Now if you have a dog that for the most part is kept outside and it’s barking is annoying your neighbours. That is a little bit more tricky, as you are not home to take control of the situation.

There are ultrasonic outdoor electronic systems that operate either with an adapter or batteries, they emit a high pitched sound that can only be heard by your dog and it stops when your dog stops barking. They are available for large and small yards. I am told that they are quite reliable in stopping unnecessary barking.

For inside the house or apartment there is another gadget similar to the yard one, that even allows you to use your voice commands to talk to your dog.

I would advise looking into these items, only if all else fails and you are at your wit's end.

Solving the barking problem will take time and effort, along with patience and understanding. Try to determine why your dog is barking, if you can solve that problem, you are well on your way to the solution.

Exercise and socialization are such an important part of a dog's life. A dog is not supposed to sit and be quiet. Dogs are hunters and protectors; we are the ones that domesticated them.

Wild dogs live in packs, they have loads of fun with each other and they obey pack rules and follow a leader. We are the ones that changed that and as a result we have to do our part.

We are now the leaders, we are the alpha dog, and that does not mean beat the dog into submission, it means provide exercise, social stimulation, proper food, medical care and most of all love.