Excessive barking is annoying for owners and neighbors. Discover some ways to stop unwanted barking and make life peaceful again.
While a dog’s bark is a natural way for it to communicate, it is also partially a learned behaviour. For example if a dog elicits the response it wants from the barking then it has been rewarded. Dogs bark for many reasons, including:
- Separation anxiety
- Pain or discomfort
If the dog barks for attention and the owner yells at the dog, the dog has still received attention. Good or bad attention, the dog often doesn’t care which. If the dog barks because it wants to play and the owner throws the ball, the dog has received the desired response. It is being rewarded for its barking behaviour. Other problem barking behaviours are:
- Dog barking when left outside or alone for extended periods of time.
- Dog barking whenever people pass the property on the street. They may not need to enter the property at all for the barking to occur.
- Dog barking as soon as owners leave the house
- Dog barking continuously to get owner’s attention
- When owners or neighbors are losing sleep due to overnight barking.
Understanding the reason why a dog is barking excessively is the first step to solving the problem.
Using Exercise to Prevent Excessive Barking
Exercise can be useful for dogs that bark due to boredom, separation anxiety or loneliness. Extra exercise can mean walking or playing games in the backyard, such as fetch.
Some breeds of dog are more prone to boredom and need more exercise. These are usually working breeds such as kelpies and cattle dogs. These dogs are best suited to large properties and farms, so owners that live in the suburbs with these breeds will have their work cut out for them. Both the owner and dog would benefit from several walks per day.
Walking stimulates a dog’s mind as well as physically, so this is a particularly beneficial activity. Dogs that have had plenty of exercise usually behave better at home and will snooze or sun bake quietly.
Using Training to Prevent Excessive Barking
A well-trained dog is a delight to live with. If owners neglected to train their dog when it was young, then training may be more difficult. Some basic training techniques can be taught such as having to sit before being fed.
Daily training sessions will stimulate the dog and lessen boredom, loneliness and similar causes of problem behaviour. Food and treats are good motivators to get a dog to perform for the owner, as are praise and toys. Local dog training classes can also be beneficial for more advanced training and to allow socialization with other dogs.
Using Toys and Playing to Prevent Excessive Barking
All dogs enjoy playing with their owners and well-socialized dogs enjoy interacting with other dogs. For owners that wish to play with their dogs, balls, frisbees and other dog toys designed for throwing are ideal.
If a dog thinks its owner wants to play with a toy, suddenly that toy becomes very appealing. When owners are gone during the day, this can be a lonely and boring time so rotating toys is important to minimize boredom.
If owners cannot manage the barking problem or suspect that the behaviour may be due to pain or a medical condition, veterinary care should be sought.