It has been a long day at work and after doing chores, making dinner and changing into your fave pair of pajamas, your bottom finally makes its debut with the lounge room couch. Sitting down to watch the latest flick you almost nod off but…wait… There it goes again… The dog with its insatiable barking. Whether it’s after work, in the middle of the night or whilst you’re trying to catch a few more z’s as you hit snooze on your alarm, we all know ‘that dog’.
The whole neighborhood knows the dog. At least in spirit… By noise… By LOUD noise.
If that noise is coming from your dog then keep reading!
But why do dogs bark so much?
Well, first and foremost, barking is a normal behavior for dogs as it’s a method of communication. It could be that your canine friends may be trying to tell you something, or the conversation might not extend to you but rather the neighborhood dogs. You may often spy your beloved dog barking purely at the sky. Are we missing something?
Anyway, small insignificant noises of life just flying by may cause an eruption, so be careful.
Dog behaviour can often be identified by underlying issues or triggers that set them off. Many of these have various solutions, although some dogs may need further behavioural assistance.
Boredom is a common reason for excessive barking and can result from a lack of exercise or enrichment. Take your dog out for a good walk in the morning and/or at night or take them for play dates with their dog friends if they like other dogs. If you’re out all day then leave them with plenty of toys or puzzles to play with. Toys such as Kongs can keep them busy and stimulated as they have to work to win their prize, plus they get a treat while they’re at it. Training is also a great tool to reinforcing positive behavior and teaching your dog new tricks – which they’ll love! If these tools aren’t enough to break the bark then consider hiring a dog walker or minder. Your pet will love the extra exercise or just someone to play fetch and spend time with.
Being alone doesn’t just result in boredom, it can cause anxiety as well. New pets in particular may have a hard time adjusting to owner absence when settling into a new home or when they’re at a young age. You can solve this by starting off with small periods of separation at a time while you are home. Ensure there are lots of toys and enrichment options so they remain positive and engaged. Gradually extend the periods of time your dog is alone and they should adapt until they’re comfortable. Most of the time, dogs will understand that their owner will return to them, however, in some cases, dogs can bark excessively as a result of stress and separation anxiety. This issue can be resolved by consulting a veterinarian and discussing further treatment: No one likes their woofer to be worried!
A worried woofer can result in barking out of fear. Dog temperaments are all different and many can be frightened of a breach of their territory, or simply from noises. It is quite common for dogs to become distressed or threatened from fireworks, thunderstorms or unknown animals and people.
This is where territorial barking can come in. We’ve all heard of the ‘guard dog’ breeds but really, any dog may feel the need to alarm bark at potential threats. Some just might be a little more vocal than others! If your dog barks at the postman, your neighbours or friends, try forging a new attitude through food! Let’s face it, a treat works wonders in many situations. Reward your dog when they see these distractions or threats by offering a treat when he or she remains calm and quiet. They will begin to associate the experience as positive. Whatever you do, don’t yell at your dog when they’re barking up a storm. They associate this as communication, even if it comes in the form of a scolding. Positive behaviour with reinforcement will see you in better stead.
Finally, we have attention-seeking dogs. Attention-seeking barking can be curbed by ignoring poor behaviour, including no eye contact. Calmly reward quiet behaviour with gentle praise or by tossing a treat and they’ll soon realize the best way to attention is a calm and collected doggo!
One more thing. Do not punish your dog or resort to force-training, electric-shock collars, scent or sound devices designed for punishment. Instead, offer your best bud some love, patience and positive reinforcement. We assure you, it’s better than being barking mad. You can also check out some of our recommended trainers here!