Dogs use several means of communication when trying to get attention, from pawing at your arm to dropping a soggy tennis ball in your lap. The most recognizable of these, and often the most annoying, is barking. While most people are accepting of a typical dog bark now and then, problems occur when the barking becomes excessive. If you have a dog that barks consistently for seemingly no reason, you can bet that your neighbors will soon let you know about it.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Dogs bark as a means of expressing themselves. The reason for their barking will depend on the situation, and that will also affect the pitch and frequency of the bark. Whilst it often appears that your dog may be barking at nothing, it’s important to keep in mind that dogs have a much sharper sense of smell, sight and hearing than we do, so there is very likely to be a reason for their noisemaking.
If we were to make a list of reasons why dogs bark, the following be the most common:
- Boredom – bored or lonely dogs will often bark to express their discontent at being left alone or having nothing to do.
- Separation anxiety – barking is just one of a myriad of signs of this condition. Dogs will regularly bark when they are distressed at being alone, as well as soil inside and destroy your furnishings.
- Alarm – dogs will bark when something startles them.
- Protection – dogs are naturally territorial and will ward off strays or strangers by barking, along with other defensive traits. Most dog owners don’t mind their dog barking to protect their home and valuables!
- Excitement – a happy bark is often expressed when greeting a familiar face or enjoying a favorite game.
Some breeds are prone to more regular barking than others. For instance, Terriers will bark more frequently than Greyhounds. That said, any breed can be excessively noisy given the right circumstances.
How Do You Treat Excessive Barking?
The most obvious way to deal with a noisy dog is to work out the cause and manage it appropriately. It’s not always easy to identify the cause, but there are some general things you can do that should help. Give your bored dog more attention and exercise. Treat separation anxiety before it becomes a bigger problem. Food dispensing toys are a good option for a dog that is looking for something to do. You could also consider doggie day care or a dog walker if your budget permits. If your dog is barking at passers-by, then you may need to block his view with a fence.
Whatever you do, don’t yell at your dog. He will see this as you joining in with the racket, and it is likely to encourage him to bark even more.
When looking for ways to quieting your pup, you may need to seek advice from your veterinarian or a reputable dog trainer. The underlying cause needs investigation and appropriate treatment to make sure that your dog is happy and doesn’t bark without good reason.