Barking is just one of a dog’s many ways of communicating, with not only us doggy parents but also other animals. There are many reasons why dogs bark and sometimes it can be difficult for us humans to figure that out and to determine what exactly your dog is trying to say. Barking is a completely natural behavior for the canines in our lives. That doesn’t necessarily mean there is something seriously wrong, but as owners we must learn to understand and act accordingly. Dogs speak to us and we should listen.
Excessive barking can be worrying, stressful and sometimes downright exhausting. It is not uncommon to hear owners say ‘my dog barks at everything’. For some, this is a daily reality. It can be stressful for owners to hear their dogs bark for long periods of time. Loud dog barking can be particularly frustrating for your neighbours, which quite often causes social conflict.
The most common reasons that cause dog barking are:
- Illness and pain
- Separation Anxiety
- Attention seeking
Let’s take a look in some more detail about this unwanted behaviour and what you can do to try and fix the ‘barking dogs’ situation.
A Visit to the Vets
One of the very first points of call for all owners with dogs that regularly bark, is to pay a visit to the vet for peace of mind. It’s very easy to categorize barking as a bad habit or bad behaviour, when it is quite possible there could be something completely different triggering this behaviour, such as health issues. Regular visits to your vet is vital for your dog to be happy and healthy. The exerts are skilled at picking up on the smallest things that may be making your dog unhappy. They are always happy to conduct a full health check if you feel something might not be quite right.
If you have a think about some of the illnesses that could make you unhappy in yourself such as the flu, backache, joint pain, stomach pain, etc.… and then have a think about all the times you’ve had a moan about this to your friends and family. Probably quite a few times right? Dog barking, may be a way of him or her telling you that they are hurting to some degree or feeling uncomfortable, the only way they know how to. Seeking professional advice is always an excellent start when trying to figure out how to stop dogs barking.
Assuming your dog is completely healthy, and ruling out any pain issues, the next step is for you to delve a little bit deeper into the issue and ask yourself some questions:
- Does my dog bark at something in particular?
- Is there a trigger?
- Does my dog bark at certain times of the day? i.e only at night
- Is my dog barking at me directly or something else? i.e another dog or animal
- Does my dog bark only when out for walks or whilst at home too?
Identifying what triggers this behaviour and when it occurs is a major step in knowing how to fix the issue. Sometimes we don’t think about the ‘why’ or ‘when’ we just look at the here and now (the bigger picture), for example we might say ‘hmmm the dogs barking again, how annoying’ or ‘I wish my dog would stop barking’. These reactions don’t help you learn how to stop dogs barking, they just make the situation worse in your own head.
Some of the most common identifiers:
- The doorbell ringing i.e the postie – territorial, fear
- At night time – boredom, anxiety
- New visitors coming into the house – territorial, fear
- When your dog is alone and you are at work – anxiety, fear, boredom
- Walk time – excitement
- Attention seeking – boredom
- Other dogs in the park – territorial, fear, excitement
Without going through the identifying phase, you will never be able to understand the reason for dogs barking, which in turn will not make finding the solution easy.
Time and time again we hear how important good training for your dog is and we can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. Having a dog that is well trained and responsive to you can eliminate a multitude of bad behaviors that some dog owners only dream about. Training can be a challenge for some dog/owner combinations and takes time, patience, perseverance, and some damn good training treats! One of the key factors of how to stop a dog from barking is through command training. Dogs are such intelligent beings and can learn basic commands very quickly for the most part through vocals and human hand gestures. Some common dog commands consist of:
- The ‘Stay’ command
- The ‘Sit’ command
- The ‘Down’ command
- The ‘Heel’ command
- The ‘Leave It’ command
And you guessed it the ‘Stop’ command!
The ‘Stop’ command might be the only solution you need to get to the bottom of how to stop a dog barking. Training your dog to stop on demand can be very easy to train with the right method. A praise and reward technique is important. This technique can be particularly useful for those trying to figure out how to stop a dog barking at night. This method is quick and easy. You won’t need to leave your cozy bed to implement the command.
Turning your back
Attention seeking is a real thing for dogs. They love nothing more than to be doted on and fussed over all day, every day. This just isn’t practical for most households. We’re absolutely not suggesting that you shouldn’t treat your pooch like royalty, but some dogs take this a bit too far. When they don’t get what they want, they act up, in a way that most 5 year olds would be envious of.
Attention seeking is a bad habit in dogs and an undesirable behaviour that we, as owners should not buy into. Attention seeking is a common reason for dogs barking. They feel if they bark enough, they will get the attention they need, whether that be going out for a walk, being stroked, being fed or something else that floats their boat. If we give in to this behaviour, we are ultimately saying that barking is ok and the cycle continues. If we ignore barking dogs, then we are impressing on them that the behaviour is not acceptable and by doing this, they will not be getting what they want. Here are some simple guidelines to follow if you think your dog is barking for attention:
- Disconnect all eye contact every time your dog barks
- Don’t vocalise with your dog in any way, shape or form whilst they are making a racket
- Refrain from walking over to your dog and interacting i.e stroking, playing etc… honestly, go read a good doggy book instead!
- If your dog jumps up at you, turn your back.
- Always be consistent with these actions when your dog is in attention seeking, barking mode
- Encourage family and friends to do the same when they are around your dog
- Reward your dog with training treats if they have clearly been responsive to the steps above and have stopped barking
Dogs are not silly and will learn rather quickly that, if they keep it schtum, the rewards will follow.
Separation Related Behaviour (otherwise known as SRB) is a sad affair. We can’t help but feel a tad emotional about barking dogs that are feeling anxious due to separation from their trusty owner. Most dogs absolutely adore their owner to pieces. They are probably the only living being on the planet that loves you more than they love themselves. They hate it when you go to work all day, they hate it when you have to go shopping without them and they most certainly feel a bit miffed that you have to spend so long having a bath, as they just don’t like being alone. Some dogs suffer with SRB much more than others and some symptoms of the condition consist of:
- Destructive behaviour, such as chewing and destroying furniture
- Toileting in the house when you are not there
- Repetitive behaviour, such as pacing up and down
- Self-mutilation, such as excessive grooming
- And you guessed it……Barking and howling until your neighbours just can’t take any more!
Your dog will never be completely happy being left on their own, but there are some ways in which you can try to help your dog get through these difficult times without you and could be the solution for how to stop dogs barking:
- Encourage relaxation – a nice comfy dog bed or blanket works absolute wonders and helps keeps your dog relaxed and feeling safe
- Toys – Leave them a special toy to play with that is not only entertaining but comforting for them
- Reduce disturbances – closing curtains from outside distraction, giving them direct access to a quiet room in the house and leaving on some soft background music
- Companions – having an additional pet in the house, whether that be another doggy friend or even a feline companion can be a fantastic comfort for a barking dog that suffers from SRB
- Dog sitters – this can be an ideal solution. Your dog will have companionship and not feel alone and you also have peace of mind knowing your dog is happy and healthy whilst you are away from home
So if you have ever wondered how to stop dogs from barking that suffer from SRB, you have comfort in knowing there are solutions out there which are a pretty simple fix.
Some dogs just have too much pent up energy in them, and where you may be shattered after a whole day at work and a couple of doggy walks, your dog has more energy than Usain Bolt and the Energizer Bunny put together! This can be a bad combination and a very valid reason for dogs barking. They just want to let all that energy out, but don’t know how. They are trying to communicate this with you through barking, but for us humans, this isn’t always easy to understand. You’ve already taken your dog on 2 long walks today, what more do they need?
For anyone with a barking dog, that has too much energy, there are some simple steps you can take to try and eliminate this unwanted behaviour:
- Make sure you are taking your dog out twice a day for some long, active walks. Take them to enclosed, dog friendly parks, where you can let them off the leash for a bit and run loose for short period
- If you have a garden or backyard, installing a doggy door can be a great solution to allowing your dog free access to exercise and that way they can get as little or as much as they desire
- Introduce lots of fun toys and activities for your canine friend to play with. Dog chews are great boredom busters and can keep your dog entertained for hours if you choose the right ones. Puzzle toys are also a fantastic choice of occupier for barking dogs, that keeps them using their brain and staying active.
For those very active, energetic canines these ideas are such a simple solution for how to stop a dog barking and could be just what your dog is looking for to release all that pent up, extra energy.
Training collars can be a great way to stop dogs from barking and prevent unwanted behaviors. There are many types available on the market today, but you may want to look very closely at what you are actually buying. Most dog training collars are safe and humane, but there are certain types you should avoid. Shock collars are particularly cruel and damage the relationship between dog and owner. These are the types of collars you should look out for to help stop your dog from barking:
- Tone or Sonic Collars – these are usually wirelessly connected to a battery operated external device. They emit a high frequency sound, that is undetected by the human ear, but will distract your dog instantly when they start barking. It’s also quite annoying for them, so this is a relatively easy way to stop dogs barking
- Vibration Collars – These should do as they say and ‘vibrate’. There is a big difference between a vibration and a shock. Be completely aware of the differences when purchasing one of these. The collar usually consists of a couple of vibration prongs that are in contact with your dog’s neck. The vibration is usually enough to get your dog’s attention instantly. They will eventually associate the two (barking = annoying vibration that I don’t like much)
- Scent Collars – these collars work in the same way, by distracting your dog, but without sound and vibration. Two prongs are usually attached to the collar which has close contact with your dog’s neck. When your dog starts barking, the prongs vibrate and this releases a spray into the air of citronella which is effectively an essential oil. This typically distracts a dog, which in turn stops them from barking.
There are some great training collars on the market right now. If you are a dog owner that is trying to abolish this behaviour then this could be the answer to how to stop dogs barking.
- If you are worried about your dog’s barking behavior, always visit your vet first and foremost to rule out any underlying health issues or injuries. They will always be happy to help.
- Take your time investigating why your dogs barking. If you haven’t discovered the trigger, then you will be driving blind looking for the solution.
- If you know your neighbors are getting extremely fed up with your dogs barking, talk to them. Make them aware you are trying to rectify the problem. You may feel like you want to just hide under a rock and avoid them, but speaking to them and discussing the problems you are having, along with the steps you are taking, may make them much more understanding of the situation.
- Lastly, never give up. This is not a time when you need to reconsider and give your dog up for adoption. Your dog has never once given up on you, so do them the courtesy and reciprocate. The hard work will all pay off I can assure you.