Finding the Cause
It is possible for a Dog to get into a repetitive pattern of barking behaviour leading them to bark and bark because this is what they have learned to do, but in the vast majority of cases Dogs bark for a specific reason. In short when a Dog barks they are communicating something. The key to stopping excessive barking is to finding out why it is happening. It is also important to mention that you should never seek to stop a Dog from barking completely. Barking is a healthy means of communication as long as it is not excessive.
The Top Reasons That Dogs Bark
Alerting – This bark is about alerting you or other Dogs of a potential threat with the Dog’s territory. This barking will either be continuous and rapid with a mid-range pitch if the Dog knows there is a threat or rapid in short bursts with a mid-range pitch if the Dog just suspects there is a threat
Loneliness– This bark is a Dogs way of checking if there is anyone out there because they are lonely. This barking will go on over a long time, but there will be pauses while the Dog checks for a response to their call. It may also be accompanied by whimpering and howling
Anxiety – It is thought that Dogs who are anxious may bark to soothe themselves. This type of barking will be higher in pitch and will often be accompanied by whimpering and howling
Boredom – This type of barking just goes on and on. The theory is that Dogs bark when bored to drain excess energy and simply in order to have something to do. This type of barking is often the one that humans find the most annoying
Excitement – This is the one that Dog owners have no problem recognising. It is often accompanied by lots of movement and it sounds happy and playful. It will often literally sound like “ruff”
Warning – If a Dog feels threatened they may resort to growling and barking to issue a warning to the perceived threat. This type of barking will most often start off at a low pitch and increase in both pitch and frequency if the threat continues
Pain or Fear – If a Dog is suffering their barking will often be high pitched like a yelp or scream
Treating the Cause
Once you have figured out why your Dog is barking you can treat the cause rather than the barking, which is just a symptom.
If your Dog is barking due to loneliness, anxiety or boredom there is plenty you can do to resolve this. As ever it comes down to common sense. Make sure your Dog gets plenty of exercise and opportunity to socialise with as many different people and Dogs as possible. Give your Dog activities to do that keep them busy. You can try Kong toys and Nina Ottosson toys too. Make sure your Dog isn’t left alone for long periods. You can employ the services of Dog walkers or Dog Day Care Centres to break the day up for your Dog.
If your Dog is barking in order to alert, you can teach them a command to bark and then a different command to stop. Use positive reinforcement techniques (Plenty of praise and reward). Keep the training sessions short and remember it will take a few months. Once the Dog gives you a reliable response you can use the stop command whenever you feel the barking is excessive
If your Dog is barking as a warning remove the perceived threat
If your Dog is barking in pain or fear it is vital to understand what they are scared of and seek medical attention immediately if necessary. If the barking is a fear reaction, use positive reinforcement techniques to create a positive association with the person, item or Dog that is the focus of the fear reaction
As ever if you need support to resolve this issue, speak to the team at Wags Doggy Day Care and School of Excellence, we will be happy to help!