To many pet owners, barking is part of a dog’s normal life. Well, this is only true to some extent, how to stop a dog from barking is another. A seasoned canine owner will easily tell the different types of barking and establish the cause. There are several possible reasons that could cause your dog to bark.
Some of these reasons are often part of its biological clock. However, there are certain types of barks that could portend serious danger to the dog’s owner. Even worse, a dog could be barking as a result of serious pain or a debilitating medical condition.
That is why it is paramount to study each message being vocalized by your dog through barking so you may respond appropriately. In this post, we shall uncover some of the most common reasons why dogs bark. Along with highlight a few tips you can adopt to help prevent your dog from excessive barking.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
1. Warning of Lurking Danger
Dogs have a very sharp sense of smell and hearing. Their sense of sight, though relatively poorer than humans’ in certain conditions, is also good enough for them to spot danger lurking in the dark or the woods. When they detect such danger, their first instinct is to respond through barking.
As the dog owner, it is important to immediately investigate the possible danger causing your canine friend to bark. It could range from something like other dogs to an intruder or even another type of animal or rodent.
2. Territorial Reasons
Nearly all animals are territorial, from the largest beasts like elephants to the tiniest insects like ants. Therefore, trust them to defend their territories at the slightest chance they can find. One of the ways dogs defend their territories is through barking.
Whenever they feel their territories are threatened by dogs or other pets, they will often bark to scare them away. And a dog’s territory includes his kennel, playground, his owner, the owner’s house and households, and sometimes even other pets. Basically, anything the dog is physically or sentimentally attached to.
3. Separation Anxiety
There are dogs that are too dependent on their owners. Such are the dogs that have been so spoiled with treats and attention that they cannot fathom a minute without their owner insight. Of course, you will not spend all your waking hours tending to your furry friend.
You will need to go out from time to time and you cannot bring him along. However, since the dog may have grown overly fond of and attached to you, separating from him could cause separation anxiety, making them bark uncontrollably.
4. If the Dog Wants to Play
Like cats, dogs are some of the most playful pets. They often have lots of unspent energies. These energies can only be released through playtime. However, dogs do not just love to play amongst themselves, they also often prefer their owners to get in on the act.
One of the ways your dog tells you it is playtime is through barking. As a matter of fact, dogs will bark as a way of seeking attention of any kind, and not necessarily when they want to play.
Such barks are always accompanied by a tail wagging, a clear indication that he is excited and not threatened. This is something you should always pay attention to. Is your dog’s tail wagging or not?
5. Phobic Reactions
Just like humans, dogs have their phobias. These phobias are normally sights and sounds they associate with either danger or an unpleasant past experience. For instance, if your dog was one time whipped by your neighbor and the neighbor happens to pay you a visit, expect the reception to be a bit hostile.
Dogs’ memories are fairly retentive, especially when it comes to remembering unpleasant experiences. Barks associated with phobias are normally made with the dog showing signs of retreat such as the tail hidden between his hind legs.
6. Predatory Behavior
Dogs are instinctively predators. Therefore, as soon as they spot any form of threat, their chase instincts immediately kick in.
When they are chasing after the threat, they often bark as well. In such cases, barking is meant to instill more fear on and subdue the threat they are after.
7. It Signifies Aggression
Some dogs, especially most guard dogs, are generally aggressive. Such are the dogs that have been trained to trust no one except his very close family.
A dog may also show aggressive behavior to other people or pets he simply does not want to come too close for comfort. In order to demonstrate their dislike, they will often bark.
8. Social Behavior
Last but not least, a dog may bark as a way of communicating with other dogs within the locality. And there are quite different messages they would normally vocalize through barking. It could be a call to mate, a call for reinforcement, or simply an excitement to meet other dogs.
Dogs have a reasonable sense of family and will always be anxious about meeting other dogs down the street or within their district.
Of course, this excitement almost always ends as soon as they realize the other dogs do not pose threats to their territories. But in some cases, such as where it involves dogs of the opposite sex, the meetings can come and go without any serious conflicts.
Ways on How To Stop A Dog From Barking
As we had already indicated, you need not be worried about your dog barking. However, there are ways you can help to stop your dog barking. Especially when the barks are persistent enough to pass as a nuisance or if you suspect there could be an underlying medical condition to it. The following are some tips you can follow to help stop a dog from barking.
1. Stay Calm
How you respond when your dog barks is very instrumental in helping the situation. It is undeniably true that most dog owners will yell at their dogs when they start barking. However, experts warn against doing so.
They argue that the message your dog gets when you yell or shout at him is that you are barking alongside him. Therefore, instead of stopping, the dog will feel encouraged to continue barking.
2. Watch Out for Triggers and Adapt The Right Remedy
As soon as your canine friend begins to bark, it is important to carefully and diligently watch out for any triggers. As we have already highlighted above, there are so many reasons as to why your dog barks.
It could be a loud sound that reminds them of a frightening situation or the sight of a neighbor that they find hostile. Your dogs could even bark when there is a close member of your household they do not necessarily trust. Therefore, it is important to seamlessly investigate the cause.
When you find it, try to take appropriate remedial action. For instance, if there is a close family member the dog does not trust, you could carefully try to get them acquainted with one another.
This way, the dog will cease seeing the person as a threat. If the dog barks at people when the two of you are out on a walk, you could pull him away using his leash. In cases where they are barking at people outside your house, how about you close the blinds and then tell them to stop?
3. Have a Reward System
Dogs are very obedient to their owners and will usually heed your call to have him stop barking. When he does, it is important to reward him. Positive reinforcements goes a long way.
In the future, when the dog is barking and you call on him to stop, he will remember the treat he received last time and immediately put an end to the behavior.
4. Have Enough Physical and Mental Exercise
Another way you can stop your dog from barking is to tire them out. When it comes to physical and mental exercise for your doggy, the list is endless. You could begin by playing fetch in your back yard.
Regular trips to the dog park might also help manage his unspent energies as well as kill boredom and alleviate the anxiety caused as a result of loneliness. If that does not help, you can consider more energy-intensive workouts like running in the neighborhood. To make the most of it, schedule a workout routine for your dog.
Make sure your dog has an adequate amount of physical and mental exercise before you leave in the morning. A tired dog is more likely to rest when you’re not at home. If possible, have a dog walker come to walk your dog mid-day.
Read the original article – American Kennel Club
5. Teach Your Dog The Quiet Command
This calls for a bit of patience. First, you will need to wait until your dog has started barking. Which should not belong if you are having a barking problem.
As they bark, you encourage them by saying “speak’’ and when they stop barking, you firmly say the word “quiet’’. Repeat this several times till you are sure the dog correlates “quiet’’ with a call to have him stop barking. To make it work, ensure you reward him each time.
6. Ignore The Dog
There are some dogs that could bark simply because they want attention. Others might be calling on you to play though you may not really feel like it. These kinds of barks are associated with puppies.
A perfect solution here is to turn a blind ear to the dog. With time, the dog will realize that he does not always get your attention when he needs it and might stop barking altogether.
7. Distract The Dog
This tip may not offer long-term solutions to barking, but it may still be effective in certain situations. One way you can distract your dog is to offer him a toy or a puzzle. This way, you draw his focus and attention from the person or thing causing him to bark and to the new point of attraction.
Another way you could distract the dog is to turn on a white noise machine that deadens the sound triggering a bark. For example, if the dog barks as a result of listening to the pounding sound caused by someone felling a tree, you could take him inside the house, draw the blinds and turn on the radio.
8. Look For Professional Help
When every tip you try does not yield success, chances are your dog could be suffering from an underlying medical condition. This is why you should visit a vet and have the dog examined further. Conditions like chronic pain or anxiety disorders will likely cause your dog to bark.
These are not conditions you can address through average dog care techniques. A visit to the vet will not only help get rid of these conditions but also their side effects such as barking.
Well, that is our guide on the most common causes of barking in dogs and how to go about them to stop. It is important to understand your dog and try to establish the reasons for his barking as soon as you can.
But as a general rule, always have your vet’s number on speed dial. Just in case, the situation gets out of hand.