Barking is a normal form of communication among dogs, but it can become destructive if it happens continuously and at inappropriate times. While you can’t completely stop your dog from barking, you can reduce it to a manageable level.
Benchmark Kennels has put together a guide on the possible causes of excessive dog barking, how to mitigate the problem and teach the pup to be quiet when necessary.
Why is your dog barking?
To successfully treat your dog’s problem barking, you’ll first need to track when and where it usually occurs to identify potential triggers. There are many reasons your dog may be barking, as it can signify various emotions or actions.
Your dog may bark out of frustration if they’re alone for too long. You shouldn’t leave adult dogs on their own for more than four hours and puppies alone for longer than 30 to 60 minutes.
To mitigate your dog’s loneliness, arrange for a dog sitter or walker to keep them company if you aren’t home all day. Alternatively, book them in at a doggy daycare or training session.
Fitting a pet camera also lets you keep an eye on your dog and speak to them to help you stay connected even when you aren’t home.
Barking can also be a sign of boredom, which you can solve by taking the dog for walks and spending time outdoors with them more often. To keep the pup entertained while alone, equip them with mentally stimulating puzzles and toys.
Dogs often bark to get their owner’s attention, which may be due to boredom, separation anxiety or fear. However, a desire for attention is often just part of being a social animal and is more prominent in some breeds.
To discourage your dog from barking for attention, first identify why they’re exhibiting this behaviour and follow the advice from the relevant category.
Also, ignore the pup until they become calm and quiet. Even negative attention, such as telling the dog to stop barking will entertain this behaviour.
Dogs often bark as a way to demand items such as food and toys. If it's worked before, they'll keep doing it. So, instead, ignore them until the barking has stopped, and then reward them with the item once they're calm.
Although, try not to confuse demand barking for them telling you they need the toilet.
If your dog reacts excitedly to you coming home by barking and jumping, don't respond until they calm down to avoid encouraging this behaviour.
Dogs often bark to let you know something is there, whether that be a person, another animal, or noise, which may be out of fear, excitement, or protectiveness. If the alert barking occurs continuously, it can be annoying for you and your neighbours.
For a temporary fix, block their view by closing the blinds or curtains, drown out the outside noise with the radio, and move the furniture so they can't reach the window.
However, to treat this problem long-term, engage in active training that encourages the pup to associate these sights and sounds positively.
For example, when someone walks by the house, use a command to distract the dog before they bark and give them a treat. Eventually, this training will help them develop a habit of looking at you as an alert instead of barking.
If your dog barks when they encounter a person or another dog, they may be scared or anxious, often due to poor socialisation.
To change their emotional response to social situations, practice greetings with a friend or trainer and another dog as followed:
- If your dog isn't already barking and pulling on the leash, approach the owner and dog.
- If your dog begins barking, stop and redirect their attention to you with the command' quiet', a treat, or by calling their name.
- If they are calm again, continue the approach.
- If your dog is still over-excited, turn and walk away and continue trying to calm them down.
To minimise the dog's barking when a guest approaches your home, train them to positively associate the doorbell by practising with a friend and giving the dog a treat when the noise occurs.
It can also be helpful to provide the pup with a dedicated space, such as a crate or an outdoor kennel, that they can retreat to if they become overwhelmed by guests. To encourage the pup to use the area, make it enticing and comfortable with blankets, toys, food, water, and a bed.
What not to do
When trying to combat excessive barking, it's crucial to avoid specific responses and methods that can worsen the problem.
It's important not to shout at your dog when they bark, as they'll think you're shouting back, which will cause them to carry on. The dog also won't understand why you're shouting, causing them anxiety.
If your dog likes being outside, don't keep them in the garden for too long if they're continuously barking, as this will only anger your neighbours.
Never use a shock collar on your dog to try and control their behaviour, as this is extremely cruel.
When you begin training, don't expect a sudden improvement as it can take a while to undo this behaviour, with the timescale depending on your dog's personality, breed, and age and the problem's cause and severity.
While it often helps to ignore your barking dog until they become calm, don't ignore the problem and treat it as soon as possible. When left unaddressed, barking can lead to aggressive behaviour.
If you need assistance with reducing your dog's barking, contact a professional behaviourist. Excessive barking can sometimes be a symptom of a medical problem, so also get your dog checked by a veterinarian.
Need an outdoor kennel to ease your dog's stress and anxiety?
Outdoor kennels are the perfect place for your dog to seek some peace and quiet when you're entertaining guests. Benchmark Kennels offer a range of secure, insulated, and spacious kennels that you can customise to your dog's size and shape.