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7 Common Reasons Dogs Bark & What to Do About It

WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! Seemingly for no reason your dog just starts barking their head off. It can make you crazy. Especially when the neighborhood canine chorus joins in.

Sometimes it seems like there's an endless number of dogs that just won’t stop barking. Maybe your dog is one of them. Living with a barky dog is incredibly frustrating for you & your neighbors.

I used to live next to a barky dog whose owner claimed she had “tried everything” which, upon further inquiry, turned out to be a citronella bark collar followed by throwing her hands in the air when the spray collar didn’t fix the problem.

For the record, citronella spray collars are aversive and very likely made the poor dog even more stressed out and barky.

Also download my free e-book 8 Game-Changing Tips to Stop Nuisance Barking for Good!  for more types of barking and how to stop Nuisance Barking.

If you have a barky dog, you don’t have to use an aversive method, give up and live with it or, worse, rehome your dog. This is a fixable problem. Dogs bark; it’s an important method of communication for them. However, your dog doesn’t need to bark incessantly and you can train your dog to be quiet on cue.

For dogs, barking is a form of communication. It's a natural activity for a healthy dog. You can’t and shouldn’t try to completely eliminate your dog’s barking. What you can do help them relax and be less barky overall and teach them alternatives ways to communicate. You can even teach your dog to be quiet upon request!

Limit necessary barking (like alert barking) and stop unnecessary barking (like demand barking). The first step is to understand the underlying reasons your dog barks because different causes of barking require different solutions.

Here are 7 Common Reasons Why Your Dog Barks and What to Do About It

Also download my free e-book 8 Game-Changing Tips to Stop Nuisance Barking for Good! for more types of barking and how to stop Nuisance Barking.

Boredom – Your dog likely spends a lot of time on their own. If you don’t provide enough activity, your dog will invent their own fun which includes barking. Eliminate boredom barking by providing more enrichment and/or exercise for your pup.

Anxiety – Separation distress and anxiety can also cause barking. In this instance, you’ll want to teach your dog to be OK with being alone rather than address the barking directly. This can take some time but is important for your dog’s well being and your peace of mind at being able to leave your dog on their own. Read this article for more help with anxiety barking.

Warning – Dogs bark to alert you to potential or perceived threats. Dogs define “threat” differently than you so your postal carrier may provoke the same warning as an actual intruder. I’m glad my dog Jake, barks to alert me to potential danger. As a woman living alone it makes me feel safe. When Jake barks at something that isn’t actually dangerous - like a dog walking past our house - I’ve taught him to stop after I thank him for warning me and tell him everything is fine. It’s worth hearing a bit of unnecessary barking to also get the loud barking at midnight when an intruder is trying to break in (this actually happened and Jake scared away the would-be intruder).

Demand (also called Attention Seeking) – Like children, dogs can be persistent when they want attention. Demand barking is akin to a child’s relentless “mom, mom, mom, mom” while you’re on the phone. Your dog may want a treat, belly rub, walk or just to have your attention on them. I don’t recommend giving in to demand barking because y that reinforces it. If barking works to get your attention, your dog will keep on barking whenever they wants something. Ignoring demand barking or teaching your dog the “quiet” cue will make you both a lot happier in the long run.

Startled – Some dogs bark when startled which is a type of protection barking. For example, if a loud noise wakes your dog suddenly, they may bark until they realize there's no danger. This typically doesn’t last long and I usually recommend just letting it happen. You can reassure your dog that all is well to calm them faster. Note: some dogs may bite when started awake so never let small children play near a sleeping dog.

Playfulness – Barking is a normal part of play and I would normally just let it happen unless it causes problems such as stressing out other dogs. Some dogs bark at other dogs for attention just like they do with humans. Intervene if your dog does as it isn’t an appropriate form of play and can lead to dog fights.

Plea (asking for help) – Some dogs bark to get help. Perhaps a favorite toy has gone under the couch. Jake barks when he can’t reach something he wants. This is different from demand barking because your dog is asking for help, not just attention or an on-demand treat. I help Jake when he plea barks because it only happens occasionally. Plea barking can turn into demand barking so watch for that but, otherwise, help your dog if they ask for help.

Ultimately, some barking is necessary to the well-being of your dog and some is just a big nuisance. Excessive barking or barking intended to control (demand barking) can be effectively dealt with through training. The amount of acceptable barking is up to you.

Never yell at your barking dog as it will likely make the barking worse! Training should be fun for your dog (and you!) Be consistent and reward behavior you want to see continue. Barking can be tricky to stop so be patient! For more types of barking & ways ways to stop nuisance barking, download my free ebook 8 Game-Changing Tips to Stop Nuisance Barking for Good!


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