Excessive Dog Barking
Barking is a dog’s method of communication. You should never expect your dog never to bark, any more than you would expect a child not to talk. However, when the barking becomes very loud or excessive, then it becomes a problem for yourself and perhaps even your neighbors.
If your dog is excessive in her vocalization, it is important to determine why she is barking in the first place. Then you can learn how to remove that stimulant and get a quieter dog in the process.
Why Dogs Bark Excessively
There are many reasons a dog could have that would cause excessive barking, such as:
- Barking as a response to territorial or protective instincts: If a person or animal happens to come into an area that your dog either considers to be her territory, or even her master’s territory, this will often spark excessive barking. The closer the intruder comes, the more intense the barking usually becomes.
- Barking as a means to seek attention: If your dog wants a treat, or wants to go outside, or maybe she just wants to play, excessive barking can occur. We sometimes are actually responsible for this behavior in this case, since we may have encouraged this response in earlier training.
- Barking as a result of either fear or startling her: Many times, when something happens that is unexpected or that startles your dog, she will react by barking. This can sometimes turn excessive.
- Barking as a result of loneliness or boredom: Dogs crave company. They want to be with their family all the time, and leaving them alone for long periods can result in many unwanted problems. Leaving them alone, whether it is in the house or in the yard, makes them very sad, and they will bark excessively to display that sadness.
- Barking as a result of Separation Anxiety: If your dog displays Separation Anxiety, there are probably many more bad behaviors being displayed than just excessive barking. She may also be destructive of things in the house, perhaps eliminating while you are gone, pacing the entire time you are gone, and many more bad behaviors. Separation anxiety is beyond the discussion of this page, and will be discussed separately on another page.
Whatever the reason, excessive dog barking can be very frustrating, especially if it occurs at night when you are trying to sleep. It can also destroy your relationship with the neighbors if they are close enough and the dog is loud enough.
How to Stop Excessive Dog Barking
First a few don’ts:
- Don’t shout! Your shouting usually only stimulates your dog to bark more! Obviously you are joining in! So no yelling, but a firm, calm voice instead.
- Don’t expect overnight success. Using the techniques below, you should see progress toward a quieter dog, but it will not be quick. It will take a lot of time, practice, and consistency.
- Don’t reward your dog for barking at you when you come home. Don’t pet her, don’t even look at her until she stops barking and sits. Then praise her for watching the house while you were away.
Here are just a few tips that can help you have a quieter household:
- Remember one key thing: A tired dog is a quiet dog! So make sure you are giving your dog plenty of activity every day - both physical and mental. Depending on the breed of your dog, this may involve several walks each day, as well as playing games that stimulate her mind. And don't let that stop just because you have gone to work! Consider either hiring a dog walker or a friend to come to the house and walk her or play with her for at least an hour while you are at work, and provide stimulating toys for when your dog is alone.
- If your dog is barking at sights and sounds outside the home, consider removing those sights and sounds. Close your front curtains, so she does not see what is going on outside. If your dog gets up on the couch and looks behind the curtains, try relocating the couch. Add some internal white noise to filter the outside sounds, such as running a fan or playing a radio. These are methods that do not rely on you being there to work, but if you are there, you can reinforce good behavior. If the dog alerts to a sudden sound, but immediately returns to lying down, make sure she knows that was good behavior. Reward her with treats or praise.
- If your dog starts barking when the front door is open, give her something else to do when that occurs, such as going to a certain spot and laying down. This is actually fairly easy, but takes some time to be consistently successful.
- Start by just getting your dog to lay at your chosen spot, which should be in sight of the door, but not too close. Provide her with lots of treats with each success, but leave the door alone for now.
- When your dog is laying on her spot reliably, start opening the door while she is laying on her spot. Reward her whenever she remains on that spot, even when the door opens.
- When she consistently remains in her spot when the door opens, it is time for someone to actually come in the door. Don’t fret if she immediately gets up an approaches the door, just keep it up, and eventually it will be second nature, and your dog will lie at her spot when the door opens and your guests enter.
- Teach her the “Quiet” command.
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How About Bark Collars?
At this time, Amazon.com has 564 different bark collars you can buy, ranging from those that spray out an annoying liquid when the dogs bark to those that instead provide an electric shock! I do not recommend any of these for solving your barking dog problem. Here are a few reasons why:
- Any appliance can fail. It can cause the collar to give off whichever deterrent continuously, creating great discomfort for your dog.
- These collars can go off on noises other than your dog barking, giving off the deterrent to a completely innocent wearer.
- Most importantly, it does not address the cause of the excessive barking. If you can determine the cause, you can solve the problem without resorting to punishing your dog.
So there you have it. You have found out some of the causes for excessive dog barking, as well as several solutions. Try at least one, maybe all, and you will go a long way to solving your particular problem. But remember, it will not be accomplished overnight. You have to be consistent and patient, but eventually you will enjoy a much quieter time at home with your dog.
This is your chance to add your feedback. Do you have any tips in breaking your dog of excessive barking? Or maybe you have more questions that either Dog Nation or another of our visitors might be able to help you with? Feel free to add your comment or question below.