We love our dogs and understand that barking is a completely normal thing for them to do.They use their little bark (or big bark) to express a number of different emotions and it can mean one of many different things depending on the given situation.
While it’s obviously unreasonable to expect your dog to never bark, how do you stop your dog from barking excessively because it can drive us (and our neighbours) crazy!
So why do some pooches bark excessively? In order to be a well rounded member of your canine community, your dog needs to be aware that excessive barking is definitely not a good thing for him to partake in.
What Causes Excessive Barking
Before we look at some ways of tackling the issue, lets look at some potential causes of the the excessive barking as it’s crucial to understand WHY they do it so a that direct strategy can be employed to stop it from happening.
According to the RSPCA, here are some of the most common causes of excessive barking:
This is an obvious one but if your dog feels threatened or fearful in any way then he may bark as a result.
This could take place at home or outdoors and in reaction to anything that frightens your dog which could be a person, a loud noise like fireworks, screaming kids or a strange, new situation.
Dogs are territorial by nature. The often become highly territorial if a new person or another dog comes into what they see as their territory and want to protect it. Barking is a dogs first line of defence against intruders so expect increased barking if this situation arises.
Dogs love being in the company of their humans and other trusted pooches within their circle of friends!
Being pack animals by nature, if they’re alone for long periods of time without mental stimulation, they may bark more as a sign that they are unhappy or anxious.
A dog that is bored and starved of stimulation will very likely bark more and sometimes excessively.
Attention Seeking & Greeting
As we’ve already covered, most dogs love attention and barking can be an easy way to get more! Excitable breeds are prone to this, however sometimes the attention seeking is actually for good reason…..Perhaps they need to get outside and go to the toilet or maybe they’re simply reminding you that their afternoon walk is overdue!
This can be a real problem for many dogs. Being left alone and separated from their beloved humans can have a very negative impact on your dogs emotions.
They don’t have a job, social media, hobbies or shopping to fill their time…they only have us and the love and attention we give them.
Feeling sad or anxious due to the separation is a common cause of excessive barking and other negative, destructive behaviors such as chewing and scratching furniture or doors.
Some dogs may bark more due to pain or discomfort arising from medical issues. It’s always worth checking to see if your dog has any obvious sore or tender spots that cause a reaction when it’s touched.
If in doubt, ask a qualified veterinarian for more advice
How To Stop Excessive Barking
So what are some things we can do to stop the excessive barking? As previously discussed, identifying why your dog is presenting this behaviour is a solid first step and can save a great deal of trial and error! Here are some proven ways to help with some of the common causes:
1.Use Sight Barriers
Territorial barking can ensue when a dog sees or hears something that arouses his attention and his primal switch to defend his territory.
This is why it’s common for a pooch to bark so enthusiastically at the living room window, the front door or the garden fence.
Try blocking your dogs line of sight to the obvious barking triggers. For example closing the curtains or blinds indoors or by using privacy fencing in the garden to cut off views to the street or neighbouring gardens.
2.Set up a Doggy Quiet Zone
If you notice that your precious pooch barks when you leave the house, this can be an indicator that he is suffering from separation anxiety. An idea to counter this is to set up a safe space / doggy quiet zone, set up somewhere peaceful and away from the front door or the trigger of the behaviour. This zone could include:
A baby gate designed to block access to areas that trigger the anxiety.
- A toy designed to be ﬁlled with treats for the purpose of keeping them focused and entertained when you leave the house. Having something in their mouth such as one of the treat dispensing toys may well distract them from the barking!
- TV or radio to provide background noise to give them something to focus on instead of reacting to every little noise they pick up. You could also try something like a white noise machine or phone app, these are often even more effective and can be very satisfying for your dog.
3.Ignore the Barking
This method involves ignoring your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to completely stop. Don’t give him any attention whatsoever whilst he’s barking.
As he’s likely searching for attention, your attention is essentially a reward. Instead, turn away from him, ignore him and don’t say anything. When he eventually quiets down, turn back to him and reward him with a treat. This type of positive reinforcement training can work wonders with some perseverance and dedication!
To make this method successful, you have to wait as long as it takes (no matter how difﬁcult) for him to completely stop barking even if this takes a long time as otherwise he’ll think he just needs to bark longer for attention if you give up before he does!
4.Keep Your Dog Tired
Although perhaps an obvious one, this point is often overlooked. Always make sure your pooch is getting ample and sufﬁcient physical and mental exercise every single day.
Dogs are bundles of live energy and it’s a buildup of this that can often cause negative behavior traits such as excessive barking and chewing furniture.
Depending on the age and breed of your dog, ensure that no matter what your circumstances are, that he gets his walkies!
There are so many dog walking services popping up in every city that ﬁnding a reputable one shouldn’t be difﬁcult if you feel your schedule won’t allow for that park run! A tired dog is a well behaved dog and one who is certainly less likely to bark excessively due to boredom or pent up energy and frustration.
Use games such as tug of war and fetch to add in some fun play time before you go out so your dog feels satisﬁed and connected with you!
He’ll likely want to nap after playtime so this will be great for keeping him calm and help him overcome any anxiety associated with you leaving the house or the postman coming up the driveway!
What Not to Do!
Okay so we’ve discussed some methods to help prevent excessive barking but what methods are less advisable (and less effective)?
Some things to consider are:
- Never shout at your dog. This will antagonize and stress out a dog already in a difficult emotional place.
In fact, shouting will likely exacerbate this negative behavior and make it worse by causing yet more anxiety. It certainly won’t help improve your dog’s behavior.
- Don’t hit your dog or use devices like electric shock collars. These methods are painful and unkind and can lead to a further build up of stress and anxiety in your dog. Look to positive reinforcement methods such as those discussed above.
- Don’t let your dog bark excessively when outside. Focus on the training methods above or talk with a professional trainer for more ideas and techniques specific to your situation. Allowing excessive barking outside is a very quick way of turning your neighbors into enemies…
So there you have some ideas to help stop some of the unwanted noise that comes from our adorable furry friends! Remember, positive training should be lots of fun for you both. so don’t stress if your dog doesn’t get it straight away.
They learn at different rates so the most important aspect is gradual progress towards your goals. Practice makes perfect and your dog will enjoy learning new things if he feels happy and loved in the process!
This type of positive reinforcement training is also a great opportunity to bond with your doggy so enjoy it, have fun, persevere and succeed together!