Dogs and barking just go togethter. Like peas and carrots, or ice cream and hot fudge! Although, maybe not as pleasant. Barking is a useful way for dogs to communicate and most often used to alert others to potential danger. But what if all your dog does is bark, bark, BARK!? Even if there is no threat of danger? Why do some dogs just seem to bark whithout reason?
Well, even though some people may talk just to hear themselves talk, dogs don’t usually bark just to hear themselves bark. There is usually a reason behind all that barking. In this article, the aim is to list some reasons as to why your dog may be barking uncontrollably and some simple solutions that may help to stop it.
Reason #1: Bordem
Lots of dogs bark simply because they are bored to… well… barking! They are stuck inside for long periods of time and barking may be a way of communicating to those outside. Your dog may be saying: “Help! I’m stuck inside! Let me out!” or “Over here! Come play with me!”
Solution: Take your dog out more often! Let him/her interact with other dogs, or if you have the means, look into getting your furry friend a friend of his/her own! You can also give your dog puzzle treats to keep him/her busy. Puzzle treats can be a Kong or hollow bone stuffed with food and capped with peanut butter or cheese. There are also puzzle toys for dogs that dispense treats as they move them around. You could also hide treats randomly around the house to keep your dog’s nose busy, just make sure he/she doesn’t get into something he/she shouldn’t! ;)
Reason #2: Frustration
Frustration is a big reason why dogs bark continuously. A frustration bark is usually accompanied by some whining and maybe even some light growling. Leash or barrier frustration causes dogs to bark because they can’t get to whatever or whoever they are trying to get to. Imagine there is a tall fence between you and your dream car. You can have the car if you can get to it, but you have to get past the tall fence to get to it. If you couldn’t figure out how to get past that fence, wouldn’t you yell, shout, or even scream? Or imagine the fence is a tether instead, would you not pull as hard as you could to get to that car? Now imagine that someone walks up on the other side of the fence, or just far enough away from the tether. Would you not yell at that person for help? That’s how your dog feels when suffering from leash or barrier frustration.
Solution: Again, take your dog out more often! Get your dog nice and tired so that when he/she has to be confined he/she won’t care!
Reason #3: Sentry Duty
Ok, if you’ve ever read any of my blogs or facebook notes then you know I believe that all dogs have a job to do with in a pack. They typically assign themselves these jobs, but can also be appointed to do these jobs as well. A sentry is the dog in the pack that is the look out, or the dog that alerts to any potential danger. Sentries are very alert dogs that rarely ever completely relax. It’s a stressful job for a dog. Could you imagine having to be on look out for your home 24/7? Sometimes very insecure sentries will bark at everything that makes noise. Such as, the wind, the tv, car doors slamming, people talking outside, inside, or on the phone! It can seem like everything sets these dogs off.
Solution: Socialization! Take your dog out more often to meet new people and dogs. Get them used to outdoor sounds by walking them around the neighborhood everyday! They’ll get plenty of exercise and hopefully they’ll be tired enough to actually get some rest. Also, confidence boosting exercises can work well such as, tug-o-war. Let the dog win once in a while, but always stay in control of the game.
Reason #4: Play and Excitement
(I’ve mashed play and excitement together for the purposes of this article. However, most dogs when excited usually want to play to get rid of that burst of energy). Dogs bark when they are playing and excited. It’s a simple fact of life. Some people don’t like it and put a stop to it. But that would be like stopping you from laughing, shouting, and squeaking when playing with your friends. Can you play quietly? If you won a million dollars in the lottery, wouldn’t you scream and jump up and down? To some dogs, meeting someone new or seeing someone they love is just as exciting to them as winning the lottery is to us. Some dogs bark more than others while playing, but all dogs will bark at some point while playing. It’s how they communicate that they are having a good time.
Solution: Limit play. Let the dogs play somewhere where barking will be ok, like the dog park. Teach your dog how to react when in a situation that would cause excitement. Example: Teach them to sit instead of barking or jumping up.
Reason #5: Complaining
Dogs will often bark a certain way when complaining. It’s usually a rolling mid to high bark. It can be quite annoying, and is rarely effective. Dogs will complain when something is taken from them and they don’t want to fight to get it back. It’s the equivalent of a child complaining because someone took his toy or won’t share. They may stand in front of the offender and bark until the item is dropped or given back. German Shepherds are probably the breed that complains the most! ;) They tend to complain about everything. Whether someone took a ball away, food, treats, beds, etc. They will usually complain until the item is given back, or taken out of sight. Although this bark is similar to frustration barks, there isn’t usually any growling involved while complaining, however whining can accompany this bark.
Solution: The best method, I’ve found, of solving this kind of problem barking is simply to ignore it. If you give your dog any attention, or give them the item, while complaining they will learn to complain more. However, if you completely ignore the annoying barking, the dog will eventually learn that complaining is a waste of energy and time and the behavior should extinguish. Some dogs are more persistant than others, and if your dog has already learned that complaining works it may take longer to extiguish the behavior. Ignoring this kind of barking takes a lot of patience. You may even have to chant to yourself, or listen to music via headphones… lol. :)
There may be more reasons as to why your dog is barking, but the five listed above are the most common. If you are having difficulty extingushing annoyance barking, then your best bet is to contact a behaviorist or trainer in your area.
I do not generally recommend bark collars because they can create phobias and cause psychological damage to some dogs. However, this is solely my opinion and if you are looking into these collars as a solution I suggest you do a lot of research on them. YouTube has some interesting videos of people using them on themselves if you’d like to see how badly they can hurt.