Excessive dog barking refers to repetitive, unnecessary, or constant noise made by a dog, typically beyond what is considered normal or natural for the breed and the situation. It can often indicate stress, boredom, anxiety, hunger, or some other kind of discomfort in dogs and can become problematic if it disturbs the peace of a household or neighborhood.
10 Common Causes of Excessive Dog Barking – Why Dogs Bark Too Much
Dogs often bark excessively when they feel a threat to their territory or family. For example, an Akita, known for its strong protective instincts, might bark incessantly when a stranger approaches the property. This type of barking can escalate if the perceived threat moves closer, demonstrating the dog’s natural desire to safeguard its environment and pack.
Some dogs bark excessively out of fear or in response to unfamiliar or unexpected stimuli. A Chihuahua, for example, might bark non-stop during a thunderstorm or when encountering new objects or people. This high-pitched, often frantic barking can be triggered by anything from the doorbell to a passing cyclist, indicating the dog’s heightened state of fear or alarm.
Dogs that are left alone for extended periods, particularly social breeds like Golden Retrievers, can exhibit excessive barking. This may indicate boredom or loneliness, as dogs are pack animals and crave company. Regular exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction can often help alleviate this type of excessive barking.
Many dogs bark excessively when greeting people or other animals. An Australian Shepherd, for instance, might bark with excitement upon the return of the owner from work. This barking is usually accompanied by tail wags and sometimes jumping, reflecting the dog’s joy and desire to engage in play.
Some dogs bark excessively to gain attention or rewards, like food or toys. Beagles are one such breed that may bark excessively to communicate their needs to their owners. Such behavior can inadvertently be reinforced if owners give in and provide attention or treats when the barking starts.
Separation Anxiety Barking
Dogs suffering from separation anxiety, such as the Vizsla, may bark excessively when left alone. This barking often comes in conjunction with other symptoms of anxiety, such as pacing, destruction, and inappropriate elimination. It reflects the dog’s distress about being separated from its family.
Dogs may bark excessively due to pain or discomfort caused by a health issue. Older dogs, especially breeds prone to health issues like the Dachshund, may bark excessively when they’re in pain, possibly due to arthritis or other chronic conditions. The sudden onset of excessive barking always warrants a consultation with a veterinarian.
Some dogs may engage in compulsive barking, similar to compulsive behaviors in humans. For example, Shelties are known to fall into this category. These dogs may bark excessively and repetitively at a fence or in a corner, driven by anxiety, stress, or boredom. This kind of behavior often requires professional help, like a dog behaviorist, to address.
Canine Dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), is a disease prevalent in older dogs, much like Alzheimer’s in humans. This condition affects a dog’s memory, learning, perception, and awareness. A dog with CCD might forget familiar paths, fail to recognize family members, or have difficulty navigating furniture.
For example, an aged Labrador Retriever may start to show signs of confusion, exhibit disrupted sleep patterns, or have more frequent accidents inside the house. Management for this condition often involves environmental adjustments, medication, and mental stimulation to slow the disease’s progression. It’s essential for dog owners to consult a veterinarian if their pet starts to display any signs of cognitive dysfunction.
Breed traits refer to the inherent characteristics, behaviors, and tendencies of specific dog breeds, often established and strengthened over generations of selective breeding. For instance, Border Collies are known for their intelligence and high energy levels, bred over time for their ability to herd livestock. This results in a dog that needs a lot of physical and mental stimulation and can become restless and destructive if not sufficiently challenged.
Alternatively, Basset Hounds are a breed with scent-driven traits and might be found following their nose more often than not, leading to possible issues with recall. Understanding a dog’s breed traits is crucial in providing an environment and lifestyle that meet the dog’s inherent needs and predispositions.
Identifying the Reason for Dog Barking
Your dog may bark due to various reasons like your returning to home. Hence, it is important to understand to identify and characterize a dog’s environment, daily activities, and barking habits. Here are some points to help you identify the reason for excessive dog barking.
- What triggers the dog’s excessive barking? Are there specific incidents or objects that instigate the behavior?
- Is the barking more intense during particular times of the day or in specific locations?
- Do specific auditory or visual cues provoke the dog’s excessive barking? For example, does the dog bark when hearing a doorbell or seeing a stranger?
- Is there a correlation between the owner’s presence and the dog’s barking? Does the barking increase when the owner leaves or returns home?
- Does the dog spend long durations alone without any form of stimulation or activity? Could boredom or loneliness be causing the excessive barking?
- Is the dog receiving sufficient opportunities to engage in exercise and enriching activities that allow it to exhibit its natural behaviors? Could a lack of physical or mental engagement be contributing to the barking?
Tips to Control Excessive Dog Barking
Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Dogs, particularly active breeds like Border Collies or Australian Shepherds, require regular exercise to burn off energy. In addition, mental stimulation such as puzzle toys, obedience training, or agility can help keep their mind occupied. Without these, they might resort to excessive barking out of boredom or frustration.
Teach the ‘Quiet’ Command
Training your dog to understand the ‘quiet’ command can be a very effective way to control excessive barking. Start by allowing your dog to bark, for example, when someone is at the door, then say ‘quiet’ and reward your dog as soon as they stop barking. Gradually, they’ll learn that ‘quiet’ means to stop barking and that doing so results in a treat.
Remove or Modify the Barking Triggers
If your dog barks excessively at squirrels in the backyard, close the blinds or move the dog to another room. If your dog barks when left alone, consider a doggie daycare or a pet sitter to reduce their anxiety. By identifying and managing your dog’s triggers, you can help decrease their need to bark.
Ignore the Barking
If your dog barks to get attention, make sure you only give it to them when they’re quiet. This can be tough to stick with, especially if your dog is persistent. But remember, responding with shouting or scolding can be interpreted as attention and thus might inadvertently reinforce the behavior.
Use Barking Control Devices
Devices such as ultrasonic bark control tools can deter a dog from barking. These tools emit a high-frequency sound that’s unpleasant for dogs but not harmful. When the dog starts barking, the device activates and emits this sound, which encourages the dog to stop. It’s crucial to only use these devices as a last resort and under professional guidance to ensure they’re used correctly and safely.
If your attempts to control excessive barking aren’t working, it might be time to consult a professional. Certified dog trainers or animal behaviorists can provide insights into why your dog is barking excessively and offer personalized training techniques. For example, a behaviorist might suggest counter-conditioning for a dog that barks excessively at the mail carrier, training the dog to instead perform a positive behavior, like going to its bed.
Excessive dog barking is a common issue that often indicates underlying problems such as boredom, anxiety, or unmet needs. By understanding the triggers and implementing strategies like providing ample exercise, training, and even professional assistance, you can significantly reduce excessive barking. Always remember that each dog is unique, and a successful resolution depends on a thoughtful and patient approach tailored to the individual dog’s needs.