When left alone, dogs’ behavior varies. Some engage in exploration, play with toys, or simply sleep. However, others may become anxious and engage in destructive behavior, excessive barking, or pacing. Regular exercise, training, and environmental enrichment can help to alleviate these issues.
The most worrisome among these is excessive barking. Your neighbors can complain against you, and you may be penalized as per local laws. If the problem persists, animal services can take away your dog and fine you heavily.
Let’s check out why a dog barks too much when left alone.
7 Probable Reasons a Dog Barks When Left Alone
This is a common reason why dogs bark excessively at me when left alone. Separation anxiety occurs when a dog is overly attached to its owner and becomes anxious in their absence. For example, if a dog becomes used to having its owner around all the time, like during a lockdown situation, it may develop separation anxiety when the owner suddenly returns to work and leaves the dog alone at home. The resulting barking is a stress response.
Dogs are active and social animals that require physical and mental stimulation. When left alone without any activities to engage them, they can easily get bored and start barking. For instance, a Border Collie, known for its high energy and intelligence, may start barking continuously when left alone without any toys or puzzles to keep it engaged.
Fear or Distress
Dogs often bark when they feel threatened or scared on its reflection. If something in their environment, such as a loud noise, an unfamiliar person, or another animal, makes them uncomfortable, they may bark. An example could be a dog that’s not used to being alone during thunderstorms and might start barking due to the unfamiliar loud noises.
Hunger or Discomfort
Sometimes, a dog might bark when it needs something. If it’s hungry, needs to relieve itself, or is uncomfortable, it may bark to express its need. For instance, a dog left alone for extended periods without access to food, water, or a place to relieve itself might bark out of frustration or discomfort.
Some dogs bark simply to get attention. They learn that barking brings some sort of response, such as the owner returning to the room, and they use it as a tool. This is common in dogs that have been rewarded for barking. For example, a dog that barks at its owner until it gets a treat will likely repeat this behavior when left alone.
Sometimes, barking can be a sign of a medical problem. Certain diseases or conditions can cause discomfort or distress a dog may express through barking. For example, a dog suffering from cognitive dysfunction or arthritis may bark excessively when left alone due to discomfort or confusion.
Genetic Predisposition to Barking
Certain breeds have been specifically selected over generations for frequent or loud barking traits. These dogs were often used in roles where barking was beneficial, such as herding, hunting, or guarding. For example, Terrier breeds were used for hunting and pest control, and their barking was useful for alerting their owners. These dogs may be genetically predisposed to bark more, even when left alone.
Tips to Stop a Dog from Barking When Left Alone
Provide Adequate Exercise: Ensure your dog gets plenty of physical activity before you leave to help burn off excess energy and reduce boredom.
Create a Comfortable Environment: Make your dog’s space comfortable and secure, with access to its bed, favorite toys, and perhaps a piece of your clothing for comfort.
Offer Mental Stimulation: Leave puzzle or treat-dispensing toys to keep your dog mentally engaged while you’re away.
Implement Crate Training: A crate can provide a safe, secure space for your dog while you’re gone, but it’s important to gradually accustom your dog to the crate to avoid creating additional stress.
Consider Doggy Daycare or a Pet Sitter: For longer absences, consider a professional pet sitter or a dog daycare to provide companionship and care.
Training and Consistency: Work on commands like “quiet” and “stay,” and consistently reward good behavior and discourage excessive barking.
The Don’ts if Dog is Barking Due to Being Alone
Don’t Shout or Scold: Yelling at a barking dog can escalate the situation, as the dog might think you’re joining in. Keep your tone calm and composed when communicating with your dog.
Don’t Punish: Punishing your dog for barking can increase anxiety and worsen the problem. Instead, focus on rewarding good behavior.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone for Extended Periods: Dogs are social animals, and prolonged isolation can harm their emotional well-being. Try to minimize the duration of time they spend alone.
Don’t Neglect Exercise and Mental Stimulation: Ignoring the need for physical activity and mental stimulation can increase barking due to boredom or excess energy.
Don’t Ignore Potential Health Problems: If your dog’s barking is sudden or seems out of character, don’t ignore it. It may indicate a health issue that requires a vet’s attention.
Don’t Reinforce Barking: Avoid unintentionally reinforcing barking by giving attention, treats, or any kind of reward when your dog barks. Wait until your dog is quiet before offering rewards.
Don’t Expect Immediate Results: Training a dog to reduce barking takes time and patience. Don’t become frustrated or give up if your dog doesn’t change its behavior immediately. Consistency is key.
Can Remote Monitoring Help Control Barking when My Dog is Alone?
Yes, remote monitoring can be a valuable tool in managing and reducing your dog’s barking alone. Using pet monitors or cameras, you can watch your pet from afar and understand the context or triggers behind the barking. This can help identify patterns, such as specific times or triggers that make your dog bark, providing valuable insights to address the issue.
For example, if, through monitoring, you notice your dog tends to bark at the mailman’s daily visits, you can arrange for a distraction during this time, like a stimulating toy or treat-dispensing puzzle.
Some sophisticated pet cameras even allow two-way communication, enabling you to interact with your pet, offering comfort or commands to help calm them down. For instance, if your dog starts barking or showing signs of anxiety, you could use the speaker to offer soothing words, play familiar sounds, or give a command like “quiet.”
Thus, remote monitoring not only allows you to understand the root of the issue but also enables you to intervene and offer reassurance even when you’re not physically present.
Understanding why your Dog Barks when he is Alone
Understanding why your dog barks when it’s alone involves a combination of recognizing its needs and behaviors. Barking could signify boredom, anxiety, fear, or even medical issues. It’s crucial to observe any triggers or patterns in their barking and consult a vet or animal behaviorist. Understanding the cause is the first step towards addressing the issue and providing your dog a healthier and happier environment.
Do Pandemic Puppies Suffer More from Anxiety?
Some evidence suggests that “pandemic puppies,” dogs adopted or bought during lockdown periods, may be more prone to separation anxiety. This is likely because these dogs became used to the constant human company during the lockdown and may find it difficult to adjust when their owners return to regular work routines away from home.
What to do if your Neighbor’s dog is Barking?
If your neighbor’s dog’s barking is causing a disturbance, try to converse politely with your neighbor about the issue. They may not be aware that their dog is causing a problem, especially if the barking occurs when they’re not at home. If the problem persists, you may need to report the noise issue to your local authority or a local animal control department. However, this should be a last resort after attempting to resolve the issue directly.