Dogs are highly social animals and form strong bonds with their owners, often viewing them as part of their pack. When you come home, your dog’s enthusiastic response stems from their happiness and relief at your return. They display their affection through various behaviors, including wagging their tail, jumping, barking excitedly, licking, and following you around the house, all showing their joy and love for you.
Out of all the reasons, excessive dog barking is the most worrisome for many dog parents. This behavior doesn’t only affect people living in the house but also your neighbors.
Hence, it is important to understand why dogs bark when you return home and how to train your dog to stop barking on your return.
12 Probable Reasons Your Dog Barks When You Return Home
Dogs often bark when their owners return home because they are happy and excited. This is their way of expressing joy and welcoming you back. It’s akin to a human shouting with joy. For instance, if your dog starts barking and wagging its tail when it hears your car in the driveway, it’s a sign of an excited, joyful greeting.
Demand for Attention
Barking can also be a demand for attention. If you’ve been gone for a while, your dog might feel lonely and neglected. By barking, they say, “Look at me! I missed you!”. For example, if your dog barks and immediately brings you their favorite toy, they are likely seeking interaction and playtime.
Anxiety Relief/Separation Anxiety
Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety. When they see you, their anxiety lessens, and they bark as a result of this relief. It’s an instinctive response to the cessation of the stressful situation, a way of venting. You may notice this if your dog appears nervous or overly excited when you arrive and barks excessively.
Communication of Needs
Dogs may also bark to communicate specific needs. If your dog needs to go outside, is hungry, or requires medical attention, they may bark to let you know. For instance, if your dog is barking and heading towards the door or their food bowl, they may be trying to communicate these needs to you.
Bored and Lonely
If a dog is left alone for too long, they can become bored and lonely, leading to barking to express their frustration. For instance, a dog who barks non-stop while you’re away may be bored and lonely, especially if left alone without toys or activities.
Dogs may bark to alert you that they’re hungry. This behavior is more likely if it’s near their regular feeding time. If your dog stands by their food dish and barks, they’re probably telling you it’s time for dinner.
Dogs may bark when they need to go outside for a bathroom break. This can be common with puppies still learning to control their bladders. If your dog is barking and pacing near the door, it might be a sign they need to go outside.
Issue with Environment
If something in your dog’s environment is causing discomfort or fear, they may bark to signal their distress. This could be a loud noise, a strange person, or even a new piece of furniture. For example, a dog may bark at the sound of fireworks or thunderstorms.
If dogs learn that barking gets them what they want, such as attention or treats, they’ll continue the behavior. For instance, if you treat your dog every time they bark, they learn that barking gets them a reward.
Dogs often bark to protect their territory or family. If your dog barks whenever they see a stranger approaching your home, they likely exhibit their guarding instincts.
As dogs age, they can develop cognitive dysfunction syndrome (similar to dementia in humans), leading to confusion and increased barking. For instance, an elderly dog may bark without apparent reason, especially during nighttime.
Injury or Pain
A dog may bark to communicate their discomfort if injured or in pain. For instance, if your dog suddenly starts barking and showing signs of discomfort like limping or licking a specific area excessively, they might be injured or in pain.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking on Your Return?
Train your dog to respond to a ‘quiet’ command. Start by saying the command when your dog barks, rewarding them when they stop. For instance, this could be particularly useful for training a vocal breed like the Beagle, known for its propensity to bark.
Ignore the Barking
Do not reward the barking by giving your dog attention. Ignore them until they stop barking, then give them attention and a reward. This is especially helpful for breeds like the Shetland Sheepdog, known to bark for attention.
Regular exercise can help reduce excessive barking, reducing their energy levels and making them less likely to bark out of excitement or boredom. Breeds with high energy levels, like the Border Collie, can benefit from this.
Devices such as ultrasonic emitters or bark control collars can be used to deter excessive barking. They emit a sound or sensation that dogs find unpleasant when they bark. However, they should be used as a last resort and under guidance, as they can cause stress if misused. The Boxer, known for its boisterous behavior, might be a candidate for such devices.
Reward your dog for quiet behavior. As soon as they stop barking, give them a treat or pet them. Over time, they will associate quiet behavior with positive outcomes. Being food motivated, Labrador Retrievers can respond well to such positive reinforcement.
If your dog barks in response to certain triggers, desensitize them to these triggers. For example, if your Siberian Husky barks when you put on your shoes (a sign you’re leaving), practice the action repeatedly without leaving to lessen the association.
If your dog’s barking persists, consider hiring a professional dog trainer or behaviorist, especially for breeds known to be stubborn, like the Bulldog. They can provide personalized training techniques and help identify any underlying issues causing the excessive barking.