‘Why do dogs bark?’ is something every frustrated dog parent has asked themselves at some point.
Especially if your dog goes on looong monologues that fill the passage or the street with dog vowels. Even more so if you’ve discovered an angry note in your letterbox about your dog’s not-so-neighbourly vocalisations.
Reasons why dogs bark
Dogs have various reasons for making a lot of noise. Most of the time, a burst of noise is a warning of strangers or other dogs approaching, a welcome home hello, a request to not leave them or an invitation to play.
Usually, it ceases as soon as the stimulus does. But when the barking goes on and on, ask yourself these questions:
Could it be a lack of exercise? Dogs need daily exercise and if they don’t get it, they can become frustrated and may have something to say about it. On loop.
The answer is to get out and about with doggie more often. A tired dog is usually a quiet dog, after all.
Not prepared for walkies? Here’s a DIY dog walking kit to help you find your way.
Could all the dog barking be due to lack of stimulation? Boredom is a big problem, especially with solo dogs left alone at home.
Are they lacking in toys to play with while you’re not there? Treats to find hidden in various places around the yard? Are you playing with them enough when you’re at home?
If you think lack of stimulation is a reason why your dog barks and you don’t have enough time to spend with them then maybe you could take them to doggy daycare regularly? Or even every now and then. You could also look into playdates with someone who’s happy to take them – even better if they have a dog too.
Why do dogs bark? Hmmm… Could it be separation anxiety? If you work or are out a lot while your dog stays home, this could be causing some emotional discomfort that they try to address verbally.
If it’s a new puppy, it could still be adjusting to your home. Then when you disappear for an extended time without warning, the puppy might feel abandoned. In puppy minds, 10 minutes can feel like an abandonment.
One trick is to spend more quality time together more often. Not possible? Perhaps consider adding another dog to the pack. Regardless, research your options – more tips and tricks are here in our article about separation anxiety in pets.
Q: Illness or injury?
When you’re wondering why dogs bark, wonder if it could be a medical complaint. An illness, injury, chronic pain, insect bites and even neurological disorders can cause incessant barking. Senior dogs can get quite vocal if they’re going senile.
A vet can verify if there’s a medical cause for the complaint. And your dog insurance can help ensure the treatment costs are covered.
More help for your barking dog
You can see there are plenty of reasons behind a dog barking, and ways to help your pup if they’re barking a lot. A couple of other do’s and don’ts are:
Don’t: Shout at a dog barking a lot. It will confuse them, and the negative energy will only contribute to their unhappiness.
Do: Teach them ‘quiet,’ quietly.
“When your dog is barking,” suggests PetMD, “say ‘quiet’ in a calm, firm voice. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just to take a breath, then praise him and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking.”
Don’t: Wait for someone to call the cops on your monologuing canine.
Do: Address it ASAP. Dogs may derive pleasure from vocalising, and if this behaviour is allowed, it could develop into direct aggression. You wouldn’t want your dog barking wildly in the face of a four year old child, would you?
If you aren’t sure of the causes or you don’t know what to do, and you’ve verified that it isn’t medical, an animal behaviourist can be a huge help.
There are plenty of dog trainers and behaviouralists across New Zealand – a few dollars spent now with a professional could mean years of peace for you and your neighbours.