Barking - Causes & Solutions
Breed Of Dog
Barking is a natural behavior that may occur more in some breeds or
individual dogs than others because of their breeding or temperament. Some
are more excitable, while others are more likely to react to confinement or
isolation by barking.
Prospective owners need to carefully select a dog suitable for their lifestyle
and home environment.
Dogs will bark at any noises or movements they can see hear and smell but
are not able to investigate or reach. People or dogs passing by, birds flying
overhead, lawn mowers, the telephone ringing, a knock on the door, livestock
in adjacent paddocks or the sound of other dogs may trigger a bout of
A well-socialized dog that has been given a variety of experiences when young
is less likely to overreact to outside distractions.
Dogs are social animals and will actively seek the company of other dogs and
people. When left alone in back yards all day they may bark for attention.
Most dogs will adapt to being left on their own if conditioned to do so from
an early age. Leaving the dog alone for short periods at first and then
gradually increasing the time to the maximum period it will regularly spend on
its own, will help the dog to adjust.
Owners can also assist by establishing a routine so that the dog receives
attention when they are home.
A dog should not be kept near a walkway, hostile neighbors, or where children
can tease it. The location of the dog's kennel or run may need to be changed
if it is too close to a neighbor or other distractions.
Neighbors who have dogs that growl and bark at each other should restrict
each of the dogs access to the fence-line. A high solid fence or confining the
dog to the rear of a property can prevent a dog from growling, barking or
lunging at passers-by.
A dog will often bark at visitors arriving, whether they are strangers or
friends, especially if it is behind a barrier. If a dog is introduced to the
visitors, it won't be so vocal when they arrive.
Many dogs are anxious or insecure when their owners are absent and may
cope with the stress of separation by barking, digging or chewing.
Plastic or hide bones should be given to the dog before its owner leaves home
as these can provide an outlet for the dog's anxiety. Minimal attention should
be given to the dog before its owner departs.
Excitable dogs will bark when over-stimulated. This frequently occurs during
play or when the dog is chasing a ball or birds in the garden.
Changes In The Dogs Life
A major change in an older dog's lifestyle or environment may cause excessive
barking. If an owner starts working longer hours, a marriage breaks up, a new
baby arrives or a family shifts house, the amount and type of attention the
dog receives or its status in the household may change.
Instead of ignoring the dog, the owner should establish a new routine that
includes exercise, training and play.
Dogs that are hot, wet, cold or without shelter may bark, as will dogs that are
sick or in pain, hungry, thirsty or entangled in their chain. Before leaving
home, the owner must ensure that their dog has access to good shelter,
bedding, food, water and familiar toys throughout the day.
Dogs that are kept inside should have access to the outside when their owners
Teaching The Dog To Bark
If a dog is taken for a walk, brought into the house or comforted because its
barking is too loud and prolonged, then the barking will always be loud and
prolonged. The dog soon learns that barking can be rewarding.
If a dog is brought inside the house because of it’s barking it must be done
so on a permanent basis. A part of the house can be sectioned off for its use.
Correcting Excessive Barking
Yelling at or hitting a barking dog achieves nothing except to reward the dog
by giving it the attention it was seeking. Whether the attention is good or bad
it does not matter to a dog that seeks this.
Physical punishment will increase the likelihood of future barking by making
the dog more anxious and may also cause it to bite when threatened in the
Get into the habit of rewarding a dog for being quiet by praising him or
releasing him. To often we only acknowledge the dog when he barks.
Exercise along will not stop a dog from barking, but it may provide an active
release for its energy. Exercise should be varied, with 15-20 minutes daily
spent walking, training and playing with the dog. If the dog is to be left alone
all day, it is preferable for the owner to exercise it before leaving work.
Riding a bicycle with the dog running alongside is dangerous. Too often a dog
is distracted by another dog and pulls its owner off the bicycle and into
traffic, or the dog itself gets injured in the moving wheels.
Getting A Second Dog
Another dog may help if a dog is barking because of isolation or anxiety. If
not, then the resident dog will probably teach the new dog to bark at all the
distractions it presently barks at.
Owners considering a second dog should first borrow a dog from friends, on
different occasions, to assess whether company will reduce their dog's
barking. Other pets can provide company for the dog. Caged birds can be
used, but they must be kept out of the dog's reach.
Barking Dogs Kept Inside The House
Curtains should be drawn and the dog's access to windows restricted to
prevent it from barking at passers-by.
A "do not disturb", or a "do not ring" sign pinned to the door when the owner
is absent will decrease the likelihood of the dog barking when someone
knocks or rings.
Some dogs will relax more if the lighting is dimmed.
A radio, TV, video or music can be left playing when the owner is out. This
may comfort the dog by muffling any extraneous sounds and creating
conditions similar to when its owners are home.
If the continual ringing of a telephone causes the dog to bark, an answer
phone can be installed. This will enable the owner to call home at irregular
intervals and use their voice to distract the dog from its barking.
View "Is an Anti-Bark Collar Right for Your Barking Dog?" published by PetSafe for more information.