My Dog Barks Too Much
It’s incredibly common for pet owners to find themselves saying this. Of course, it would be silly to expect a dog never to bark… that’s just like expecting a child never to talk! But just as some children have a lot to say, some dogs do too, and they bark excessively.
In order to get your dog to stop barking, you must figure out why they’re barking so much in the first place. Once you’ve got a solid understanding, you can take the proper steps to treat the problem.
Reasons Why My Dog Barks Too Much
- Attention Seeking
- Separation Anxiety
Type of Speak
- Barking – Depending on the pitch and duration, a dog’s bark can indicate an alert, a sign of distress, a friendly greeting, or a way of telling others to stop what they are doing.
- Howling – Remember, dogs descend from wolves. Howling is typically intended as long-range communication and can convey a variety of things, including guidance, warning, anxiety, and curiosity.
- Yelping – Yelping is often a loud, sharp, high-pitched noise and can mean several things, including sudden pain, surprise, or fright.
- Growling – This will be more of an under-the-breath grumble and typically indicates irritation or displeasure but can also occur during play. The best way to tell is through body language.
- Whining – While puppies most commonly use this, a lot of dogs will whimper and whine for attention to indicate that they need something, they are upset or stressed, they are in pain, or they’re so excited they just can’t contain themselves.
Train Your Dog to Not Bark
The Humane Society shared six helpful ways to stop dog barking but suggests that while it can be successful, it won’t happen overnight –for best results and to get your dog to stop barking, training and barking behavior practice sessions should be conducted long term.
- Remove the motivation: It’s likely your dog gets some kind of reward when they bark. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even do it. Figure out what they get out of it and remove it. Don’t allow your dog to continue the behavior. (i.e., if your dog barks at passersby in the front window, close the curtains or put the dog in another room.)
- Ignore the barking: If you believe the barking is for attention, ignore them for as long as it takes them to stop. Don’t acknowledge them – don’t talk to them, touch them, or even look at them, or you are just rewarding them for being so noisy. Once they’ve quieted down, reward them with a treat. Just remember, this method requires patience. (i.e., if your dog is barking while in a crate or gated room, turn your back and ignore them until they stop. Then turn around and praise with a treat.)
- Desensitize your dog to the stimulus: Gradually help your dog become accustomed to whatever is causing them to go off. Begin with the stimulus (whatever triggers them) at a distance — far enough away that they don’t bark when they see it. Give them treats, then move the stimulus a little closer. More treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving treats. You want your pup to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (AKA treats!). (i.e., if your dog barks at other dogs, have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far away. As they start coming into view, begin giving your dog treats, then stop once they disappear from view.)
- Ask for an incompatible behavior: When your dog begins barking, ask them to do something incompatible with the behavior. You teach them to react to the stimuli with something else that inhibits them from barking, like lying down on their bed. (i.e., if someone is at the door, toss a treat onto your dog’s bed and command them “go lay down” or “go to your bed.”)
- Keep them tired: A tired dog is a good dog, so make sure your pooch is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise each day. The amount of activity your dog requires will depend on its breed, age, and health.
- Contact a professional: If you believe your dog is barking reactively or aggressively to other dogs, strangers, or family members, or if the above tips prove to be unsuccessful, consider reaching out to a certified professional dog trainer for help.
Additionally, the Humane Society recommends pet owners keep these tips in mind when training:
- Avoid yelling at your dog to be quiet—it just sounds like you’re barking along with them.
- Keep your training sessions upbeat and positive.
- Be consistent so as not to confuse your dog. Everyone in the household must also apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some of the time but not others.
The sounds our pups make can indicate a lot about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking, so on one side, it’s important to really listen to what they’re trying to say. On the other, it’s imperative that we learn the different behavior-curbing methods to maintain control over any given situation.