Is Barking a Problem?

As dog owners, we are responsible for the care and well being of our pets.  Sometimes we forget that our dogs can affect other people's lives as well as our own.  Excessive barking is among the most frequent reasons for the surrender of an animal.    Often, as owners, we aren't aware of how much disturbance out own dogs are causing, or that we may have neighbors that are sensitive to our dogs sounds.  To help your dog stop excessively barking an owner must first determine what is causing the barking. 

Often dogs bark during times of indecision, anxiety, frustration, boredom and separation from their owners.  Dogs also bark to warn their owners of a perceived threat, to warn strangers and other dogs about their willingness to defend their territory and territory status.  Medical problems can also contribute to excessive vocalization, especially to other dogs.

Why Dogs Bark

For dogs, barking is a form of communication.  They bark or whine at various pitches and volumes to vocalize their emotions.  It may be a high pitched whine to attract other dogs; a warning or alarm or a challenge to other dogs.

The most common causes of excessive barking are:


Irregular or inadequate mental and physical stimulation may contribute to your dogs barking.

Dogs are social animals and will actively seek the company of other dogs and people.  when left alone for lengthy periods of time, they may bark for attention.  They may also need interesting things to keep them occupied.  Providing more physical and mental stimulation for your dog may help resolve the barking problem.

Daily walks and obedience training sessions will help you dog "have a job to do", help in keeping them physically fit and possibly a bit tired and may also keep them from becoming bored.

You can also hide treats in your dogs accessible area for them to find throughout the day, a fine game of hide and seek with a treat as the reward will keep many dogs busy all day.

Area pet stores have many other chew toys and behavior training aids that mighty help to keep your dog busy instead of barking.


  Changes to a Dogs Lifestyle or Distractions

Often a move to a different neighborhood, a different house or having new neighbors move in will cause your dog anxiety.  He/She may feel the need to reestablish their status on and in their territory.  They may bark at strangers, neighbors walking dogs, children riding bicycles, school busses and other new and unfamiliar sounds and smells.

You may consider keeping your dog from areas that allow them to see pedestrian traffic.  If your dog is bothered by night-time distractions such as cars, sirens, security lights, shadows, wind or other animals, you might consider putting the dogs in their kennel (their "safe place" during the night.

If you dog barks during the day, you may consider an early morning feeding to encourage them to nap, or smaller feeding both morning and night might be just the ticket.

Health Issues

Healthy dogs are happy dogs.  There are times when excessive barking may be caused by a health issue.  It is important you dog receive a health checkup annually and you discuss changed in your dog's behavior with your veterinarian.  such things as hearing and sight issues can lead to excessive barking.

Establish a regular routine of giving your dog attention when you are home.  Leave the dog alone for short periods at first, then gradually increase the time your dog will spend on its own.  Soon it will learn that you will return.  If there have been changes in your dog's live, don't ignore them.


Separation Anxiety

This is a very frequent cause of inappropriate barking.  When dogs forma particularly strong bond to one or more members of the household, the dog can become very distressed when separated from them.  Owners are often not aware of the problem because this type of barking and whining tends to occur most when they are not home.

Dogs are naturally denning animals.  In the wild they will seek a cave or close protected area for comfort and safety.  Owners can create a den or small, enclosed area in the house or outside, which should include something that smells strongly of the owner.  This den area should never be used for punishment; it should be a place of safety and comfort.



Things To Try

Obedience training - Not only a good way of providing training, exercise and an outing for both you and your dog, obedience training also promotes good social behavior with other dogs and people.  Well socialized dogs tend to bark less.

Exercise - exercise alone may not stop a dog from barking, but it will help to provide an active release for its energy.  Exercise should be varied with 15-20 minutes daily spent walking, training and playing.

Safe Kenneling - Dogs are denning animals, allowing them to be in their kennel while you are gone will allow them to be in a protected environment. 

Entertainment - Use bones and toys for an entertainment activity when you are gone.  A kong stuffed with peanut butter will give most dogs hours of entertainment.  Stuffed bones and other activity and treat toys are available at your local pet store.



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Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.