Dogs bark for many reasons, including to show how they feel, to tell important information, and to get people’s attention on something that worries them. In addition to their faces, bodies, and other sounds, barking is an important way for dogs to talk to each other. People usually find it annoying when a dog barks, but it’s important to remember that from the dog’s point of view, it’s trying to tell something important.
Dogs shouldn’t be yelled at or punished for barking. Instead, if a dog’s barking is making problems for the people around it, knowing why the dog is barking can go a long way toward fixing the problem and finding good ways to train the dog to stop.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Domestic dogs, like their wild relatives, have a wide range of sounds they can use to talk to each other. Over time, they have gotten better at using these sounds to talk to people. Studies of dogs and wild canids like wolves and foxes have shown that dogs talk more when they’re around people and have also developed their own ways of talking. 1
Dogs are very good at reading what people are thinking and feeling, and they can change how they sound to tell people exactly what they want or how they’re feeling. People have learned to understand these verbal cues from dogs. In studies where people listened to recordings of dogs barking in different situations, they were able to correctly figure out how the dogs felt. 1
One of the most common and well-known sounds that dogs make is barking (others include whining and growling). The bark of a dog is different for each breed and each dog. Breeds like the shar-pei, chow chow, and basenji tend to bark less than other dogs. Hounds, on the other hand, have distinct barks that are unique to their breed, even if the barks of different hounds can be different.
Why do dogs bark? What are they trying to say?
A dog will bark when it wants to play, when it’s bored or anxious, when it wants to say hello, when it’s scared, or when it wants to go outside or come inside. It will also bark when it wants to go outside or come inside. When they’re excited about something, like a walk or a ride in the car, they may bark.
Some dogs bark when they don’t know what something is or when they want your attention. Dogs may also bark at things that you can’t see, smell, or hear. When you live with a dog, you can learn what its different barks mean and how to meet its needs better.
Signs That Barking is a Problem
Even though dogs are uniquely suited to living with people and have learned ways to “talk” to their owners, these ways of communication can sometimes fail. Often, the dog is trying to tell you something, but you don’t get the message or don’t understand what it means. In these situations, people might say that a dog’s barking is “too much” or “not necessary,” but from the dog’s point of view, it is very important.
For example, if a dog that is left alone in a yard all day barks nonstop, this could mean that the dog is bored and lonely and that the situation needs to be changed for the dog’s health. Other things that make dogs bark are:
- Excessive responses to stimuli, like people walking by or birds in the yard
If your dog’s behaviour has changed and he or she is barking more than usual, at odd times or in the wrong places, or if the sound of your dog’s bark has changed, take your dog to a vet first to make sure there isn’t a medical cause. If there aren’t any physical reasons for the dog to bark, you can also talk to your vet about ways to stop it, as long as the methods they suggest don’t involve force and don’t punish or hurt the dog.
How to Stop a Dog from Barking
You should never try to make a dog stop barking because it’s an important part of how they communicate. If you don’t let your dog bark, it will get upset, which will hurt its happiness and well-being. Instead, if your dog’s barking is bothering you, your family, or your neighbours, try these steps to help your dog bark less in some situations.
- Find out what’s making the dog bark. Is it when the mailman comes to the door or when the dog is left alone? Write down the times of day and situations that make your dog bark.
- Once you know what makes the dog bark, you can try to replace it with a different behaviour. If the barking is coming from the front door, teach your dog to go to a mat and sit when the doorbell rings in exchange for a treat. If your dog doesn’t want food as a reward, a fun toy can also work.
- If your dog barks to get your attention, try to teach it to do other things, like touch you with its nose or look at you. Always praise and reward your dog when he does the things you want him to do instead of barking.
- Don’t leave your dog outside for a long time without watching it. If your dog is barking because it’s lonely, try changing your schedule so you can spend more time at home. You could also look into doggie daycare, play dates, and house sitting so your dog doesn’t have to be alone as much.
- Make sure your dog gets a lot of exercise and fun things to do so it can keep its body and mind active. There are a lot of fun food puzzles and toys that could keep your dog busy when you’re not around.
Don’t use any of these:
- Hitting, yelling, or throwing things
- Shock, citronella, or other “bark” collars
- Prong or choke collars
With these techniques, you punish the dog when it does something you don’t want it to do. This makes the dog think that barking is bad because it makes you feel bad or hurts. There are a lot of problems with these methods, like making your dog scared and possibly aggressive and weakening the bond between you and your dog, so your dog won’t trust you. Most of the time, these methods don’t actually solve the problem because your dog just learns not to do the bad thing when you’re around, but not what to do instead.
When a dog barks out of fear or anxiety, including separation anxiety, the problem may need to be fixed by a vet. If you are having trouble getting your dog to stop barking, it can be very helpful to work with a professional trainer. Just make sure they only use positive reinforcement and no force when training your dog. Never use a trainer who hurts or scares your dog or makes it feel bad.