Why Is Your Dog Barking and the Best Ways to Stop It 

It can be one of the most frustrating things when your dog just won’t stop barking. Why do dogs bark? If you've been wondering why, and what you can do about problem barking, we are going to cover it all right here. From how to stop a dog from barking when they are bored to how to stop anxiety barking, we shall show you the right tools and training to help you establish effective methods that suit your trusty (yet loud) companion.

 

Reasons Why Your Dog Keeps Barking

While barking is normal behaviour for dogs, as it helps them communicate with other dogs and their human owners, when dogs bark excessively, this can indicate an underlying issue. Dogs bark for a number of reasons, so it's important to work out why your dog is barking excessively. Some of the main reasons for excessive barking include:

Attention-Seeking Barking Behaviour

Dogs can bark when trying to call out to their owner or if they are left alone for long periods of time.  Remember that dogs are social animals and they don’t like to spend long periods of time alone.

Territorial Barking Behaviour

It's natural for your dog to want to warn their owners about potential intruders. Your dog might not be able to distinguish between visitors, people going past the home or the postman, and this may cause territorial behaviour like barking. 

Fear Barking

They may be afraid of people coming near their territory or may be fearful of certain noises. For example, fireworks, thunderstorms, or even the neighbour's lawn mower can instigate a fear response. 

 

Being Anxious When on Their Own - Anxiety Barking

Dogs are social creatures, so it's normal for them to feel anxious if they are left aloneFor some dogs, this anxiety can become severe and they may bark to let you know how anxious they are.

Compulsive Barking

Some dogs bark excessively in a repetitive way, which can be a learnt behaviour. It is often associated with moving in a repetitive way, such as circling or jumping. If your dog is continually barking when they run back and forth along a fence or pace around the house, this is an example of compulsive barking.

Social Situations

Your dog might bark when they see other people or dogs and are relaxed or happy. This is usually accompanied by a wagging tail and an excited demeanour. This is quite normal and acceptable.  However if your dog has its hackles raised and is not wagging its tail and is barking aggressively this is something that needs addressing.

Boredom Barking

Finally, dogs that are left alone all day with nothing to do can resort to excessive barking because they are unstimulated.This is often associated with attention seeking barking.

Excessive barking is not a healthy behaviour in dogs. If you can modify your dog’s barking behaviour, this will help control their impulses to bark and help maintain good relationships with your neighbours and people you meet when out and about with your dog.

 

The Key to Stopping your Dog Barking

The number one thing to remember is that barking is a response to something.  The key to preventing or reducing unwanted barking behaviour is to understand why they are barking  and identify the trigger that is causing the barking response. This is a very simple thing, but often overlooked. In some situations it may be hard to identify the trigger and you may need to discuss your dog’s behaviour with your vet or an animal behaviour expert.

 

How to Stop a Dog “Anxiety Barking”

Anxiety barking is, as the name suggests, caused by anxiety or fear, and usually happens when a dog sees or hears something that makes it anxious. This trigger could be a stranger, a vehicle, or even another dog. To stop this type of barking you need to identify this “trigger” or the source of their anxiety and either eliminate it or train the dog to accept it. When you are dealing with anxiety barking it's vital to avoid using devices that will increase the dog's level of stress or anxiety, such as shock collars. 

Instead, use dog-friendly methods that reinforce the sense of calm, such as a thundershirt, which works by placing constant pressure on the dog when they are anxious. Pressure has a calming effect on a dog’s nervous system, therefore relieving them of anxieties. Other stress solutions such as supplements, collars or diffusers may also help your dog to feel calm in these situations. The objective is to retrain your dog’s brain and modify it’s behaviour so that it is not alarmed by the trigger.

 

How to Stop a Dog Barking in a Kennel or Crate

Some of the most common methods involve putting a blanket over the kennel or just ignoring them, but these are not always the best approaches. While some dogs give up if their barking is ignored after some time, many don't give up so easily! Here are a few things that you may want to consider instead:

Consider the Location of the Kennel or Crate

Sometimes, moving the kennel or crate  closer to you can help. You can then work on gradually moving it away to wherever you need it to be. 

Making the Kennel or Crate a More Exciting Place to Be

You can give them  toys or a water bowl to keep them more occupied within the kennel or crate so they can stay there quietly and calmly. 

Build Up Their Tolerance

If you want your dog to feel more comfortable in a kennel or crate, the best way to do it is to start slowly. You can start by keeping them there for 60 seconds or less and depending on their response, you can leave them for a little bit longer. You can also adopt the method of interacting with them when they're quiet so you are reinforcing the reward system for being quiet.

 

How to Stop a Dog Barking When Outside

Crate training is a great way to ensure that, over time, your dog stops barking, but when your dog is outside, there can be a whole number of reasons they bark. It could be because they've already seen something they want to run after, but it can also be due to the fact that they are bored. Dogs can become more vocal in the backyard as there are many more sights and sounds, which is why you need to make sure that you have some tools and techniques up your sleeve:

Make Sure They Are Exercised and Entertained

Just because your dog is in the backyard doesn't mean that they will be able to occupy themselves. Ensuring that they are exercised properly for at least 60 minutes every day is important, but you can also make sure that they have enough interactive toys.  You may find a slow feeder  a good way to help occupy them and treat dispensers can also be very helpful

Reward Them for the Moments They Are Not Barking

Spending time in the yard when the dog is likely to bark means you can praise them for being quiet, and reward them accordingly with treats and high praise. 

Do Not Yell 

When a dog starts barking, we can make the mistake of yelling at them to be quiet, but the dog thinks they are getting more attention than when they were quiet, which reinforces the barking.

 

How to Stop a Dog Barking at Night

One of the most common reasons a dog can bark excessively at night is because of a sensitivity to external noises. Other dogs barking, sirens, or cars can all trigger your dog's ultra-sensitive hearing. Another reason could be if they have too much energy if they haven't had enough exercise during the day. In addition to minimising their boredom, you can try some of the following:

Finding a New Resting Spot

If they don't like their bed, this can contribute to some distress at night. A new bed away from their typical resting spot with some cosy blankets could help them feel calmer and relaxed. 

A Night-Time Routine

You could make a relaxing nighttime routine for your dog to help them calm down with shampoo grooming and quality time. 

Calming Aids

If your dog is particularly stressed, you could incorporate a chew with tryptophan to help them feel calmer during stressful times.

 

How to Stop a Dog Barking at Me

If you find your dog barking excessively at you, it's important that, as their owner, modify this behaviour. There are some effective ways for you to do this:

Meet Their Needs

This could include a number of approaches, including increasing their exercise time and giving them more toys. Because if we're not meeting their needs on the most basic level, this could be the main reason they are barking at us.

Remove Rewards

Some people reward their dogs every time they don't bark, but this might not work for you. Instead, when your dog barks at you, get up, leave the room, and shut the door, effectively giving them a “time-out.” Wait 30 seconds before returning and then ask them to sit or another well-known behaviour. But you now need to give them something to occupy them that is less exciting than what they were barking at you for. Bear in mind that this can make them more frustrated, but you can redirect your dog to something else after the mini time-out, such as a chewy treat.

 

General Dog Barking Training Tips

When modifying barking behaviour, there are a number of things that should bear in mind, including:

  • Reinforcing their obedience, especially if you’re not firm enough with your dogs. 

  • Being age-appropriate.  Barking will begin at around six to eight weeks old. The sound can be very quiet and can develop into a full-blown one by around 3 months old. Incorporating obedience training and recognising the triggers as soon as possible is crucial to ensure that your puppy is barking appropriately and not developing any bad habits.

  • Being consistent and patient

If home training is not working, it's important to remember that there are a few simple tweaks that can make all the difference:

  • Go slower and reward them for any success.

  • Control the environment to help your dog stay focused. 

  • Avoid punishment as this may increase their anxiety and trust in you. 

  • Make training part of their daily routine. 

  • Be consistent, especially if there are other members of the family trying to get the same results but are rewarding or training them in different ways.

  • Get some professional guidance from your veterinarian, local obedience club or accredited dog trainer.

 

Wrap Up

If you want to stop your dog from barking inappropriately, there are a number of approaches you can take. By modifying their behaviour and providing them with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation you can prevent your dog from barking excessively!

For more helpful tips, see our Puppy Training Guide, Dog Toys Guide and Best Dog Treats Guide to find out more about how to choose what's best for you and your dog'.