Learning why your dog communicates at certain times and not others is fundamental before you can train your dog not to bark excessively. Barking is one form of expression dogs use with other dogs and with humans. Like children, dogs make noise when they’re playing outside. And of course everyone knows that dogs of all sizes bark as a warning or greeting when there’s someone at the door or if something is wrong. The problem begins when your dog barks continually or for long periods of time and when this occurs you must determine the specific cause or reason for this behavior. Not addressing the problem will result in complaints from the neighbors and even complaints to the police resulting in citations and fines.
If you are consistent in training, dogs will understand what you’re asking of them. Most dogs are intelligent and want to learn but some learn faster than others so be patient. Depending on the breed or level of socialization, you may have more stubbornness to contend with. Also, many dogs are very possessive of their owners and want to guard their home so they will bark to sound the warning to potential threats. On the flip side, your dog’s natural friendliness may bring about barking as a way to get attention.
Early Dog Communication
Dogs express themselves in a variety of ways to communicate. As puppies, they make grunting noises to communicate with litter mates and mother. When they are frustrated, afraid, or hurting they employ a high-pitched crying. If hungry or cold they’ll make soft whining or whimpering sounds. Lastly, puppies will use continual yelping or high-pitched barking to get your attention when they are shut in a crate and want to be let out. A single yelp or bark is normal if they get stepped on, stung by a bee, or startled.
As your dog gets older, he will use more forms of communication
Whining – useful in getting an owner’s attention or to show submissiveness to other dogs.
Whimpering – not often used by adult dogs unless they are abused, cold, hurt, or very frustrated or afraid.
Howling or Baying – some breeds howl to communicate over long distances. Hunting breeds often bay to signal each other that they are following the scent of the prey. When not hunting, these same dogs will respond to sirens or certain music by howling or baying.
Growling – usually associated with aggression, dominance, and possessiveness. Other signs of defense and warning are a stationary posture, tail not wagging, raised hackles and curled up lip showing fangs. However, short, growls accompanied by huffs and snorts usually mean the dog is excited and wants to play. You’ll notice this type of growling is accompanied by tail wagging, lots of movement, and even the bringing of a toy.
Barking – normal way a good watchdog tells his owner that something is different. The bark may sound different depending upon how the dog interprets the “different-ness” – if someone he knows and likes is coming, he may have a happy bark whereas if someone he doesn’t know or doesn’t like is coming, he may have a warning bark. Barking can also be used to get attention or show excitement or signify loneliness.
Why Does Your Dog Bark Too Much?
Continual barking or barking for periods of time throughout the day and night disturbs both the owner and his neighbors. After a while it becomes stressful as well as annoying. Excessive barking is most often caused by nervousness, separation anxiety, fear or distress. As the dog becomes more upset, lonely or anxious, his barking becomes more insistent and louder. Putting your dog outside alone, putting him in his kennel/cage, or leaving him home alone may make him feel he is being abandoned. He is afraid you will never return. This triggers his barking.
Are You Providing Enough Stimulation for Your Dog?
Dogs love excitement and activity and young dogs use their extra energy to play hard and often. A boring environment that offers no stimulation often creates a bored barker who uses barking as a means of releasing excess energy. Leaving your dog alone for long periods of time is asking for trouble. He will likely resort to barking whenever (and for however long) he is left alone. If nobody is home during the day, your dog will be anxious to get attention. He will bark any time he thinks anyone is close by and he will become very insistent and loud. Barking in these situations becomes a hobby.
Giving your dog activities that occupy his mind and body will help him use his energy and his problem solving skills. This will create a dog who is content to lie quietly or sleep when he has to be alone. Dogs enjoy hide-and-seek, fetch, and other activities. However, the excitement of playing games may bring on bouts of “excited barking.”
Controlling Your Dog’s Barking – 10 Tips
MOST IMPORTANT – Get your dog plenty of exercise, play games with him and take him for walks. New smells and sights and plenty of running and jumping will keep him from being bored. If you play with him and walk him at specific times each day, he will look forward to those times which will make him more compliant at other times.
Teach your dog new things. Obedience training in a group setting helps your dog to learn to concentrate on what you are saying and obey you. Agility training is fun and tiring for many dogs. Learning tricks is a great way for your dog to show off and get attention.
Start socializing and training early. Younger dogs are easier to train than older dogs.
Teach your dog to bark on command. Use the words ‘speak’ or ‘talk” whenever he barks. He will learn to link that word with barking and when he is permitted to bark.
Train your dog to follow commands like ‘stop’ or ‘quiet.’ Whenever your dog barks out of control, use ‘stop’ or ‘quiet’ in a firm voice.
Give your dog a small treat as a reward. When your dog quits barking when he is told ‘stop’ or ‘quiet’. This can be used anywhere and in any appropriate situation.
Get your dog’s attention (if he is ignoring you) by making a loud, sudden noise like slamming a book on a table or shaking a can of rocks or marbles.
Train your dog to stay home alone without barking. Try leaving him for a few minutes at a time. Do not go out of earshot the first few times. If he barks, go back and tell him ‘stop’ or ‘quiet.’ If he stays quiet, praise him when you return. Gradually lengthen the amount of time you are gone.
Try leaving the TV or radio turned on when you are away from home. This will give your dog the idea that someone is there.
Cover the window or door to limit his access if looking out a window or door which stimulates him to bark.
Now that you know how your dog communicates and can tell when he’s excessively barking, you can now use positive training methods to learn to control your dog’s barking. I hope you have enjoyed this information and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below and I’ll do my best to reply within a couple of days.