You’re enjoying a quiet day and trying to recover from the week’s stress. But suddenly, your dog starts barking like crazy for no apparent reason. It’s stressful when dogs bark excessively, but there are reasons for it.
When dogs bark excessively, it is usually done out of fear, boredom, loneliness, or a desire for attention. Some dogs also react to specific triggers that set off territorial behavior. Different techniques can be used to stop that behavior depending on the reason for the excessive barking.
Barking is part of the way dogs communicate with people and other dogs. It’s just part of having a dog. Unnecessary, extreme barking, however, is not part of it.
However, there are usually good reasons for a dog to bark excessively, and there are ways to break the habit.
In this article, we discuss the reasons dogs bark in the first place and the most common reasons for excessive barking.
We’ll also explain how to break your dog from excessive barking if it becomes a nuisance.
Why Do Dogs Bark in the First Place?
Dogs bark because this is how they communicate with their fellow dogs and also with us humans.
Just as some people have a more vital need to talk, some dogs are more communicative than others.
It is essential to realize that the goal cannot be to break your dog’s barking habit completely. That won’t work and wouldn’t be species-appropriate.
However, if your dog is barking excessively to the point that it is becoming disruptive, the goal should be to stop it and reduce the barking to a reasonable level.
Talkativeness is a fine thing when it does not affect your health or that of your neighbors. However, excessive barking can be extremely nerve-wracking for everyone in the neighborhood.
When a dog barks, he is trying to tell you something. And he needs to be able to do that.
Some dogs will bark to announce the arrival of people on their property, which can make perfect sense. Others bark when they need to go outside to the bathroom, which is also helpful.
The last thing you should do is stop the barking completely. Because then you’ll have other problems on your hands.
As with most things in life, it’s about balance. It’s about the dog barking at an average level.
The Most Common Reasons for Barking in Dogs
Dogs can’t just talk to us. It sure would make life easier if they could.
You can think of your dog as a newborn baby. Babies cry when hungry, want attention, are sick, or are scared.
Babies can’t tell their parents what their problem is. They can only communicate through sounds. And with dogs, that sound is barking.
So, barking can have different reasons, just like with babies. Let’s take a closer look at the most common reasons for barking.
A wagging tail and a wiggling butt usually accompany excited barking. Spinning in circles and tapping paws are also signs of excitement.
Dogs usually look alert and content during barking and hold their ears high. Packs of dogs also bark and howl when they are excited. It is your dog’s way of saying that he is happy.
A good example of excited barking is when you come home after work or are preparing to take your dog for a walk.
This type of barking lasts a minute or two at most or until the desired result occurs. So, for example, when you give your dog the attention you want or take him for a walk.
This type of barking is rarely a problem because it is normal and of short duration.
Barking is a dog’s way of communicating. The bark is usually short, sharp, and monotonous when your dog barks to attract attention.
The dog pauses between each bark to give you a chance to respond. The dog’s body language is relaxed, with a slow wagging or stiff tail and natural ear posture.
Dogs bark this way, for example, when they want to be petted or go to the bathroom outside. This type of barking can become problematic depending on why they want attention and whether you give it to them.
For example, if the dog is barking because they need to pee, that is reasonable, and you should pay attention to it.
However, if your dog barks because he wants a treat, and then you give him a treat, you are rewarding his behavior. And you can be sure that he will do it again and again.
Fear Or Loneliness
Barking out of fear or loneliness is common in dogs that are bored and anxious at home while their family is out working all day.
You may not notice this problem until your neighbor brings it to your attention.
For yourself, it may not be a problem, but for your neighbors, it can become a big problem that you should solve quickly. With this barking, your dog calls out to anyone who can hear him because he seeks comfort.
When dogs bark out of fear or loneliness, it can be a constant, loud bark that continues throughout the day. However, some dogs also howl. And some mix the barking and the howling.
Fearful dogs often droop their ears and tails and generally look restless. Trembling is also common in very anxious dogs.
This barking is a defensive type of barking that is usually triggered by a stimulus.
Dogs bark this way when a stranger or animal approaches your home or family or does something else the dog doesn’t like.
However, it can also be a reaction to loud noises or sounds he has never heard before. This is your dog’s warning to be prepared for this potential problem.
Fearful barking is more profound and louder and usually continues until the stimulus is removed. Aggressive growling can also occur when the dog is fearful or unsure of the stimulus.
The dog’s unsure body language usually includes a low head posture, raised hackles, and a tail tucked between the legs.
When dogs bark solely out of territorial behavior, they usually raise their head and tail. This makes them appear larger and more robust.
A growl and bared teeth indicate that they are ready to bite and that whoever bothers them should back off.
Their bark is likely loud and proud, acting like the alpha male. This is problematic if dogs are constantly territorial.
Barking due to boredom is one of the most common reasons dogs bark. When a dog is mentally or physically underutilized, he barks or howls. This is his way of sighing or letting us know that he has had enough of being bored.
This type of barking is straightforward to correct. The whole trick is that a tired dog is a contented dog.
Excessive barking due to boredom is usually the precursor to problematic behavior. Therefore, you should address it.
Some dogs bark, while others growl rather than bark. Again, the point is that the dog is seeking your attention and wants to play with you.
The barking or growling is short, with pauses in between so you can respond to him. If the dog is bored or likes to howl, he may howl in these situations.
To make it clear, some dogs carry their toys over to you. And some dogs bow, meaning they hold their front legs down and their butt up in the air to show they are ready to play.
This is another common cause of excessive, annoying barking, which is always triggered by a stimulus.
For example, your dog might bark at a cat sitting in a tree in your yard. Or he might bark at someone walking by the house.
This shows that he is unsure how to handle this situation or that he wants to explore the situation further.
The trigger can also be a sound that the dog does not like, such as a siren. It can also be something that disturbs him, such as the loud vacuum cleaner.
Reactive barking is loud and persistent and usually does not stop until the trigger is gone.
It is similar to fear and territorial barking, but not necessarily because he wants to protect you or feels anxious. He may also think it’s a game and wants to join in.
Barking in pain usually occurs during play or fighting, resulting from pain or shock at what happened.
When your dog is in pain, he does everything he can to let you know.
This is his way of yelling, asking for help, or telling the other dog or human to stop what he is doing.
This barking is typical in puppies learning to play. They often test how hard they can bite their littermates without hurting them while playing.
You can usually distinguish this barking from all other types of barking because it sounds like pain. The barking sounds high-pitched or like a whimper.
This barking usually stops after a few times. However, if your dog continues to bark in pain, you should take him to the vet, as he may have injured himself more seriously.
How to Stop Dogs from Excessive Barking
If you want to curb your dog’s excessive barking, there is good news: You can take steps to address any barking.
Most of the steps to correct the behavior are very similar. You can do them in a way that doesn’t upset your dog and doesn’t create distrust between the two of you.
For the different reasons for excessive barking, let’s look at how to stop it before it gets out of control.
Correcting Barking Out of Boredom
When your dog barks out of boredom, he needs more stimulation. This includes dog toys, chew sticks, interactive games, and exercise.
Many dog owners think they can save exercise with their dog after they get home as a highlight to look forward to later.
But your dog’s brain doesn’t work that way. Instead, tire him out before you leave, not after you return. That way, he’ll have already burned off his excess energy and have less energy to bark.
Of course, this isn’t easy if you work all day and are not there. Still, it would be best if you changed something in your daily routine to get a handle on the problem.
Is it possible to work from home or vary your hours? Or perhaps you could ask a friend or neighbor to play with your dog for a while?
If not, hire a dog sitter or take your dog to doggy daycare. Otherwise, the problem will not be solved.
Correcting Attention-Seeking Barking
Correcting this type of barking is one of the most straightforward tasks. However, it is also usually the one people struggle with the most.
The trick is to ignore the dog. Many dog owners find this difficult because they feel bad about ignoring their barking dog.
But whether he’s barking to ask you to play or barking because he wants a treat, the same treatment is needed in all cases: ignore your dog’s barking.
Negative attention, such as a warning to be quiet, is still attention. So, ignore the dog until he is quiet.
Otherwise, reward him for barking even though you want him to stop. If your dog doesn’t need to go to the bathroom or get water, wait until he is quiet.
Once he has shown you that he can be quiet, reward him by giving him attention or a treat.
The trick to this type of correction is consistency and a strong will. It would help if you showed your dog that he will be rewarded when he is quiet, not barking.
This may take a while, primarily if he is used to you coming to him when he barks. If it still doesn’t work after a while, try to keep him busy with something, like a toy.
And reward him with attention when he plays with the toy instead of barking.
Correcting Reactive Barking
Reactive barking is one of the most challenging problems to correct because it is usually your dog’s natural reaction to something.
As before, you must be consistent and have a stronger will than your dog.
As stated before, reactive barking always starts with a stimulus. Therefore, you must first figure out the stimulus.
For example, say your dog barks at passersby while sitting by the window.
You can’t stop passersby from walking by your house, but you can install a blind or curtains to block your dog’s view. Remove the stimulus, and you should stop the barking.
If your dog barks at the annoying cat in the tree, call him into the house as soon as he starts barking. It sounds simple, but you must act quickly to achieve the desired effect.
If your dog barks at visitors, the mailman, or the doorbell, you need to remember that you don’t want to break him of the barking habit altogether.
Ideally, your dog should bark once to alert you and then back off so you can care for him.
So, let your dog bark once and immediately go to the door to tell him you heard him. Once you have done this, instruct your dog to stop barking.
Correcting Barking Out of Fear Or Loneliness
The most important tip is to leave your dog alone for short periods, even in puppyhood. Otherwise, he will become dependent on your constant company.
Start with 15 minutes and gradually increase this time until you can leave your puppy alone for a few hours.
The leading cause of separation anxiety is that your puppy has never left your side, and it can be challenging to correct this later.
However, this is no help if you are trying to correct excessive lonely barking when your dog is older. But this problem can also be solved.
This problem is also related to boredom when you are not there. So always spend your dog vigorously before you leave so he is tired.
Leave him with toys to keep him busy. In most cases, this can solve the problem completely.
Your dog is probably anxious because you’re not there if it doesn’t. Invest in a dog crate and take the time to train him with the crate.
Once he gets used to the box, reward him every time he relaxes and is calm when he’s inside.
It would be best to consider hiring a dog sitter to walk your dog while you are away. Or, drop him off at a doggie daycare.
Even if this is only a few times a week and not every day, he is less likely to get bored and bark all day.
You can also try a familiar sound to calm him, such as the radio or TV.
Correcting Anxious Barking
It’s often difficult to get a dog to stop his natural reaction. But it’s not impossible.
And if you manage to change your dog’s mindset, you can be sure that your life and your dog’s life will improve tremendously.
Correcting fearful barking takes time and patience. Never scold a dog when fearful, as this will only worsen matters.
Sometimes, the dog doesn’t bark out of fear. Instead, he may bark at something he once feared because he is used to barking.
For example, if your dog fears the vacuum cleaner, leave it in the room. Let your dog sniff it and explore it for a few days.
Reward him when he approaches the unit. Then turn it on, leave it, and let him investigate the vacuum cleaner again.
Your dog will probably bark at this point. Then, try to distract him. Try to make interacting with the feared stimulus as positive as possible.
This approach slowly desensitizes him and makes him realize there is no reason to be afraid.
Sometimes, things are scary, even to a dog, for no reason. Many people cannot convince themselves that house spiders or the dark are not a reason to be afraid.
The same goes for dogs and their seemingly strange phobias. Avoid it if you can’t convince him that the stimulus isn’t scary.
If that’s not possible, talk to a qualified dog trainer.
What Not to Do With an Excessive Yapper
Now that we’ve discussed what you can do about excessive, disruptive barking, let’s discuss what you should avoid at all costs.
Doing any of the following things will make the situation worse and cause more barking. Not only do you need to educate your dog, but you also need to keep yourself under control.
Yelling at Your Dog
This is dog owners’ most common mistake when trying to stop excessive barking.
You would think a barking dog would stop if you reprimanded him, but that is untrue. Dogs’ brains work differently.
Remember that your dog cannot understand what you are saying. And he will think you are yelling along with him, making him believe that his loud barking is acceptable.
Positive reinforcement is a much more effective way to teach better habits than punishment. So ignore the barking and reward the dog when calm and relaxed.
Never yell or scold your dog for barking.
Praise Your Dog
Another mistake dog owners make is praising their dogs for barking. This is an absolute no-no.
He sees it as praise when you pet your dog to comfort him. It does not comfort him in any way. Instead, it encourages him to keep barking.
Instead, you should ignore him. Or, teach him the “quiet” or “off” command or use redirection techniques.
Valuable Tips for Strong Barkers
Below are some other tips and tricks that might be useful for you and your dog to avoid excessive barking.
They can work independently but are often more effective if you use them in addition to the training methods above.
All dogs are creatures of habit. If you learned that your dog barks when you are away, try distracting or calming him with a familiar sound.
Sometimes, the silence drives dogs crazy, not the loneliness. Try turning on the radio or TV before you leave.
Human voices and soothing music may relieve the dog’s tension and reduce barking.
Also, it would be best to turn on the radio when you are there so the dog gets used to it. The familiar sound can then calm him down when you are not there.
Some dog owners also have success with a dog monitor. This monitoring system in your home allows you to interact with your dog while you are away. Some of these systems even give out treats.
Remember to only talk to your dog when he is relaxed and calm. Otherwise, he will bark until he hears your voice.
Using noise correction techniques is helpful for dog owners who cannot distract their dogs or redirect the barking.
If the dog completely ignores you despite your commands or voice, you need something to distract him. It needs to be something other than your voice and something that startles him so he can’t ignore it.
Find something with a loud, startling noise, such as a tin can filled with coins or a horn.
Make the noise sound as soon as your dog barks. The noise will interrupt your dog’s barking.
Then, when your dog looks at you, you can command “quiet” or “off” and reward him when he obeys your command.
If you have tried all of the above measures and your dog still can’t get his excessive barking under control, you should call in an expert.
Sometimes, the cause of excessive barking is so deep-rooted that it takes someone with extensive knowledge and training to correct the problem.
If you can’t find the reason for your dog’s barking, there’s also a chance a medical problem like dementia causes it.
Whatever the reason for your dog’s annoying, excessive barking, it’s always helpful to consult an expert.
Bringing in a certified dog trainer is the best thing you can do for your dog and everyone’s quality of life. When looking for a trainer, make sure you do your research.
And only work with a trainer who uses positive reinforcement-based training and has verifiable qualifications.
Summary: Why Dogs Bark Excessively
Excessive barking can be very disruptive and drive everyone involved crazy. If you can figure out what’s causing it, there are ways to stop it.
There are several ways you can do this. Some involve simple behavioral changes, while others involve methods that require time and patience.
If you use one or more of these techniques, you can be sure your dog’s disruptive barking will eventually stop.
Disturbing barking is annoying and affects your and your dog’s quality of life. And also that of all the other people around you.
So it’s worth the time and effort to solve the problem.