Owning a dog that barks frequently can be highly frustrating. Not only to you as their owner, but also your neighbours and those that come into contact with your pooch regularly. Unwanted and unnecessary barking behaviour is something you will want to nip in the bud straight away before it becomes too out of control. Check out below some of our great tips and actions to stop dog barking & you can take to a peaceful and ‘bark-free’ life!
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Reasons for barking and identifying the cause
There are many reasons why dogs bark. It isn’t always as straight forward as concluding that your pooch is just misbehaving. There are usually some really good reasons for barking behaviour and once you understand the root cause you are very likely to be able to come to a solution.
Some of the most common reasons for dogs barking include:
- Illness, disease and pain
- Seeking attention
- Separation anxiety
- A lack of proper training
- A lack of exercise
There are likely to be other reasons that I’m sure that you can add to the list from your own experience.
It is unlikely you will be able to rectify the situation unless you know exactly why your dog exhibits this type of behaviour. It’s very easy for us to just complain or write off the behaviour, but never actually get to the bottom of the behaviour in question.
Delving a little deeper into the root cause and what triggers this type of behaviour from your dog can be a great starting point to understand how best to deal with the situation at hand.
So how can I stop my dog from barking?
Let’s take a look at some of the best actions you can take to stop dog barking. The actions you take will usually depend on the actual trigger itself however what may work well for one pooch may not work well for another and you may have to adapt to fit certain personalities. Trial and error is key.
Ruling out health issues
One of the very first things you should do is to rule out any health issues. This may seem like a very drastic first step, but it will give you complete peace of mind that your dogs barking behaviour is not directly associated with illness, pain and injury. It’s so easy to determine barking as a naughty behaviour however it is always possible that this could be down to underlying health issues that you are not aware of. Your dog may genuinely be in pain.
It’s always best to get the all-clear from a qualified vet to rule out anything nasty. This is especially true if your dog barks excessively.
Barking is a very natural behaviour for our canine friends, however excessive amounts of barking for prolonged periods is most definitely not and would be considered cause for concern. According to the IKC (Irish Kennel Club), government legislation for dog owners states that “Excessive dog barking that causes a nuisance is also an offence under Noise Regulations”.
Training from an early age
There’s no doubt about it, proper training from an early age puts boundaries in place for your dog and sets them up well for adult life. We often hear how important proper training is for dogs and we can’t emphasize this enough. It is always best to iron out bad behaviours from a young age so they don’t become a habit. Habits that are often very difficult to reverse.
There are many different types of training for your dog, but one of the best for combating unwanted barking behaviour is command training. Teaching your pooch some basic hand commands coupled with vocal commands is usually pretty straight forward for our canine friends to pick up. Dogs are such intelligent creatures and although there are some exceptions to the rule, most will find command training interesting and fun.
Just like the ‘Stay’, ‘Heel’ and ‘Sit’ commands you will find the ‘Stop’ command very useful in teaching your pooch to stop dog barking unnecessarily. Teaching commands is always best done through a praise and reward system. Once your dog cottons on to the game that every time you give them the signal they will receive a reward for not barking you may have just found yourself a much more peaceful life. Check out this great video from Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution showing you not only how to stop dog barking on command, but also how to ask your dog TO bark on command!
On a side note, teaching your dog to ‘recall’ successfully can also be very helpful. For example, if your dog runs off in the park and starts barking at birds or other animals.
Activity and mental stimulation
Our canine friends often require a fair amount of exercise and mental stimulation to stop them from going stir crazy. This will however largely depend on your dog’s breed and size. Some pooches just have far too much energy for their own good and don’t know what to do with all the pent up energy inside them. This can often result in bad behaviours such as unnecessary barking.
If you think that a lack of exercise or mental stimulation may be the cause for your dogs barking then taking your dog on that extra-long walk or dedicating some more one to one playtime may be the answer to both your prayers. Try to take your pooch on at least a couple of medium to long walks a day and if you have a back yard or garden try to give your dog as much free access as you can (doggy doors are a great invention!).
Introduce lots of exciting and fun toys that will keep your dog fully engaged and focussed both at home and whilst out for walks. There are plenty of boredom-busting dog toys on the market such as puzzle toys and dog chews that will keep your pooch occupied for hours, both assisted and unassisted.
It’s true to say that some dogs are just plain old attention seekers. They bark when you don’t play with them, they bark when you leave the house and they may even bark when they feel they deserve a treat. This may seem cute to begin with but will take its toll on you (the owner) after a while. Attention seeking barking is not acceptable and you should not under any circumstances buy into it. If you do, you can count on this behaviour getting worse over time.
One of the best things you can do when your pooch is barking for attention is to completely ignore it. Don’t interact with your dog at all verbally or physically. According to the Blue Cross it is important that you do not react to your dogs barking behaviour with attention or noise. Essentially by doing so, you will be rewarding your pooch for bad behaviour.
As an example, if you know your pooch normally starts barking when you leave the house without them, but on this occasion have not done so, then this is a time when a reward has been well earned. This can be a wonderful solution to solving excessive barking and can make your life a lot more peaceful too!
Separation anxiety is a real thing when it comes to our canine friends. Many dogs suffer from this condition when being left on their own for long periods which can cause much stress to both themselves, their owners and the neighbours who must listen to their continual barking. Certain breeds such as Labradors and Border collie’s find being on their own difficult since boredom kicks in so quickly. There are also many breeds of dogs that live for human and animal interaction and often experience separation anxiety when left on their own without company. This can often result in unwanted barking behaviour.
There are few keys way in which you can help a dog that suffers from separation anxiety and thus reduce the level of barking:
- Provide plenty of toys and games that your pooch can play with self sufficiently
- Make sure your dog receives plenty of exercise to tire them out
- Take on a companion animal to keep your pooch company (such as another dog for them to play with)
Remove your dog from outside triggers
Many dogs that feel the need to bark excessively at what we would class as ‘outside triggers’. This could be as simple as someone passing by outside the window or the postman at the front door. One of the best things you can do to eliminate this type of barking is to provide your pooch with their own space in the house which is quiet, peaceful and a place they can call their own away from the big wide world. A place where there are no distractions or outside triggers which will cause them to bark. Closing curtains can also be helpful.
In conclusion, there are a variety of ways you can stop dog barking. Ruling out any health issues in the early stages is a good starting point to ensure your dogs barking behaviour is not pain or illness related.
Try to determine the root cause or triggers that initiate your dogs barking. This will allow you to decide on a solution much more easily and effectively manage the behaviour. This could be providing the dog that is bored with more exercise and stimulation, ignoring the attention seeking pooch or providing some extra comfort and security for those canines that suffer when being on their own or find outside triggers stressful.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to start training your dog from an early age. Dogs are usually much easier to train in their younger years and prevention is always much better than cure.
Tips to stop dog barking
- One of the very first things you should do is to rule out any health issues for your dog.
- Start training from early age.
- Keep busy your dog with various activities and mental stimulation.
- When your dog start barking keep ignoring and when stop treat them with praise.
- Remove your dog from outside triggers.