Why dogs bark and how to minimise it?

Why dogs bark and how to stop it

Dogs bark, they do it for several reasons and you can’t expect your dog to not bark, it’s like expecting you to not speak, like at all! It’s natural for dogs to bark, however, it’s nuisance for their owners and even their neighbours, so how to make your dog stop barking? (or at least minimise it)

Why does my dog bark?

A question rather common among most dog owners! Barking is the equivalent of talking for dogs. If you know why your dog is barking that helps you work out what to do to stop it. They bark for many reasons:

  • Territorial: this is usually a natural response or a reaction to other strangers whether it’s humans or animals (not just dogs) trespassing or crossing an area your dog considers his own territory.
  • Protection: considered as the first reason for dog barking, this is usually mixed with territorial barking as they have so many common criteria.
  • Hyperattention: (Or alarm barking). Some dogs have an attention issue and they bark at anything that catches their attention suddenly.
  • Attention: If you have an attention seeker, they’ll most likely be barking a lot to grab your attention or another animal’s attention.
  • Boredom: Dogs are pack animals who like the company. If your dog is alone most of the day or locked in an apartment, expect a lot of barking as your dog is likely to be bored.
  • Anxiety: yes, dogs get anxious too. Separation anxiety is the most common form of dog anxiety and can make your dog bark a lot. other symptoms that accompany anxiety are destructiveness and pacing.
  • Social Barking: this type of barking usually happens in neighborhoods where your dog will bark when hearing other dogs bark, even from far away.
  • Illness: YES, injury or internal illness can cause excessive and annoying barking for dogs.

How to stop your dog barking?

Stopping your dog from barking is not an easy task. In most cases, it’s a behaviour that needs correcting which takes time to correct

  1. First you need to find out why your dog is barking by comparing the previously mentioned reasons with your dog’s mental and physical state. Consider his activity, where he usually goes if he is an outdoor dog, other animals in the household or nearby neighbours. When does he bark? What is triggering it?
  2. Try to walk your dog longer and more frequently. This will allow him to have more playtime and let him relax a little more, especially if you’re the kind of person who gets caught up with life all day long.
  3. Socialise your dog. A dog who had time to experience different people (people in wheelchairs, cars, bikes, runners, workers…etc.) will most likely feel safe around them again and will less likely bark at them.
  4. Buy your dog toys and puzzles to keep him occupied. Dogs think and get bored too, so help keep them occupied.
  5. If you’re out at work for most of the day try to leave the tv or the radio on, preferably on a channel that you watch a lot, this will give your dog a sense of familiarity.
  6. Close the curtains in rooms you don’t need to prevent your dog from looking at people or cars passing by, at least until he’s familiar with them
  7. Don’t forget the teach your dog to be calm. Use a calm firm voice to teach your dog the “quiet command” and positively reward good behaviour with treats or belly rubs and this will stop a dog from barking.
  8. Do not shout at your dog when he is barking as this will only stimulate him to bark even more!
  9. Never yell “shut up” at your dog and never use different commands. A good way to stop a dog from barking is by using the same command which is “Quiet”,  so your dog will always be familiar with the command and won’t get confused.
  10. A barking dog is an energetic dog. if your dog barks a lot he might be a hyperactive dog that needs more physical activities.
  11. Spend more time with your dog outside and exposure them to various experiences and noises so they understand it is OK not to be afraid. 
  12. Do not reward your dog for barking. If your dog barks when he needs water or food, don’t give him that until he responds to the quite command, otherwise, you will be rewarding the negative behaviour.
  13. Do not use muzzles or other products to stop a dog from barking, they can hurt your dog.

Barking is normal for dogs however your goal should be to minimise excessive barking. It’s a behaviour that can be corrected following a set of tricks and tips, however, never punish your dog for barking, it will only make him confused, instead reward him when he gets quiet.