Understanding Why Dogs Bark
Dogs bark for the same reason that humans talk, sing, or write things down. It is a type of vocal communication. Some of the reasons why dogs bark include:
● Territorial or protective behavior: When people or animals enter into an area that your dog considers to be its territory, it may start to bark excessively. The closer the person, animal, or threat gets to your dog or to its territory, the louder the dog will bark. Protective or territorial barking is often accompanied by an aggressive posture. With its voice and stance, your dog is trying to scare off a potential threat.
● They’re afraid: Have you ever had a person startle you? How did you react? Jumped? Maybe let out a surprised shout? Dogs act in pretty much the same manner. If there is an object or a noise that startles them or grabs their attention, they may start to bark. Unlike territorial or protective barking, this fear-based barking can happen anywhere and anytime.
● They’re lonely: Dogs need companionship. They are pack animals. If they are by themselves for too long, either in the home or in the yard, they get sad. Barking is their way of expressing their unhappiness.
● They’re happy to see you and want to say hi!: Have you ever had a friend who is so excited to see you that they yell your name from across the room? This is how your dog feels every time you or a family member or guest enters the home. If you’ve been gone for a while, they’ve likely got a lot of pent-up energy to express as well.
● They’re seeking attention: Dogs are smarter than most people give them credit for. They pay attention to the way you react to things and then use this to their advantage. For example, if every time your dog barks, you react, it may be that your dog makes the connection between their barking and getting your attention. If they are hungry, want to go outside, or just want someone to pet them, they might bark.
● They have separation anxiety: Dogs show separation anxiety if they have been alone for too long. Some bark just to hear the sound of their own voice. People do the same thing. When people are in solitary confinement, they may start talking to themselves just to make the silence go away. Separation anxiety-related barking may be accompanied by repetitive actions, running in circles, running back and forth, and jumping over a fence, or compulsive digging.
First, we have to admit that we do not want our dogs to stop barking entirely. If there is danger, for example, we rely on our dogs to alert us. However, it is the incessant and needless barking that we are looking to address.
● Remove the reward for barking: First, you have to find out what your dog gets from barking. What is the reward? Once you figure that out, remove the reward. For example, if your dog is barking at a passerby, close the curtains, or put the dog in another room. If the dog is in the yard, bring it in the house. A good way to control uncontrolled barking is to keep your dog supervised. A dog left on their own day and night will continue to bark since no one is stopping them.
● Ignore it: If your dog is barking to get your attention, stop giving it that which it seeks. Even telling the dog "no" rewards the dog for being noisy with acknowledgement. Instead, wait until the dog stops barking, and then reward it for silence. This will require patience on your part as the pet owner, but the long-term benefit is well worth it.
● Desensitize your dog to stimulus: Little by little, get your dog accustomed to whatever it is that is causing it to bark. If it barks at other animals, try and exercise where you can have a friend with a dog or cat stand just out of sight to the point where your dog will not bark. Have your friend slowly move closer with their pet as you feed your dog treats. Then have your friend slowly walk away. Once your friend and their pet disappear, stop feeding your dog treats. Repeat this process until they can coexist with the other animal in harmony.
Training the bark out of your dog can be a long process. But if you are willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with peace and quiet both at home and on walks outdoors.
At Ancillary K9, we are experienced and caring dog trainers. We understand that your relationship with your pet improves the better trained it is. Ancillary K9 is a name that our clients trust when it comes to addressing excessive barking and other destructive behaviors.
In addition to training your dog, we will provide you with the tools to continue teaching your dog good, healthy behaviors long after you leave our facility. Contact us today, and let Ancillary K9 help you deepen the bond you have with your dog.