Why do dogs bark and how can you reduce unnecessary barking?
The persistent barking of your dog, or perhaps worse, a neighbour’s dog, can at the very least be an annoyance. If very loud and sustained over periods of time it can drive you to distraction.
So why does a dog bark and what can you do about it?
It would of course be unrealistic and unreasonable to expect your dog never to bark in the same way you would expect a child not to cry. A dog’s barking, along with whining and howling is one of its natural means of communication so you should not be looking to prevent them from this action completely. Instead you should be striving to control their behavior, building trust and confidence with your dog, so that they bark when it is appropriate for them to do so.
What triggers a dog to bark?
Some dogs are more predisposed to barking than others. According to Baxterboo Beagles and Yorkshire Terriers are amongst the biggest barkers where as Great Danes and Collies bark very little.
Of course environmental factors play a role in triggering a dog to bark. For example:
Being left alone and being bored
A lonely dog is often an unhappy and bored dog and one way for them to express their boredom is by barking.
Young, undisciplined dog
Much like a small baby a young dog knows no better and makes a range of different sounds including barking.
Warning of danger
If a dog senses danger one of their natural responses is to bark. This what makes dogs such good security guards!
Territorial behavior / About to attack
You often see dogs “mixing” with other dogs and sometimes their barks, coupled with their body movements are fierce, with owners (hopefully) restraining their own dogs on leads. This type of bark is one way a dog can protect its territory and also be a warning of attack.
Wanting to play
A nice bark is one when your dog bounds up to you with a stick in their mouth, drops the stick and barks once, it’s a fairly clear sign they want you to play with them
Tips to prevent a dog from barking
Dog barking should not normally be ignored. As we have shown above, dogs bark for a reason. Some of these are good, some acceptable, whilst others are of concern. All should be understood and appropriate action taken.
Be the boss
If your dog knows you are the boss they will more likely respond to your order to stop barking. There are a number of ways this can be done:
- Use a look
- Use a sound
- Use a physical correction
- Gently closing your dog’s mouth
By distracting your dog, you can stop them from barking for example with a toy or a game.
This is something you can do yourself if you have the time or alternatively seek professional help. There will likely be a dog training school or dog training professional near you. An internet search fill help you locate these. The DSPCA also training courses
A range of anti-bark training collars are available which can help correct a dogs persistent barking.
When you do you want your dog to bark
Clearly not all barking is bad and it would be both unnatural and we think a little unfair to prevent a dog from barking entirely. Spending time with your dog coupled with obedience training can help you help them learn to bark on command or at times when you really want them to.