Barking

Barking is communication, and a normal behavior for dogs. Dogs will bark for several reasons. Some dogs are naturally predisposed with behavioral characteristics such as excitability or watchdog barking. Excitable breeds unless trained early can become excessive barkers. Guarding breeds will naturally start to bark around the time of adolescence when people approach the property.

If you have a breed that is genetically predisposed with behavioral characteristics such as excitability or watchdog barking, you will not be completely successful in changing the dog's behavior unless you started with this dog at 8-weeks of age. By starting early you have a greater influence on your dog’s behavior as an adult.  Although you cannot change a dog’s character, you can change a dog's behavior to varying degrees. Since it is not appropriate to try and fix or correct normal, you need to learn to understand what purpose the barking serves and how to influence the behavior. If excessive barking is the result of boredom, fear, attention seeking or a learned behavior, you can affect change in the dog's behavior.

If barking is inappropriate or excessive you must determine why your dog is barking.

Barking is communication so you need to learn to listen in order to understand. When does the barking occur?  What is the context and circumstances when the barking occurs?  

Social Barking

  • Response to other dogs barking

  • In invite play

Attention seeking

  • This is often a learned behavior taught by owners

  • Owners will often shape the barking to be more intense and frequent.  Dogs often learn that they only get attention or let into the house with frequent and intense barking.

Excitement

  • Greeting

  • Play soliciting

  • Going out for walk or play

  • Frustration    

Territorial – protection of property

Protection - of others

Separation

Fears, Phobia, & Reactivity

Dogs can react by barking to specific sounds or any sound outside the home. Dogs will respond or react in differing ways to sounds. There is a big difference in responding and reacting. In this context responding is functional and reacting dysfunctional. We would prefer to hear a doctor say we are responding to the medication rather than reacting to the medication. 

If you have a dog that over-reacts to sounds there is guidance here on how to desensitize your dog to specific sounds. Soundtracks are a tool to help desensitize dogs to noises that result in fearful reactions, agitated reactions, or highly excitable reactions. Guidance can be found here: Fears, Phobias & Reactivity

Fearful - Barking at People

Learned Barking

Is barking worst when owners are home?

Owners will often shape the barking to be more intense and frequent.  Dogs often learn that they only get attention or let into the house with frequent and intense barking.

If excessive barking is the result of boredom, fear, attention seeking or a learned behavior, you can affect change in the dog's behavior.

BARK COLLARS

We do not recommend any type of bark collars. These collars to not distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate barking. In our view it is never appropriate to punish a dog for appropriate behavior. Dogs have enough challenges learning to live with us without us adding confusion.

De-barking should never be considered.

You may need to:

Give your dog safe items to entertain themselves with. Dog Toys

For more ideas to entertain your dog, go to the "Enriching Your Dog's Life" page.