Many dog owners find themselves living with a dog that barks more than they ever thought would happen. In fact, nuisance barking is probably one of the main concerns owners have when it comes to their dogs. Aside from being difficult to live with, it can also cause problems with neighbors. While some breeds are more predisposed to barking than others, all dogs can bark excessively. Curbing the behavior means determining the cause of the barking and there are many reasons to consider.
#1 – Separation Anxiety
One of the most common causes of excess barking in dogs is anxiety and separation anxiety probably tops that list. This happens when an owner leaves the house, or even a certain bedroom, and leaves the dog alone. Some dogs suffer from severe anxiety when left alone and barking and howling are typically the easiest way for these dogs to express themselves. Unfortunately, their distress often causes owners to return (or major complaints from neighbors) and is rewarded when the owner comes back to calm the dog down. Dealing with separation anxiety is best done with a professional trainer, as all dogs will respond differently to various training and rehabilitation techniques.
#2 – Boredom
Although many owners feel that their dogs are just being a nuisance when seemingly barking at nothing in particular, their dogs are often just trying to communicate boredom. Under-stimulated dogs – whether mentally, physically or both – often express their dismay by barking. Not only do they learn to enjoy hearing themselves talk, they often do get the attention of their owners. Many dogs get “written off” and end up getting put somewhere that only increases their boredom.
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#3 – Initiating Play
Similar to barking because of boredom, dogs will bark to get the attention of their owners for play. In fact, some trainers even teach their dogs to bark at them as a release for the dog. Barking is a way for your dog to initial play behavior and they might bark at you just as they would another dog during chasing and wrestling games. If you notice that your dog gets very excited and animated when you respond to their barking, they’re likely trying to get you off the couch and participating in some fun!
#4 – Guarding Territory
Many breeds of dogs were bred to alert their owners to strangers on their property, but almost all dogs will bark to call out an intruder. Whether it’s the mail man, someone walking their dog by or a neighborhood cat, dogs will often bark to establish their territory and warn said intruders that they’d better stay away! Dogs will also bark to alert their owners that someone strange is on the property and they need to take care of it right away.
#5 – Physical Need
Many dogs will bark when they need something and often non-stop until that need is met. This can be somewhat irritating for the owner, but it is an easy way for dogs to communicate with them. Dogs may bark when they need to go outside to potty, when they’re out of water and sometimes when they’re hungry! These are all basic needs that must be met, so it’s not entirely terrible that our dogs will bark at us when they need something. However, you don’t want it to become too much of a habit or you might find that your dog barks constantly and has trained you to feed them!
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