What can I do if my dog barks a lot?

A dog barking looking at the sky

If your dog barks excessively, it can quickly become annoying for your neighbors. This is especially the case if your dog barks constantly when they are alone at home. It can also be difficult and stressful for you as the owner. In this article, we will explore the reasons why dogs bark and what you can do to prevent your dog from barking excessively.

Why does my dog bark?

Dogs bark for a multitude of reasons and in various types of situations.

Your dog barks to express themselves

Let’s not forget that barking is completely natural for dogs! Even though we might feel like they are barking for no reason, in their eyes, they are just expressing themselves. Depending on the breed, some dogs bark less while other dogs bark much more. For example, some dogs bark energetically to express their joy, warn their owners about a strange noise that they heard, or ask for something. Just like humans can be more extroverted and talkative than others, some dogs can bark more or less frequently than other dogs.

When you decide to adopt a puppy, you should take into account that some breeds have a tendency to bark a lot. This is true for small dog breeds such as Dachshunds and Chihuahuas. It is also the case for guard dogs such as German Shepherds.

Your dog barks because they are scared

Dogs can also express negative emotions through barking when they are scared or do not feel safe. For example, they might bark at other dogs in the street or bark loudly when someone gets close to you, your house, or your car.

Dogs can also bark when they are scared due to an issue with their training or a traumatic experience that they went through in the past. However, often it is the owners themselves who make their dogs feel stressed and scared. For example, some small dog owners are scared for their dog when they come across larger dogs. These small dogs can feel the fear and panic that their owner is feeling. To express their fear, they can bark nervously and excessively. Their instinct tells them to defend their human, whom they believe is incapable of handling the situation. They do this despite their own fear.

Your dog barks because they are bored

Dogs are social animals. They need company and the company of fellow dogs is not always enough for them. Their history has been deeply linked to that of humans since they were domesticated more than 10,000 year ago.

In the past, domesticated dogs were used to accomplish tasks aimed to help and assist humans. Some of these tasks included watching over and leading herds, watching over villages, defending inhabitants, pulling carts, hunting or searching for game, and finding missing people.

Even though nowadays, they have become pets, they still instinctively need to carry out tasks. Humans have imposed their modern lifestyle on their pets. Dogs sleep at the same time as their owners, but when their owner leaves all day to go to work, they stay locked up at home without anything to do. It is not in their nature. They can get bored and develop destructive behavior. For example, they could ruin your furniture, your garbage, or your pillows. These acts of destruction express their unhappiness and discomfort. They are simply searching for something to do and it’s normal.

The most anxious dogs or those who have a lot of energy to use up can bark constantly until they are too exhausted to continue. Dogs truly appreciate the presence of their humans. They need distractions and solitude weighs on them.

Your dog barks because they want attention

Dogs are particularly attentive to the behavior of humans. A study has shown that adult dogs are capable of distinguishing positive facial expressions like smiles and negative facial expressions like anger. They guess the intentions of their human from being in constant contact with them.

Dogs need to interact with their loved ones. They can detect joy, pain, and even sickness! Some breeds are more sensitive and less independent. A dog that is always asking for attention will bark to make themselves noticed. They don’t mind if they get scolded!

A dog closing its eyes and barking
Dogs bark for a multitude of reasons and in various types of situations.

How do I prevent my dog from barking?

A pet that is too loud, who barks often, can quickly become annoying for their loved ones and for neighbors. Let’s see how we can prevent this issue.

Train your dog correctly

When your dog is still young, it’s important to teach your dog to spend time alone. It’s very difficult for dogs to handle being left alone. They have been taken away from their mother and their siblings. They often come from breeders where there are many other pets and they have never known what it’s like to be bored. For this reason, they need to be taught progressively how to get used to being alone. Leave your dog alone in a room with some toys and gradually increase the duration of your absence. Provide your dog with a comfortable place for them to sleep, separated from the rest of the house, and especially, do not give into to your dog’s crying and barking.

An anxious or very exuberant dog is often extremely excited when their humans returns home and they bark loudly to express this joy. It’s best to ignore your dog while they are like this until they are calm again. They need to understand that coming and leaving is not an extraordinary event.

Keep your dog occupied

Stimulation prevents boredom. If you need to go away for a while, to prevent your dog from going in search of something to do, you can leave your dog many different types of toys to keep them occupied: soft toys that squeak, kibble distributors in the shape of balls, rubber bouncing toys filled with treats, or puzzles. It’s best to change up these toys regularly so that your dog does not get bored of them.

There is a television network called Dog TV that is specially designed for dogs by vets. It presents segments that are 3 to 4 minutes long where dogs can watch other dogs run, play, and eat. There is even music in the background.

Tire out your dog

It is important to never stop stimulating your dog mentally and physically. Let your dog meet and play with other dogs, cats, or kids when out on walks so that it changes up your dog’s routine and reinforces their social life.

When dogs are kept locked up in a house, they accumulate a lot of energy that they then need to expend. In general, a walk that is at least 45 minutes per day is necessary. Some dogs who are more active need even more exercise to compensate. This is the case for herding dog breeds or hunting dog breeds, for example.

Canine sports like agility, canicross, sledding, flyball, or frisbee use your dog’s intelligence and their physical capacities.

Learning new things, discovering new places, sniffing new odors, living new experiences, interacting with different objects, people and places all help to keep dogs mentally stimulated.

A well-balanced dog, tired after having done a lot of physical exercise will want to relax rather than bark whenever they get the chance.

Make your dog feel safe

Understanding why your dog barks often is essential to solve this issue. To feel good, dogs need to feel safe. They need to be supervised, have well-established rules and habits. Most dogs are reassured by daily routines: meals and walks at the same time everyday, sleeping in the same place.

As dogs are pack animals like their ancestors, dogs consider their humans to be the chief of their clan. They count on you to reassure them by being consistent!

Ask for help

Dog behaviorists and dog trainers can be a great help for overwhelmed dog owners. You can contact them if your dog barks too often.