Dog Barking

Dog Barking and how to deal with it

In this article we’ll look at the following around dog barking:

● Why do dogs bark? What is it for?
● When does barking become a problem?
● What might be causing it?
● Are certain breeds more prone to barking?
● How do you stop or prevent a dog from barking?
● What is nuisance dog barking?
● Dog barking laws (Ireland)
● What is considered excessive dog barking?

A barking dog, when the barking becomes excessive, is stressful for everyone. The dog, the owner/s and neighbours. There are ways to deal with dog barking but it’s also helpful to understand what’s happening.

Why do dogs bark? What is it for?

Dogs bark, some less than others but you shouldn’t expect a dog to never bark. Remember when we used to say children should be seen and never heard? Expecting a dog to never bark is like that.

Barking in a well-balanced dog helps them to communicate (often in play) so it can be a joyful thing. But if you are trying to better understand problem barking then the first step is to figure out the cause.

Barking is a vocalisation that can mean many things (like laughing can mean many things for us human folk. Not all of those jokes are funny but you want to be polite!) – so what might it mean?

● Play or greeting
● Attention seeking
● Alarm or Fear
● Territorial or Protective
● Loneliness or Boredom
● Separation Anxiety or Compulsive Barking

When does barking become a problem?

We could look at this from two angles. A) What might lead to the issue of barking? and B) How might it become an issue for people near the dog.

Let’s look at B) first (because we’re rebels). Most people will understand that when you get a new dog or puppy that there can be a settling in period. It is good to speak to your neighbours and the other people in your house about what you might be facing into with a new animal. Often people
become annoyed when they think that a dog owner isn’t aware that the barking is happening or trying to do something about it. Let them know that you are tackling it and most people will be understanding.

And to A) what might cause a dog to start barking to the point that it becomes a problem?

As we can see from the first section there are a few areas where barking could become a problem.

● Alarm or Fear
● Territorial or Protective
● Loneliness or Boredom
● Separation Anxiety or Compulsive Barking

What might be causing it?

Dogs that haven’t been properly socialised could be prone to barking out of fear or being territorial.  It is possible to help the dog to gain confidence and become comfortable. To stop a dog barking it is important to understand the cause of the barking.

A dog might have suffered a trauma at some point in their past. These traumas can be small but enough to change how the dog reacts to certain things in their world. This can move a dog to become more territorial or protective.

Other big areas that can lead to problem barking are loneliness, boredom, and separation anxiety. As many of us are working longer hours away from home our dogs are spending much longer by themselves. There are actions you can take to help them.

In some cases there might be a medical problem. There could be a pain issue or something else. It’s best to take professional advice in this instance.

Territorial barking: Dogs who are left in gardens for long periods extend their boundaries to include the home and the garden so anyone passing by can be seen as a threat and/or the dog could equally be bored being in the back garden for long periods and could be calling to passers by for
attention. To stop a dog barking it is important to understand the cause of the barking.

How do you stop a dog from barking?

Shouting at a dog to stop barking is like barking back at them. It encourages more barking because they think you are joining in. Calm firm tones work better along with certain actions.

Some things that can help:

● Change their environment or schedule to reduce stress
● Increase exercise where possible, asking friends and family for help or setting up “play dates” can really help to tire them out and you get to hangout with their humans too
● In the above vein go to the local dog park if you have access to one
● A “play date” for dogs that are home alone is another tactic, finding a neighbour with a well socialised dog helps to keep both dogs happier while you away from the house
● Invite the neighours kids/Grandkids/ people who like to play with dogs, this ticks lots of boxes, you get visitors and the dog gets to socialise while getting to use up some energy – Always have supervision when children and dogs are together and remember if we wind the dog up, we have to calm it back down again.
● Reward the behaviour you want- Toys can have their place, keeping your dog entertained is really important
● Deal with it sooner rather than later but even if it has been a while still look to see what you can do. While it’s better to deal with the issue as early as possible it’s also a good idea to look at the problem as soon as you can.

Top tip: Is to “name” the positive behaviour. So that when the dog is quiet you need to say “ good quiet yes”. Most people only actually say quiet when the dog is barking.  The problem with this is the word quiet while the dog is barking just end up meaning “ keep barking”.

Top tip: Leaving a dog in the window to look out at all going by encourages barking: The dog does not know it is the postman’s job to come and go from premises after he has left his post in – What the dog thinks has happened is “he saw the postman, he barked and the postman went” so therefore his barking was successful! And he probably repeats it several times a day with leaflet delivery people or people passing by the window.

Best wishes and remember we are here to help!  Get in contact today.