Dog barking is really just a way of communicating, in any kind of situation. It may be out of joy, and at other times it may be as a warning sign of some danger. But as we all know, barking can sometimes become excessive. So, how can we stop our dogs barking at every little thing?
The first thing to understand when trying to nip excessive dog barking in the bud is why the dog does it in the first place.
Situations that cause excessive dog barking
These types of habits, if they are very ingrained in a dog’s behavior, are not always easy to change. The problem has to be approached with a lot of patience. And, you should maintain an understanding of the various causes that could be behind the behavior.
Our dog has some basic needs that go beyond food. These are: company, daily walks, sufficient space at home, and many others. And if these basic needs are not met, a dog may take to barking excessively. This serves as a way to release the accumulated stress.
In situations of extreme stress, abuse, excessive loneliness, having little space or generally experiencing feelings of frustration, barking may be the dog’s only way to express itself and get rid of built-up tension.
Dogs, much like their human owners, are very social creatures. They feel a need to interact with their environment on a daily basis – and this is especially the case if the dog in question is a very active one.
If a dog was living free in nature, it would be with its pack 24 hours a day – and even when he or she was relaxing, there would be another dog around to watch, hang out with and play with.
That’s why, if you’re planning to leave your dog alone for a long stretch of time, it’s probably best to find someone – or some dog – to provide company for the dog.
This problem is closely related to the previous one, loneliness. If our pet is alone at home without control or supervision, any separation anxiety may translate into behavior. Think: chewing on furniture or barking.
If this is the case with your dog, the solution is to go to the source of the problem, and try to treat the separation anxiety by providing the dog with well-being, tranquility and comfort.
Even dogs that are continuously entertained can sometimes bark at objects, vehicles and people. This may happen if the dog did not develop the ability to socialize normally when it was still a puppy. This may leave them afraid of everyday stimuli like noise, children, bicycles, etcetera. If your pet’s dog barking is at an excessive level, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a qualified professional.
There are some dogs that are very playful and excitable, and even more so if they are still puppies, and can’t seem to resist the temptation to bark at the slightest of stimuli. This usually happens when the dog is playing with other animals, discovering new things, doing something they enjoy or otherwise getting overexcited. Sometimes, the emotion is felt so strongly that the dog or puppy can’t control itself, and urinates too!
In these cases, the trick is to reward calm behavior on the part of the dog, and avoid scolding it for this behavior, which is actually involuntary.
Avoid things that make your dog frustrated
There are some situations and games that can frustrate your dog. For example, playing with laser-like lights, which it will pursue but will never be able to reach, may seem fun to us. But this fun little game will actually cause your dog to feel great frustration, which will of course have an effect on its behavior.
Health, old age and even deafness
Some dogs, with the passage of time, begin to lose their hearing or vision – and an unexpected consequence of this can be that dogs bark a lot in their dotage.
Animals like these, of course, need special affection and comfort due to their condition. When you’re living with or caring for an older dog, it’s important to be understanding and respectful at all times, and remember that this is a creature that has seen a lot in its time.
Any difficult or traumatic experiences that your dog has gone through during its life can generate phobias related to certain situations, people or objects. It’s important to bear this in mind in the way you treat your dog, and understand that it is only barking to protect itself from something it considers dangerous.
Some handy tricks to stop your dog barking at everything
If you’re dealing with a dog that constantly barks at every little thing, it’s a good idea to take these tips on board:
- The most important thing is to create an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility for your pet. And, do this both at home and while out and about. Stroking, massaging and rewards are excellent ways to motivate your dog into behaving better.
- There is no need to tell your dog off when it barks at slight stimuli, and even less to physically reprimand it. Treating your dog in this way will only make the problem worse.
- Dogs that are prone to excessive barking often need a lot of physical exercise. You don’t need to put it through a rigorous physical training regime. But, do make sure it gets consistent, moderate exercise.
- If your dog barks in the street when it crosses paths with its four-legged friends, try to resist the urge to pull hard on the lead. Because, this will increase your dog’s feelings of tension or stress. Instead, do your best to keep on walking as if nothing were happening.
- For your dog to have a calm attitude, it’s important that you do, too, as far as is possible and safe.