Is barking of your dog driving you crazy? Barking is a dog’s communication behavior, like talking to humans or crying for a baby. You can expect your dog not to bark. But unnecessary and excessive barking is annoying for the family and neighbors.
Dog vocalization serves a variety of behaviors. Before treating the problem and managing the environment, you must evaluate the exact cause or stimulus behind barking.
Several methods help train your dog to be quiet when needed and minimize undesirable noise. Let’s look at the different ways of dog vocalization, reasons for barking, and how each type could be managed with training.
3 Ways of Dog Vocalizations
Dog vocalization is the expected part of dog behavior and is entirely normal. Vocalization is the part of communication, and the dog may do it by yelping, groaning, grunting, barking, whining, or howling. This vocalization is fine for a short period of time. There are three different ways of dog vocalization:
- Pitch of barking
- Duration of barking
- Frequency of barking
These methods will make you understand the reason or mood of your pet.
The Pitch of Barking
Pitches range from low to high. A high pitch indicates welcoming, excitement, playfulness, or eagerness. A low pitch usually shows threat, aggression, frustration, cautiousness, and suspicion. So the pitch of bark indicates emotions.
Duration of Barking
The duration of the bark indicates whether your dog is fearful or threatened. For example, your pup won’t stop barking if a threat is imminent. However, short bursts of barking reflect that your dog is fearful.
Frequency of Barking
Repeated barking relates to urgency or eagerness. Brief barking indicates that your dog is interested in something, while repeated barking means something significant.
A study revealed that high-frequency dog barks are given in play and separation situations while harsh low-frequency barks are given in disturbing situation.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
A tired dog is a quiet dog, but there is a reason behind the dog barking excessively. Before teaching your dog about barking, you might consider a few questions to evaluate the exact cause of barking and start training.
- What and who is the target of barking?
- Where does barking usually occur?
- Which things (people, animals, sounds, and objects) stimulates his barking?
- When and why is your dog barking?
Let’s breakdown the lists of “why” behind dog barking:
When you see your dog tickling his tail with his ears back, it shows he is in a state of alert or fear. When your dog responds to a noise like a doorbell, footsteps, sound from tv or juicer machine, or any object in their home or outside of the house that is disturbing and caught his attention, they start barking vigorously.
Sometimes dogs start barking at anything they hear, and it’s pretty frustrating to have a barking dog, especially if you live in an apartment and have neighbors nearby. They tried to tell us about something or someone approaching with alert barking.
Territorial barking is self-reinforcing and similar to alert barking. Whenever your dog sees someone near their home or territory, they respond to it by starting barking. They won’t stop barking until the intruder leaves the territory. Barking will become loud if the intruder keeps approaching his considered territory.
Unlike the alert barking, that lasts for a short period, territorial barking lasts longer. For example, if your dog is alone at home and watching outside the window. He may see a stranger passing by and start barking. The stranger will pass by, but the dog links it to his barking that he leave the premises.
And calm when he passes by the home. When the dog barks territorially, he might ignore punishing responses from your side, such as yelling and scolding. This high level of motivation becomes stronger even the next time that he might control his territory by biting without warning.
Your dog might start barking when he sees or hear other people approaching near family territory, like a postman delivering the man or a maintenance person taking a gas meter reading.
It would be best not to mix alarm barking with territorial barking; territorial barking happens when someone approaches his territory of home or yard, but alarm barking is associated with people’s approach to other places.
Reactive and Fearful Barking
Your dog also starts barking when they encounter something that worries or scares him. Reactive barking is also due to fear, especially after a bad experience.
Such barking is labeled as aggressive and is expected due to the lack of socialization in puppies. However, sometimes reactive barking is due to frustration apart from fear.
Reactive barking is more common when your dog is on a leash, especially during walking or behind the fence. You may feel disturbed and ashamed by dog barking whenever someone passing near you or an off-leash dog approaches your dog.
Dogs are social animals. When they are alone for a more extended period of time, either in the yard or in their crate, they feel bored and unhappy and start barking.
Boredom barking may last for more than an hour if not appropriately addressed. This understimulated barking is repetitive. Boredom dog will bark continuously and may vent his frustrations on your flowerbeds or pots.
Separation Anxiety Barking
The most common symptoms of canine separation anxiety are barking, howling, and growling. Separation anxiety usually happens when a dog has to stay away from the owner of the specific person to whom they are very close—separation anxiety range from mild to severe.
For example, a dog may injure him when trying to escape and find his owner in extreme conditions. They also show symptoms of pacing, elimination, destruction, and depression.
Separation anxiety barking is challenging to handle and very disturbing for the owner because he feels it difficult or impossible to leave the dog even for a short time.
When a dog bark in greeting, he might also whine. Your dog started jumping and wagging his tail because of excitement with barking in greeting when he saw other people near home or other dogs or animals and trying to say hello. Your pet barking might be the same when seeing the family members come home.
Demand Barking/ Attention Seeking Barking
A dog’s bark also indicates that he needs attention or demand anything from the owner like food, treat, or favorite toy. For example, you might throw the ball in the air to make the dog stop barking and stop barking because he gets attention.
They also tried to get your attention by barking if they wanted to go outside for elimination or needed you to fill their water bowl. Sometimes dogs bark for everything and anything they need without any purpose. This kind of behavior should be discouraged by the owner.
Barking Related to Old Age
Many dogs excessively vocalize because they develop canine salinity. It’s common in older pets. As your dog ages, you will notice that he starts barking more than usual without any apparent reason. This wander barking might be associated with cognitive dysfunction.
Cognitive dysfunctioning is a neurobehavioral disorder in older pets. You can relate it to “Alzheimer’s of dogs,” just like humans. Due to cognitive dysfunction, older pets show declines in socialization and positive reinforcement, affecting a dog’s life quality.
Some dogs started barking only when they heard other dogs barking, either from neighbors or any dog barking while passing outside the home. This is a social context barking, starting hearing other dogs barking.
Frustration or Excitement Induce Barking
This type of barking happens when dogs are frustrated or in exciting situations. Like when they are trying to approach a toy or a playmate or when confined in an area to go out or tied up to restrict their movement or trying to reach something they like outside of the fence.
For example, a frustrated dog might bark to go out of home and want to join children playing in the street. A frustrated dog may bark at other cats outside the fence or run along the wall with the next dog.
Your dog may bark with excitement while walking with you to play and greet other dogs. Your puppy might start barking with excitement to move faster when you are ready for a bark.
Some dogs bark excessively and repetitively to hear their bark. They usually bark in situations they typically don’t bark more rigidly. If your pet bark on the things like sky, mirror, flashlights, open doors, shadows, etc., which other dogs usually do not bark, then your dog is a compulsive barker.
These dogs also show repetition in movement like pacing in-home, running back and forth along the fence, or running in circles and jumping while barking.
Illness or Injury
Sometimes excessive barking is due to medical conditions or problems like pain (arthritis), injury, blindness, fracture, deafness, hypertension, brain disease, tumor, or bee sting.
Before evaluating the exact cause behind the barking, you should visit your veterinarian for an examination.
How Does Training Help With Barking?
After evaluating the exact cause and triggers behind the barking, you can humanely train your dog. You can also take help from a professional trainer to make your dog stop barking. Let’s break down training techniques for different barking induce behaviors:
Training for Territorial/ Alert Barking
The territorial barking of dogs alerts the owner about the presence of other people, or he tries to scare an intruder and make him leave the territory. There is a need to limit the dog’s motivation and opportunities to defend the territory by treating territorial barking.
You can use opaque removable films or spray coats on glass windows to limit your dog’s outside view. Change the doorbell ring, which stimulates his barking whenever it rings. Use opaque and secure fencing to cover the boundary line of the yard where your dog has access.
Play music or TV to mask the noises that trigger barking. Call him inside when children leave school and make noises outside on their way back home.
Train your dog to not greet people at the main door or near the house’s boundary line; instead, he has to go to his crate or mat and stay there until you invite him for a proper greeting. So do not allow your dog to continue barking behavior
Alarming barking is similar to the territorial barking because it starts with sights and sounds. However, territorial barking is different from alarm barking. It usually occurs only when he is on house premises or car and starts to bark when a passerby or postman approaches the territory.
But alarm barking also starts when watching strangers or pedestrians approaching other places. Although alarm and territorial barking are slightly different, training techniques are the same for making your dog stop barking.
If your Dog continues barking despite your efforts to remove triggers, such as limiting his exposure to windows, other sites, sounds, and objects, use these techniques to train him to stay calm when these triggers are around.
Teach your Dog to follow your command to quiet whenever he sees someone approaching the front door or a pedestrian pass near your home; allow him to bark until you say “quiet.” You should tell the command clearly and calmly, not scolding or yelling.
Then go to your Dog, hold his muzzle with your hand and repeat the command “quiet” Leave the muzzle and step away; ask your Dog to step away from the window or come inside if he is in the yard.
When he sits quietly, reward him with a treat and wait until the trigger no longer exists. If he repeats alarm or territorial barking instantly, repeat the above training method.
Try an alternative method if your Dog doesn’t allow you to hold his muzzle. When your Dog starts barking due to a sound or object, it will enable him to bark three to four times and then say “quiet” in a firm and calm voice; when he stops barking, give him small treats, either boil chicken or hot dogs in a row.
After practicing this technique for several days, he will start learning the meaning of the command “quiet.” Gradually increase the time between command quiet and treat. Start from 2 sec and progressively increase it to 10-20 seconds.
If the above methods don’t work after 10-20 attempts, try some startling with the command “quiet.” Allow him to bark 3-4 times, they say “quiet,” and after that, make a startling noise with a bunch of keys or a can filled with coins immediately.
If he is distracted by startling, he will stop barking. However, if this method fails too after 10-20 attempts, you should consult with a certified applied animal behaviorist, a veterinary behaviorist, or a Certified Professional dog trainer.
If your Dog barks territorially in the car, then teach him to ride in the crate. Using a crate will limit his outside view. However, if riding in a crate fails, then use a head halter for the Dog while riding in the car.
Go to Your Place of Training
This command will teach your dog how to behave when someone comes home to visit before he starts alarm barking. First, your Dog will learn to perform a set of behaviors and then get a reward. Eventually, he will know that visitors are good to come home.
If you want to teach your dog “go to your place” training, teach him how to sit, lie down, and stay there. A study shows the efficacy of these commands for training. After your Dog learns these commands, then start teaching him to go to your place.
Any place in your home that is away from the main door but still in your sight can be used as a dog spot, like a dog’s crate, a rug in the corner of a room, or a spot at the top of stairs.
Say ” go to your place” and then throw a treat towards the spot of the Dog. Repeat this 10-20 times. By repeating 10th times, say go to your place and then fake throw a treat; when your Dog reaches his spot, throw his treat.
When your dog learns to “go to your spot,” teach him to sit and lie down and associate learning this behavior with a reward. So you can ask friends for mock visits to train your Dog. It needs several visits till he masters these behaviors.
So when real visitors come, ask your Dog to go to your place; as the doorbell rings, guests come inside the home and sit. Wait for one minute to release your Dog to greet the guest.
You can put your dog on a leash if you are concerned that he will jump on the guest. After greeting, ask him to sit and stay. You can give him a treat like peanut butter, boiled chicken, cheese, frozen banana, etc. When he eventually learns how to behave when visitors come home, he behaves calmly.
Training for Reactive or Fearful Barking
Suppose your dog is barking because of fear. In that case, the first thing to do is remove any stimulus in the environment that causes barking, confidence-building exercises, learn their body language to rule out fear or reactivity. In this way, you can change the emotional response of your pet.
Punishing your Dog to treat reactive barking is a bad idea. You may suppress barking behavior, but this is not the treatment of barking, and your dog may end up biting nowhere. A certified canine behaviorist veterinary behaviorist can help you achieve this goal.
Training for Boredom Barking
Either lap dogs (Cavachons) or high-energy breeds (Husky or shepherd) need physical activities or brain games every day. This time could be 2-3 hours for high-energy breeds every day. These activities can make your Dog tired.
Physical exercise is essential to treat boredom barking. An excellent physical activity (walk or jogging) in the morning makes him tired enough to take a nap in the day when you are at work.
Apart from walks, other physical exercises include running after a ball, playing with a flirt pole, hide-and-seek.
Brain Games and Mental Enrichment
Brain games are essential for the brain to work out of your Dog. These include interactive toys or puzzles during their mealtime. You can allow them to sniff other things during a walk.
Chewable toys like stuffed kong are also a good option. Ensure that your Dog has appropriate items to do by themselves in your absence. These activities make tired and calm.
Training for Separation Anxiety Barking
When you leave for work, leaving your canine at home, he may bark in your absence due to separation anxiety. Therefore, it’s essential to evaluate whether he is barking due to separation anxiety or something else. Many pet parents want to stop barking at their dogs when they aren’t home.
However, you should not leave your dog alone in the yard because many factors trigger barking other than separation in your absence, like traffic, anything he likes out of the fence, the noise of children, pedestrians, dogs, or other animals, due to boredom.
The more your Dog spends unsupervised time, the more barking becomes worse. Setting up a safe zone when home alone is vital as it keeps your dog safe from dangerous situations and destructive chewing. This safe zone could either be a crate or a puppy zone to give him more space to move around.
To treat separation anxiety barking, you might consult a veterinary behaviorist or certified training professional for help and support. Sometimes, Behavior medications can be achieved with anti-anxiety/ depression medications at the start. Non-prescription options are also there, but only a veterinary vet or professional trainer can help you choose what suits your Dog best.
Training for Greeting Barking
When dogs bark to greet passersby, other dogs, or guests at home, they waggle their tails also whine with barking. For training your Dog to control greet barking, follow these steps:
- Teach your Dog to sit, stay and wait when meeting people at the door. This will reduce the excitement level. First, teach this in the absence of visitors at the door. Next, teach him to sit, stay and wait until you ask him to do proper greetings. This will reduce his excitement level when real visitors come.
- Put your pet’s favorite toy near the main door and ask your Dog to hold it in his mouth before greeting visitors at the door. This will prevent him from barking at the same time.
- You can teach your dog that he can walk calmly during walks when passing by other people and dogs without meeting them. A treat works best for this purpose and distracts your Dog. For example, it could be cheese, boiled chicken, or hot dogs. You can give a treat to the Dog before he starts barking. Show your dog a treat, let him sniff it until the people or other dogs pass by, which triggers his greet barking. Some dogs like to walk without barking, and others want to sit calmly when you give commands. Command sit/stay/ wait works well to control greeting barking behavior. However, you should always reward your Dog whenever you choose not to bark.
Training for Demand/ Attention-seeking Barking
The first thing to train your Dog for is to stop attention or demand-related barking by not giving treats consistently for barking. Ignore him instead of evaluating the cause of barking. Treatment for this kind of barking is complex.
Pet parents reward their pets purposely with attention rewards like scolding, petting, eye contact, touching, or talking, which reinforce the attention or demand behavior.
Try to tell your Dog with your body language that this attention-seeking behavior will not be fulfilled. For example, when your Dog starts barking for something needed or for attention, go out of the room or walk away from your Dog.
When he stops barking, go to your Dog, ask him to sit and stay, and give him what he wants food, a treat, a toy, or attention. Sometimes he also barks at you to get your attention to go outside for the potty. You teach
You can also eliminate this behavior by teaching him alternate behavior. For example your want to go out for a walk or want to come inside the home, you can install a doggy door and teach him how to go inside and ring the bell with his paw or mouth.
You can also avoid barking at your Dog when you are working on the computer or talking on the phone by giving him a chew bone, so he keeps busy with the bone. Teach him to bring a toy and sit in front of you if he wants to play with you instead of barking.
Teach your Dog to be silent on the “quiet” command. He should have to obey commands then give him attention or a treat. You will associate the reward with the command’s fulfillment and will no longer be forced to bark for attention.
If your Dog barks at you just because he demands food before feeding times, you need to change his behavior. Giving him food will teach him to get food whenever it’s his feeding time.
There’s no exact feeding time for dogs every day. If you give your dog food at 6 pm, he may start barking at 5.45 pm for food. Eliminate the barking by giving him food at 5 pm. Some day give small meal at 2 pm then dinner at 7 pm
During training, a demand barking is usually due to frustration when you hold a treat in your hand, lure him, and do not give him right away.
You can teach him to perform the command, then sit quietly so he will get the treat. The trainer or owner should not ignore the demand for barking during training as it will increase the frustration in dogs.
Almost all dogs, especially puppies, get active right before bedtime. Trainers usually call these hours “Witching hours” when puppies become crazy, usually between 6 pm to 9 pm.
Suppose your dog dogs want you to play with you or go for a late-night walk. You can change the behavior by engaging him in some kind of enrichment activity which is great before bedtime. It could be chewing on a toy, a puzzle, or licking on the mat.
Training for Socially Facilitated Barking
Dogs are social animals. They started barking when they heard other dogs barking (whether on TV or in real life). You can discourage this kind of barking by keeping your Dog inside or playing with them, masking the other dogs’ bark with music, or giving him a treat while dogs are barking outside.
Training for Frustration or Excitement Induce Barking
To control frustration or excitement induce barking, you need to teach your dog to control his impulses through basic “obedience” training. For example, you can train your dog to sit/stay and down/stay the commands he must follow before playing with other dogs, meeting his buddy, or running after squirrels.
Like before he starts running to chase a squirrel while barking, interrupt your Dog by giving him another game such as flirt pole play or tug with you. But they start feeling bored and cannot sit quietly anymore; you can give them an interactive toy.
While the Dog is busy playing with stuffed toys in their mouth, they can’t bark simultaneously. You can also discourage intruders (cats or other animals) by using motion activates devices to frighten them.
Discouraging excitement or frustration by barking is an overwhelming task, but you can hire a Certified professional trainer for this purpose.
Training for Compulsive Barking
You can treat compulsive barking by changing the confinement of your Dog. If your dog is tired, transit him loose in a safe, confined area. If your dog is alone for several hours, try some exercises, social contact, and mental stimulation.
If barking won’t improve by using the above methods for compulsive barking, must consult with a certified applied animal behaviorist, a veterinary behaviorist, or a certified professional dog trainer (make sure the trainer has the education, is qualified enough, and has experience for treating compulsive behavior as CPDT certification do not require this kind of expertise)
Vet Visit for Illness/ Injury/ Age-related Barking
Sometimes barking is not associated with a stimulus; instead, your dog bark due to ongoing pain, bee sting, fracture, tumor, hypertension, or related cognitive dysfunction, which reduces the socialization behavior of dogs. To calm your Dog, visit your vet to evaluate the exact cause and start treatment to stop barking and improve his life.
Should You Use Anti-bark Collars to Stop Your Dog From Barking?
Anti-bark collars are punishment devices that shock, spray citronella and make ultrasonic noise when the Dog barks. Some owners choose to correct the barking problems by using corrective collars.
These collars should not be used as the first choice to stop and solve the barking issues, especially when your Dog’s bark is due to fear, compulsion, and anxiety. Anti-shock collars are not an excellent option to control bark behavior because these collars won’t address the root cause of barking.
You should consult with a veterinary behaviorist, a certified professional dog trainer, or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. The anti-bark collar should be the last option when all training methods for controlling barking won’t work.
Anti-bark collars should not be used all the time; otherwise, your Dog will not bark when the collar is on and will resume barking when the collar is off.
Some collars come up with a microphone to hear the dor barking. Studies show that collars that make noise are not suitable for most dogs. Electronic shock collars and citronella spray collars are equally effective in controlling barking.
However, the use of electronic collars for training dogs is controversial. A study shows that reward-based methods have a successful outcome compared to corrective collars.
Use of Head Halter
A head halter is a great tool that assists in training. These are the combination of muzzle/ collar allowing your don to breathe and drink. Head halter is always used under supervision and never near your Dog alone when wearing it.
They are very significant for use at home and during a walk with your pet because they have a calming and controlling effect on your Dog, reducing barking chances.
Counter barking can be controlled with a head halter, but it can not replace the importance of training, reward, and praise. They also help control anxious dogs to calm down and get a treat
Off Collar Method
Some off-collar devices like bark-activated water sprayers or noise maker switches can work well in a set area. Emitting an irritating sound or shooting water at pets will stop them from barking.
These methods work well if you are doing this at home to reward your Dog.
What Not to Do
There are some things you should not adopt while training your Dog:
- For example, do not encourage your dog to bark at the sounds like children playing in the street, pedestrians, birds outside the window or on trees, slamming of car doors or house doors, other dogs or cats passing near your home by standing and watching outside the window or by saying “Who is there.”
- Do not punish your puppy for barking at sounds like birds chirping outside the windows, kids playing in the street, and slamming car or house doors. Instead, encourage him on other sounds like people at the door and reward him with praise or treat. So he can distinguish between two events and stop barking.
- Do not use corrective collars without the advice of a Veterinarian Behaviorist or Certified Professional dog trainer, as they are not a substitute for training. In addition, because barking may be associated with fear, anxiety, or depression, your pet will feel worse, and the situation will worsen.
- Please do not use a muzzle to keep a dog quiet when you are not actively watching your Dog, and also, do not make him wear it for more extended periods to keep them quiet. With muzzles, dogs can’t eat, drink or pant to cool themselves. It’s also inhuman to make them wear muzzles for more extended periods. Never try to make your muzzle with a rubber band or rope. So doing is not only inhumane but also painful for dogs.
- Debarking is considered inhumane by many. It doesn’t address the reason behind barking. Instead, it’s a surgical procedure to change the barking sound. Folds on either side of the voice box or larynx are removed in this procedure, changing a whole bark into raspy bark. Complications could be life-threatening after surgery, including ongoing pain, choking, and breathing difficulties.
It is very annoying to have a barking dog. You will feel ashamed of your pet’s barking during a walk, on a car ride, on the arrival guest, on sounds, when watching other dogs or animals, anxiety, or depression. It is important to evaluate the exact reason behind the barking of dogs.
You need to monitor your Dog and learn his behavior, which objects, person, or stimulus triggers his barking. Along with that, some dog breeds bark a lot. Before adopting a pet dog, you need to know how different are local breeds.
It is inhuman to buy a vocal breed, then try to teach and train him to avoid barking or use corrective collars to overcome this behavior
After knowing the reason behind the barking, you need first to train your Dog in some commands or cues such as sit, down, stay, lie, then start training to control barking.
The use of corrective collars or head halters also assists in training your pet for barking. But you should not use corrective collars or head halters when you are not around.
Not every barking needs training like illness (injury, fracture, tumor) or age-related barking (cognitive dysfunction). For these medical conditions must visit your veterinarian to improve the quality of life of your Dog.
In addition, sometimes training methods won’t work well despite all efforts to stop excessive barking. In these situations, you should consult with a veterinary behaviorist, a certified applied animal behaviorist, or a certified professional dog trainer.