Sure, barking is a normal behaviour for a dog. It’s his way of talking (or shouting!). Yet, as a pet parent it’s completely okay to ask yourself ‘how do I stop my dog from barking’. After all, excessive barking can be kinda’ annoying for you and your neighbours.
It’s also worth noting that some breeds are predisposed to barking behavior. Jack Russell Terriers, for example, are highly alert and intelligent dogs that often respond to environmental stimuli by barking.
Other breeds like Kelpies, Border Collies and Australian Cattle Dogs may bark if they don’t receive enough stimulation and become bored.
However, there can be many other reasons why you dog is barking a lot. It can be helpful to try to understand the triggers. This way you can take action to remove them.
What Makes a Dog Bark?
There are several conditions that may cause a dog to bark excessively. This includes;
- Canine cognitive function (senility)
- Partial or focal seizures
- Failing eyesight and hearing
- Hormonal disorder
- Dental problems
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
“The first step is to determine if your dog has a medical or behavioural problem. To do this, book an appointment with your vet. Your vet might need to run blood tests, do an x-ray or ultrasound before ruling out any medical issues related to your dog,” explains vet Dr Moss Siddle.
“Once your vet has ruled out medical problems as the cause of barking, you need to investigate and address behavioural reasons.
“There is no easy fix for most excessive barking problems with dogs. However, you can start your dog off with a behaviour modification plan in conjunction with behaviour-modifying drugs. These are usually administered for a short while with only a few severe cases needing the drugs indefinitely.”
What Action Can You Take?
“Dogs usually bark because they think there is something to be gained by it. To control your doggos barking, you need to identify and eliminate the reason behind the barking,” explains Dr Siddle.
It’s important to look at your dog’s lifestyle. You might also find it useful to keep a diary. Taking note of your dog’s daily activities may help you discover the cause of the barking.
In some cases, exercise can help. Alternatively, if you think separation anxiety may be the underlying cause, simply leaving the music or TV on when no one is home can encourage your dog to bark less.
“If your dog is a foodie, give him or her toys stuffed with dry dog kibble or peanut butter, honey or vegemite. This will offer a distraction from barking,” says Dr Siddle.
“If your dog is easily distracted by people or other dogs walking by, keep them inside the house during the day. Or set them up in a comfortable area away from the commotion in the street. (Maybe at the back of the house, for example.)
“Teach your dog some verbal commands that teach them barking is not okay. For instance, every time your dog barks, you might offer a simple firm voice command of “NO”. This will teach your dog that you do not approve of the barking.
“Of course, as well as teaching your dog that barking for no observable reason is not approved, you need to teach him what is okay. Give him positive feedback in the form of affection or treats. Teaching them to bark on demand and therefore be quiet at all other times can also be of great help.
What Not to Do
“Never use physical punishment on your dog. It is not helpful and may cause worsening anxiety or aggression in your dog.
“In most cases, citronella or electric shock collars are not recommended to reduce barking as they do not address the underlying reason causing the dog to bark. If anything, these things are likely to cause your dog more anxiety. This can lead to other unwanted behaviour, like destruction of furniture, inappropriate urination or aggression.”
Have you stopped your pooch from barking? Share your story and tips in the comments below.