Understanding barking behaviour
Barking is a normal canine behaviour. For most dogs and their owners, barking is not a problem. On occasion, however, this canine communication method may reach problem levels. Understanding what constitutes a barking problem, what the cause of this problem may be and then implementing the relevant solutions will ensure a more peaceful human and canine life.
Barking - a natural behaviour
Barking is primarily a tool to communicate. Barking satisfies our dog's need to communicate. It attempts to satisfy your dog's need to be with their social group.
Barking: a learned experience
Dogs also learn that barking has an effect on the world around them. A dog barks and we hesitate to enter the property. A dog barks and we throw his ball. A dog barks and we shout at them to "Shut up!" Many dogs bark excessively or annoyingly because they have learnt to do so.
Tips for dog barking
Teach your dog to bark on comand
Noisy dogs can often learn to be quiet simply by teaching them to 'speak' on command and then teaching them to be quiet.
If you know why your dog barks, it will be easier to find solution to the problem." Dr Jo
Causes of the barking problem
Reason to bark: Boredom
Your dog can be bored even if you have a big backyard, take him for a walk every day, buy many dog toys and he is almost never alone. Being alone, with little to do, for extended periods of time often leads to boredom, frustration and the desire for dogs to reunite with their social group (owners).
Reason to bark: Anxiety
Barking can be a symptom of stress in your dog's life. Dogs may be fearful or anxious of people, objects or events, especially if these are unknown experiences or ones that have caused significant distress in the past. Another common anxious cause of barking is the condition separation anxiety.
Reason to bark: Disturbances
People arriving at the gate or door can set many dogs off on a barking episode. Barking episodes caused by disturbances are generally short-lived and the emergence of the owner is enough to stop the dog barking. Many cases of disturbance barking are commonly referred to as territorial behaviour.
Reason to bark: Discomfort
Dogs may bark if they are experiencing pain or discomfort. This may be due to illness or to being restricted to a limited area. Behaviour changes are often the first sign of illness or a medical problem within our pets. Barking, from a normally quiet dog, may indicate pain.
Reason to bark: Excitement
Dogs get excited about many activities including an anticipated walk, playing games, children's activities, people in swimming pools and their owners arriving home. Some will run about exuberantly while others will start to bark and forget when to stop!
Reason to bark: Attention seeking
For many dogs, the main reason they bark to the level of annoyance is simply to get attention.