Few things in life can be as comforting as a dog’s company. Their love of humans is unparalleled, and they can make your life significantly fuller and happier. All the tropes about them being man’s best friend often prove to be true. In fact, most dog owners would say that owning one was the best thing that has ever happened to them. A dog’s company can get you through tough times and keep you going when you lose all desire to move forward, which is why humans and dogs will always be close.
Yet, just like with a baby, raising a dog comes with a ton of responsibilities. One of the challenges that often emerge with having a dog in your house is when they start to bark excessively. It can get annoying and frustrating at times, but you can’t let it get to you and you have to be patient with them. Here is how you can stop your dog from excessive barking.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Before you can learn how to stop your dog from excessive barking, you need to understand why they might be doing it in the first place. There are several reasons why they might be barking, and none of them is to annoy you. These are the most common reasons why your dog might burst into a fit of loud barking.
Fear: dogs bark at things that startle or confuse them. If an object or a person –– or even a sound –– scares them, they will start barking, and stopping them will be rather difficult. This can happen anywhere, whether it is at home, at a park, or in any outside locations.
Protecting their territory: dogs are territorial, more so than many pets. This is something that many owners are oblivious to and it results in dogs excessive barking when they feel that someone has come into their territory or violated their area. The more you dig deeper into their area, the louder and more anxious the barking will get. You will notice that they will also be quite alert and might display aggressiveness in these scenarios.
Sadness/anxiety: in case you didn’t know it, dogs experience a wide range of emotions, albeit not as expansive as humans. One of the things that can trigger a fit of excessive barking is when a dog feels sad. If they are left alone for a long time in areas like your backyard or the roof of the building, they will most likely bark excessively. This is because they are both sad and bored since their owner left them alone, so they will bark due to this unhappiness. This also happens with dogs that have separation anxiety; they will bark excessively when the owner is about to leave the house because they know they’d be left alone.
Seeking Attention: dogs love attention, and it is something that every owner should take into consideration. If you are ignoring them, not playing with them, or are too busy doing something, they will let you know how they feel about it. Barking is also their way of seeking attention when they want something in particular, like going out for a walk in the park or treats.
How to Deal with Excessive Barking
Be Mindful of Your Dog’s Needs
The most important way to stop or even avoid excessive barking is to be mindful of your dog’s needs. The relation between a dog and its owner should be a very simple, yet deep one, and it is up to you as the human in this equation to make sure that happens. Learn to read your dog and anticipate its needs. If you had a child, you would do your best to keep it happy, and the same goes for a pet.
If your dog is hyperactive and likes to go on regular walks, don’t deprive him of this because they will react to that happening. If they have separation anxiety, make sure there is another pet around the house or someone else to keep them company. By doing these things, you can ensure that your dog’s needs are cared for and they would not have a reason to excessively bark.
Don’t Provoke Your Dog
Just as important as being mindful of your dog’s needs is respecting their boundaries and never provoking them. They are emotional creatures whose emotions often get the better of, so you need to keep that in mind. If your dog is territorial, never invade their territory. Stay out of their bed and don’t mess around with the space that they consider personal or off-limits. This might seem like exaggerating, but dogs actually get quite confrontational about this and you would be just upsetting them for no reason.
Needless to say, yelling is never the answer to stopping your dog’s excessive barking. In the best-case scenario, they will think you are joining in on the screaming party, and they will just get excited and keep barking out loud. It can get worse and you might traumatize your dog by yelling at them. They are very smart creatures who can understand anger, and it could have devastating effects on your relationship, so avoid yelling at all costs. Talk in a firm but calm manner, and give your dog an order to follow.
Train the Dog
Speaking of orders, you have to train your dog at a young age to follow orders, and one of those is ‘quiet’ or any synonym. This doesn’t come easily, obviously, but with training, any dog can be trained to follow this order. When you tell them firmly, and calmly, to quiet down, wait for that to happen. Give them a few seconds to stop barking, and when they do that, give them a treat. You mustn’t give them a treat while they’re still barking because they will understand it is okay to do so. If you give them treats when they stop barking after the order ‘quiet,’ they will know that a reward awaits for them if they stop barking.
Consider a Bark Collar
One option that you might have to consider if your dog barks excessively all the time is a bark collar. There are two types of bark collars available: the shock collar and the citronella bark collar. You can learn more about both online, but you will find that the citronella collars are much more humane than shock collars that shock the dog when they bark too loudly so they would stop using vibrations or electric jolts. The citronella bark collar, on the other hand, releases a spray or an unpleasant odor that provides an uncomfortable sensation to the dog without risking any harm coming to them as is the case with shock collars.
Create a Consistent Environment
When it comes to dog training, you must create a consistent environment so that they could understand right from wrong. You can’t have different people giving different commands and hope your dog will comply because they will get confused easily. Everyone in the house should follow the same training methods so that the dog could know what is expected of them. If someone gives them a treat when they are barking and another person in the same household tells the dog to be quiet, you can bet that they would keep barking because they think it will get them a treat.
Control the Surroundings
As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of external factors that can prompt a dog to excessively bark, and it is up to you as an owner to control those. If your dog barks at other animals in the park, make sure you take them elsewhere with fewer animals. If they bark at birds flying in outside the window, close the curtains. Whatever it is that is agitating them, remove it from the equation and you will have taken away any reason they have to bark.
Another approach is getting your dog accustomed to whatever it is they bark at because controlling the surroundings will not always be possible. For instance, if they always bark at visitors to your place or strangers, you can find a way around that so that your dog wouldn’t fear new faces as much.
Have friends come over and slowly approach the dog, gradually, and give them treats. As your dog quiets down and accepts the treats, have the friend pet them and shower them with praise. That way, your dog will start to see that maybe strangers aren’t so bad and they can warm up to them. Try this approach with the different stimuli that agitate your dog. The important thing is to take it slowly and to always reward them for accepting the change.
Keep Them Active
Barking takes up a lot of energy from a dog, and you need to redirect that energy elsewhere. A tired dog won’t excessively bark for hours and cause problems. So, your best chance of achieving that is by keeping the dog active so that their energy could be directed into a more positive experience. Take them on long walks or take them running with you, play fetch, and just make sure they are constantly active and doing things. You can do this before you leave them alone, for instance, which will help them quiet down once you leave and they’d lie down for a nap instead of bark.
It doesn’t just need to be physical efforts that drain your dog’s pent-up energy. You could also challenge them mentally in agility training or obedience games. Reward them for their efforts and keep them occupied mentally and physically, and they would never bark excessively.
Like with children, you can’t yield to a dog’s excessive barking. If all else fails and they still keep on barking, ignore them. When they keep barking like that, don’t give them attention until they understand that their behavior is bad, because doing otherwise would be rewarding them for misbehaving and it establishes a pattern that you will not be able to break easily from in the future. So, as long as they are barking, don’t touch them or give them treats; don’t even look at them. When they finally stop and quiet down, reward them for behaving well. That way, they will understand what’s at stake and they will behave better.
Some medical conditions could have your dog excessively, and this is something you have to keep in mind. From bee stings to neurological problems, there are different reasons why your dog might be excessively barking. So, always have them regularly checked at the vet so you could be certain that there isn’t an underlying medical condition that is causing them to act out. You never know, that excessive barking might be because your dog is in pain, not them misbehaving.
Shower Them with Love
At the end of the day, you are your dog’s world. Their entire reality revolves around you, and whatever it is the reason why they are barking, it probably has to do with you. So, always shower them with love and care; they will repay the favor. A dog that is loved and cared for in every possible way rarely acts out, and you are obligated to provide such loving conditions for your dog because they deserve it. Give them a lot of treats and a lot of hugs, and they will most likely be good boys/girls as long as you shower them with kindness.
Excessive barking can be troublesome and annoying, but it is not a complicated problem. You can easily find a way around this. Just find out why your dog barks excessively or when, and start from there. If there is a stimulus causing this, remove it from the equation or have them grow accustomed to it. Most importantly, never lose your patience and keep taking things slowly and calmly. Chances are, this excessive barking problem will be resolved in no time.