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Dog laying down in the grass at a park

18 January . 2019

Why Dogs Bark

by Andrew Olson

Dogs bark to communicate. If your dog barks continually, annoying you and or your neighbors, then you need to determine why he is barking before you apply a solution. Here are some reasons your dog might be barking,   and solutions to correct any unwanted behavior.

Woman with Dog

Territorial Barking warns people or animals that they are in the dog’s perceived territory. As children pass and walk away, or the delivery person leaves after the delivery, the dogs sees his barking as a victory and scared off the intruder, thus reinforces the behavior.
Solution: Change the dog’s environment or routine so that he is not exposed to the things that cause him to bark. You may need to modify your yard in some way to decrease his exposure to the things that trigger the barking. Proper socialization will also help with this problem as well.

Frustration Barking occurs when the dog is prevented from engaging in behavior that he wants. He may start barking at a cat atop the fence that he can’t reach or children across the street playing the he wants to join. This barking is often accompanied by pawing at restraints, jumping up, pacing or circling.
Solution: identify the course of his frustration, modify the environment to eliminate the frustration and enrich his environment.

Protective barking is triggered when someone moves toward a person or animal to whom he is attached.
Defensive barking occurs when dogs feel threatened by other animals, people or noises. Dog bark defensively when they see or hear neighbors in adjacent yards or in response to things, they perceive as threatening.
Solution: Encourage and reinforce quiet behavior. The instant he starts barking, call him to you. Make him sit, lay down or perform a trick he knows. Have him do this several times. Reward him with treats and praise. Over time, his automatic response will be to come to you and see what you him to do to get the treat, rather than barking. Proper socialization will also help.

Excitement barking frequently occurs when you return home or when the dog sees or hears someone he knows. You reinforce this barking by paying attention to the dog and acting excited yourself.
Playful barking covers a variety of different noises when he is playing including barking, yelping, whining and growling. These sounds are made to get others to play and can be a problem when two dogs are together or if trying to get a neighbor’s dog to play.
Solution: Do not reinforce this behavior by paying attention to your dog. Ignore him and reward the quiet behavior. Separate house dogs if caused by two family dogs playing. Proper socialization helps.

Attention Getting barking occurs when he is not getting attention from people or other animals. They want attention when their needs are not being met. They are social animals and not adapted to environments with little social contact.
Solution: Enrich his environment and dedicate at least 30 minutes, twice a day, to do things with your dog. Walking, playing, training, and socialization are good. Make sure he has shelter from heat/cold, plenty of food and water.

Fear barking occurs if the dog is afraid of something like thunderstorms, fireworks or other loud noises such as garbage trucks and sirens. If he has several frightening episodes in the same location such as the back yard, his fear may generalize and he may bark in the backyard even if the original fear-eliciting stimulus is not present.
Solution: Identify the cause of fear; modify the environment to minimize exposure to the stimulus. Bark collars will not help with this type of barking.

Separation anxiety barking is a specific type of fear motivated barking. Dogs are social animals and can become anxious or even panicked when separated from their owners or people to whom they are attached. Symptoms include excessive barking, destructiveness, attempts to escape or house soiling.
Solution: Treatment for separation anxiety includes behavior modification to help your dog become more tolerant and relaxed when left alone. You need to change your routine when you the house, be low key when you leave and not be lavishing your dog when you go. Do not leave for extended periods and gradually work up to being gone longer periods. Upon return, do not excite the dog and allow him to relax. Start with 30 seconds of being gone before returning. Then try a minute, then two, five, ten, thirty and up to an hour. As you are gone for longer periods, it will be easier to extend the time so you will be able to be gone for longer segments of time.

Group barking may occur when other dogs join one who started the barking. This is the neighborhood bark fest.
Solution: Modify his environment to minimize exposure to other dogs.

Close up of dog looking at something in the distance.