A dog barking is natural to them, and it's unreasonable for us as owners to expect our dogs to never bark.
We may not always appreciate or understand it.
But barking is how dogs communicate their feelings to each other and the world.
That, however, does not mean that the excessive dog barking problem should be accepted, and there are ways to deal with it.
Dogs bark for various reasons; therefore, the first thing to do is to figure out why your dog barks at what you might consider the most inappropriate times.
Once you know the reason behind the uncontrollable barking, you can start to treat the problem at its core.
Why Dogs Bark
There may be a hundred reasons why you now have to deal with a dog barking problem, but the most common are these:
When your dog sees or hears something in what he considers his territory, he'll bark a lot.
Your dog will look alert and even aggressive during this type of barking, and the barking will often get louder and more rapid as the threat gets closer.
This dog barking problem is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat into the canine's territory (or the dog's human).
Uncontrolled barking might be triggered by a noise or object that catches your pet's attention and startles him.
This can happen anywhere and not just at home.
If it happens at home, it could be part of the territorial or protective barking discussed above.
Your pet likes to greet you after not seeing you for a while.
This can lead to excessive dog barking problems.
It's usually a happy bark, accompanied by a wagging tail and sometimes even jumping or whining.
Without knowing, this is where dog owners reward their dogs for their unwanted behavior.
Attention Seeking Bark
Your dog will bark when he wants something, be it food, water, or your attention.
There could be a hundred reasons why the dog is seeking your attention. Some breeds are more attention-seekers than others.
We all know dogs are pack animals, and when left alone for long periods, they can become bored or sad.
When some dogs lack mental stimulation, they alert you of their discomfort or amuse themselves, which leads to your dog barking problem.
Separation Anxiety Barking
Dogs barking excessively when left alone might not just be lonely or bored but suffer from severe separation anxiety.
They often exhibit other symptoms, such as pacing, destructiveness, and depression.
They might even defecate in places they know they are not allowed to.
This is one of the prevalent reasons for a dog barking problem.
Compulsive barkers bark to hear the sound of their own voices.
As with dogs suffering from separation anxiety, they often make repetitive movements, such as running in circles or pacing along a fence.
Both separation anxiety and compulsive barking are challenging to treat, and the help of a canine behaviorist should be considered.
Medication might also be used to help them cope or while they learn more acceptable behavior.
Other medical problems can also cause excessive barking in dogs.
For example, a brain disease or a dog in chronic pain.
While generally, most pets suffer silently in pain, a few may express their discomfort through occasional barking.
Older pets may also develop a form of canine senility (dog dementia) that could cause uncontrollable barking.
Have your pet checked by a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions as reasons for excessive vocalizations.
If none are spotted, it's time to deal with a dog barking problem by fixing your pet's behavioral habits.
5 Ways to Solve Dog Barking Problem
Once you've figured out the possible reasons your dog is barking, you can start utilizing some techniques to solve the dog barking problem.
Getting your excessive barker dog to bark less will take time and effort.
Realize that it won't happen overnight, but luckily, you have several tools.
Use sight barriers
The easiest and quickest way to solve a dog barking problem and quiet down your pup, a territorial/alarm/defense barker, is to manage his environment.
You can stop the uncontrollable barking by blocking your dog's sight line to potential barking triggers.
You can use privacy fencing or hedges to block the views to neighboring yards or the street.
This will bark-proof your yard and make your home look more attractive!
Inside your home, you can close your blinds or install a removable plastic film that makes windows opaque to obscure your dog's view.
Be sure to place the window film a few inches above your dog's line of sight.
You can also buy a spray-on glass coating.
A doggy quiet zone
If your dogs suffer from separation anxiety, set up a safe and quiet place for them when you aren't home.
Choose a room in your home that is away from the front door.
Make sure there aren't any distractions from the outside world.
This can be a back bedroom, laundry room, or spare space.
Other helpful tools to help with this are:
- Toys: Separation barkers benefits from having something to do when you leave the house. A hard rubber dog toy that dispenses treats is a great way to keep them happy and their mouth busy with something other than barking. Just be careful that the toy is big enough not to be a chocking-hazard.
- White noise machine: This machine masks exterior noises that might trigger excessive barking in dogs and can even produce soothing sounds for your Fido. They are relatively affordable, like this one from Marpac, and can be highly effective.
- Pheromone-based treatment: Diffusers mimic the “calming pheromones” given off by female dogs and will help soothe dogs that bark due to stress. You might not see a dramatic shift in behavior but keep in mind that the chemicals are milder than medication but are an easy and affordable way to take the edge off.
Bark control gear
With technological advances, it is now possible to tech out your house to make your and your dog's life easier when solving dog barking problems.
Ultrasonic anti-bark birdhouse
A new anti-barking technology, like this one from Dogtek, can be one of the more humane tools.
This bark-deterrent device emits an ultrasonic sound that dogs find unpleasant and startles them out of barking.
However, reviews of ultrasonic anti-bark devices for dogs are mixed.
Some pet owners say it completely solved their dog barking problem, and others expressed their dogs didn't respond.
Citronella spray collar
Citronella spray bark collars, like this one from PetSafe, use a burst of citronella spray to reduce and ultimately eliminate excessive barking.
They are considered safe for dogs, and the spray itself is unpleasant and not at all harmful.
Like other anti-barking devices above and below, citronella dog collars do not work for every dog.
Some pet owners say it solved their dog barking problem, while others found them ineffective.
The same result was shown in studies.
This is similar to the diffusers discussed earlier. A dog stress-reducing collar, like this one, will be loaded with soothing pheromones to help stressed dogs calm down and reduce anxious barking.
It's another humane way to solve a dog barking problem.
But even though studies show that pheromone collars are the most effective tool for excessive barking today, the results are mixed according to pet owner reviews.
ThunderShirt Anxiety Vest
THIS PRODUCT IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE
Anxiety vests, like the famous ThunderShirt vest, were created to solve anxiety problems in dogs and comfort them.
Not only are they scientifically proven anxiety soothers in dogs, but they are also effective at solving dog barking problems in certain situations.
The wrap helps dogs prone to anxiety, over-stimulation, fear phobias, or those prone to compulsive barking to calm down.
It works by applying a gentle, constant pressure that soothes your pet.
The above is a partial list of tools for solving dog barking problems.
You will likely find various other products to help stop your dog's excessive barking.
You can find more options among the most ranked most effective dog calming collars.
These options are the most humane ways to solve excessive barking in dogs.
There are more effective ways to deal with a dog barking problem.
However, they are considered controversial, and the opinion is split on whether pet owners should use them.
You can use anti-bark dog collars that emit a short, low-level electric shock to discourage the dog from barking.
There are dog trainers and canine experts that support using these devices, and others strongly discourage them.
Another option that some dog owners use is debarking their dogs (devocalization, bark softening).
This procedure is even more controversial.
On top of that, it doesn't address the underlying dog barking problem.
It might even be considered animal cruelty.
The dog's voice box is removed, leaving dogs with a raspy voice instead of a full bark.
Other than the unethical aspect of the procedure itself, there are also possible complications, and the operation can be life-threatening.
4. Bark training
You can work with a trainer to practice desensitization techniques with your dog.
Your dog becomes accustomed to barking triggers and solves the dog barking problem.
Remember that dog training takes consistency and patience, but the long-term rewards are worth it.
Here are a few essential commands that can help control barking:
Recall: This is perfect for calling your dog away from barking triggers like the doorbell ringing. One of the most vital commands for a dog.
Speak: This makes no sense, right? You want your dog to stop barking! Training your dog to bark on command can help teach them when NOT to bark.
Quiet: Combined with ‘speak,' you can control your dog's vocalizations completely. Teaching your dog “quiet” will help them to calm down on cue.
Sit/stay: The fundamental and well-known command is helpful to keep your dog occupied when a barking trigger is nearby.
5. A lot of exercise
A tired dog is a quiet dog.
Nearly every dog can do a little extra mental and physical exercise.
A dog with a good workout will be less likely to react to barking triggers.
Take the time to exercise your dog daily by running or playing fetch.
Mind-teaser games like “find the toy” or hide-and-seek will tire your dog out.
Dog Barking Problems: Final Do's and Don'ts
Here are a few tips on what not to do in your efforts to end your dog barking problems:
- Don't yell. Speak calmly and firmly. Shouting stimulates your dog to bark more as he thinks you are joining in.
- Yelling “shut up” or “quiet” won't mean a thing to your dog unless you have trained him/her to know what it means.
- Be consistent. Encouraging your dog to bark at the doorbell but reprimanding him when he barks at strangers at the door is only confusing him.
- Don't muzzle your dog to keep them quiet for long periods when they are alone. It can be dangerous to your pet. Your dog regulates his temperature through the mouth by panting. A muzzle prevents your dog from doing this and drinking water and eating.
- Don't punish your dog if he is barking due to fright or separation anxiety. You will most likely increase his anxiety and, therefore, his barking.
- Do not intensify your dog's barking by acting excited when you get home. It is best to ignore your dog until he/she calms down and then calmly say hello.
FULL GUIDE: How to Stop Your Dog from Barking