Table of Contents
- Excessive Barking in Dogs: When is it Too Much?
- Common Reasons Why Dog Barks
- How To Stop Excessive Barking in Dogs
- How to Prevent Excessive Barking in Dogs
- FAQs on Excessive Barking in Dogs
- Excessive Barking in Dogs — Final Thoughts
Excessive barking in dogs is a pretty common thing most, if not some, dog owners have experienced at some point in caring for pups.
Barking, after all, is the number one way for dogs to communicate with us.
However, barking non-stop can signify something's wrong, and that something should be addressed before it gets too out of hand.
What dog parent would want their neighbor complaining about “nuisance” just because of his dog's barking, right?
And yes, if you're wondering, there are local noise ordinances in some cities or counties.
Before getting the animal services involved or even the mediation services of your city government, it's probably best to nip the problem in the bud.
But the question is: how much dog barking is too much?
In this article, let's discuss what causes excessive barking in dogs, how to ultimately stop excessive barking, and how to prevent dog barking (if it can be prevented).
Excessive Barking in Dogs: When is it Too Much?
Dogs usually bark because they want to tell us they need something or are concerned about something.
And while barking is pretty normal for all dogs (except Basenji, the barkless dog!) sometimes, they can just get overboard with it!
Excessive barking in dogs could mean they are excited, frustrated, stressed, in pain, or their needs are not being met.
While it can be considered a behavioral problem, it's also important to rule out any health concerns that might be causing it.
But how much dog barking is too much?
Legally speaking, different cities or counties have their own definition of excessive barking and noise nuisance.
In the City of St. Cloud in Minnesota, for example, if a dog or any animal barks, howls, or whines for a period of 6 minutes or more, that can be considered a noise nuisance.
Contra Costa County in California, on the other hand, considers it a nuisance if the animal is making noise for 30 continuous minutes or more (incessant), or for 60 minutes off and on within a 24-hour period (intermittent).
In both cases, the city and the state encourage the complaining neighbors to call Animal Services.
It's really best for you to research the local ordinance existing in your area especially if you have a vocal pet or pets to avoid any problems.
Just remember that barking is normal for dogs. And that excessive barking is not the “disorder” itself that can be treated away; it's a sign that something is not right for your dog.
Is Excessive Barking Bad for Dogs?
Any legal issues that might arise from your dog's excessive barking shouldn't be your only concern because it can also be bad for your dog's health.
It can actually damage their vocal cords and cause sore throat.
Apart from that, the stress associated with excessive barking (especially if they're being ignored) can further lead to more behavioral issues like digging, excessive licking, or picking fights with other dogs or pets.
Dog Breeds Prone to Excessive Barking
As we know, there are certain dog breeds that are quite “talkative.”
They love showing off who's the boss in the house and how their needs have to be met at all times.
Different breeds have different barking frequencies and patterns, and it can also be one of the considerations you should think of when adopting a new fur baby.
Some of the common dog breeds that are vocal and prone to barking (in no particular order) are:
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Miniature Pinscher
- Siberian Husky
- Australian Shepherd
- Basset Hound
- German Shepherd
- Alaskan Malamute
On the other hand, there are breeds that are more reserved and don't bark that much.
You'd probably want to consider them if you're living in an apartment setting or a quiet neighborhood.
OPPOSITE: 25 Most Quiet Dogs (Based on Studies)
Common Reasons Why Dog Barks
While we wish our dogs can just tell us what they need, they're just not able to do that, unfortunately.
All they can do is bark. And so it's our duty as the dog owner to figure out the reason behind their persistent barking
The first thing to rule out is any health issues that they may have.
It's possible that they're in pain or that they have an underlying condition that needs veterinary help.
Barking out of nowhere for a prolonged period of time is one of the symptoms of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or Dog Dementia common for senior dogs. Deaf dogs are prone to vocalizations, too.
Any physical pain can also be a cause for barking–whether it be a bee sting or a wound or a strained muscle or bone.
It's important to bring them to the clinic to assess them for any possible injury or condition they may have.
Dogs are naturally protective of their pack, and yes, they consider their humans as members of the pack.
Constantly seeing unknown people, animals, or even objects near their territory (a.k.a. house) can cause them to bark incessantly.
Sometimes, when the stranger comes near the house, bed, or crate, the dog's barking intensifies as an attempt to intimidate the stranger.
Fear of Something
You may think that they're barking out of nowhere, but in truth, they could be afraid of something.
The most common example of this is during a fireworks display, seeing something that triggers a past trauma (especially for rescued dogs) or getting startled.
If a situation is uncomfortable for your dog, they're probably telling you that through their barking.
Being excited about things can also cause your dog to bark.
Notice how they wag their tails and bark at you whenever you get home from a long day at work? That's their way of greeting you.
When dogs are hungry, want to go outside for potty, or just want some playtime with their owners, their way of asking for these is thru barking.
You also gotta make sure that your dog is getting enough attention and his needs are being met to prevent him from barking too much.
Dogs with separation anxiety will especially bark for long hours as long as they're alone in the house.
Most often than not, these dogs also develop compulsive and/or destructive behavior such as pacing, chewing off furniture, and soiling in inappropriate places.
How To Stop Excessive Barking in Dogs
Excessive barking in dogs is considered a behavioral problem. Good thing that there are ways to stop it.
However, make sure to squeeze in lots of time, effort, and patience to successfully stop the barking habits of your dog.
If your dog constantly barks at the window while looking at passersby, it's best to remove this distraction by closing a curtain or removing the stool near the window where he perches.
If it's the outside noise that's setting off your dog's barking behavior, you can try using a white noise machine like this to muffle the sound.
Teach Them Alternative Behavior
Giving in to what your dog wants just because he is barking loud and non-stop will only teach him that his way is effective. Because of this, he'll probably do it again and again.
If he barks to ask for water or food, playtime, or outside potty, teach him new behavior to ask for them.
Ignore him for a while and do other things. Once he paused, you can then proceed to give him what he needs.
Try to bang his bowl first before filling it. Learning this sound will encourage him to do the same by bumping it with his nose.
You can also teach him to bump the door or ring a bell by the door to signify wanting to go outside or pick up his toy if he wants to play.
Increase Enrichment Opportunities
Bored dogs can get their entertainment by barking all day. They just seemed to love the sound of their own voice!
And so to prevent this, it's best to keep them preoccupied with things.
Physical and mental activities will keep them happy and busy either when you're away or at home.
Dog Puzzle Toys like this will not only help stimulate their minds but will also let them feed slowly while you're away.
Also, tired dogs won't bark. So make sure to walk them outside or do active playtime for a couple of minutes before leaving them at home.
Maybe, you'd also want to consider doggy daycares or pet boarding if you'll be gone for extended periods of time.
Imagine the stress of your dog's loud barking plus your neighbor complaining, it's easy to lose your cool and get into a shouting match with your dog.
No matter how tempting, please don't do this. Your dog will actually think you're joining him and might just bark even more loudly.
Instead, use a calm yet firm voice and tell him “No!” or “Quiet!” Do this repeatedly until he paused.
Once he does, give him a reward—a marker signal which means he did a good job, and a treat.
Just be careful not to give him any treats while he's barking as it might only encourage him.
Also, never hit him or even act like you're about to hit him as this may only do you both harm than good later on.
Remember that your dog isn't barking to actively stress you out; they just wanted to let you know that something is up.
Seek a Professional Dog Trainer
When you feel like you've done what you can and yet nothing's changed with your dog's barking behavior, you can seek help from animal behavior consultants or professional dog trainers.
You can ask your veterinarian for his referral so you know that the trainer is good and can be trusted.
Should Bark Collars be Used?
While bark collars are widely available in the market, it's recommended not to use them as your first option to treat barking problems, especially if the barking is fear or anxiety-driven.
Bark collars deliver a low-level shock to the dog's neck once they detect the vibration from your dog's barking.
And from the word “shock” itself, you can already guess it can get pretty uncomfortable, if not painful.
How to Prevent Excessive Barking in Dogs
Preventing your dog from barking in the first place is easier than trying to get them to stop barking.
It's best to always keep your dogs happy, busy, and entertained as soon as you got them as puppies.
Being preoccupied at all times will help reduce their barking tendency and allow them to keep it under control.
FAQs on Excessive Barking in Dogs
Should you let your dog bark it out?
While ignoring your dog's barking for a short period of time can be part of training him to stop doing it, letting him bark it out for as long as he wants will certainly not help.
For one, it does not deal with their fear or their needs. While they'd get tired of barking continuously, they'd probably resume to it once they've rested and their needs aren't still met.
Besides, prolonged barking can also do your dog harm. And not to mention the disapproving look you'll probably get from your un-friendly neighbors!
Can you remove a dog's ability to bark?
Scientifically speaking, yes. A dog's ability to bark can be reduced thru the process of ventriculocordectomy or vocal cordectomy (or debarking, in simple terms.)
Here, a couple of tissues found on an animal's vocal cords are removed to permanently reduce the volume of its vocalizations. Take note, reduce; not completely remove.
However, there are ethical concerns surrounding it, saying that it's unjustifiably cruel as it strips dogs of their natural way of communicating. (Think of removing a person's ability to speak without his consent!)
Instead of resorting to this, it's best to spend your time and money training your dog with the help of a professional animal behaviorist.
Excessive Barking in Dogs — Final Thoughts
Ultimately, it's important to know the reason behind excessive barking in dogs.
Trying to solve it before knowing what causes the excessive barking will probably not get you or your dog anywhere.
There are sure ways to prevent dog barking and stop their excessive barking, but of course, not without time, effort, and patience on your part.
Remember: barking is normal for dogs the same way it's normal for us humans to communicate with one another.
Punishing them for it, or worst, removing their ability to do it should never be part of your options in finding solutions to your dog's excessive barking problem.