If you have a talkative dog, you may have found yourself wondering (or yelling), “What the heck is all that barking about?” Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care knows that all that yapping can be a little annoying at times, but dog barking is actually a very important part of being canine.
The Purpose of Dog Barking
A dog barking is just as natural as a human talking. Dog barking is one way that our canid friends communicate with us and each other. Different barks and sounds mean different things.
If your dog is barking a lot, chances are they are trying to communicate one of the following:
Fear – If your pet is scared or startled, barking may be his way of letting you and others around them know that. Removing the scary stimulus and consoling your pet can often fix this cause of extra noise.
Ownership – Dogs may be protective of certain objects, places, or even people. The more threatening an imposing person or animal is, the louder and more aggressive the barking becomes.
Boredom – Pets who are left alone for long periods without stimulation may bark. Adding interaction and activity into these social creature’s days can help.
Playfulness – If your pet’s tail is wagging and body language is energetic, she may be trying to tell you she is happy or needs something. Many dogs will also bark when they wish to initiate play.
Anxiety – Barking accompanied by destructive behavior, house-soiling, or agitated body language can indicate a problem. Call us for a behavior consultation if your think your pet may be experiencing separation anxiety or other compulsive or anxiety-related behaviors.
How to Live in Harmony
An incessantly barking dog is the equivalent of having a roommate who never stops talking. While barking (and talking) are very natural, too much of a good thing is no fun.
Thankfully, most cases of excessive dog barking can be rectified. Firstly, taking the time to identify what your pooch is trying to tell you can be invaluable. Is he feeling threatened that the cat might eat his food? Upset that the neighbor is in the backyard? A little in the doldrums because she hasn’t been to doggy daycare this week? Many things have an easy fix.
Beyond that, a little training goes a long way. Use the following tips to decrease unwanted dog barking:
- You catch more flies with honey – reward your dog with treats, play, or affection when they are quiet and calm.
- Avoid yelling, which can amplify an already anxious, fearful, or worried pet.
- Ensure that your pet is getting enough physical exercise.
- Be sure to provide mental stimulation through training sessions, puzzle toys, or hide and seek type games.
- Deal with barking right away – the longer a behavior goes unaddressed, the harder it is to fix.
If your pet’s barking is not improving with these basic suggestions, it is time for a visit to see us. There are medical problems such as pain, cognitive dysfunction, and vision loss that could bring on excessive barking in addition to behavioral issues. We are here to help diagnose and address these.
While enduring some barking is part of owning a dog, that doesn’t mean that you must put up with an unreasonable amount. If your pet is barking more than normal, listen – he is probably trying to tell you something.