All dogs bark - it’s a natural behaviour which they use to communicate and express themselves. But excessive barking all day and night can be a problem for both you and your dog - and this behaviour has to be corrected.
Causes of Excessive Barking
Before figuring out how to stop the excessive barking, we have to first understand the cause of it. There is no one single reason why dogs bark excessively, it depends on the situation that they are in. Here are some common reasons why your dog might be barking more than he or she should:
- Boredom and Loneliness: This is the most common cause of excessive barking, and tends to be repetitive and monotone barks. If your dog is left alone for extended periods of time, he will feel lonely and express himself through barking at nothing.
- Anxiousness or Fear: If your dog is scared, worried or anxious, it might trigger him to start barking excessively to voice out his fear. It could be as simple as seeing something he’s afraid of, leading to him barking at the foreign object which he doesn’t understand.
- Territorial: When a stranger or another dog enters into your dog’s territory, he might get defensive and on alert-mode and bark repeatedly. Often, this comes out in loud (aggressive) bursts of barks, and will get faster and louder as the intruder gets closer and closer towards your dog.
- Attention-Seeking: Dogs bark to signal to you that they want your attention, or that they want to get something from you. This might result in excessive barking when your dog gets overly-excited while trying to communicate with you.
Stop Excessive Barking
If your dog barks excessively on a daily basis, it will take time and patience to get him or her to stop this behaviour. With the proper practice and techniques, you can slowly change his excessive barking behaviour.
Image Credits: Split Shire
Here are a few tips to control your dog’s barking:
- The first and most basic rule is to never shout at your dog to stop the barking. Dogs understand their humans through observing their behaviour - shouting at your dog will be understood by him as you joining in (i.e. you’re barking along with your dog), and won’t stop his barking. Instead, talk to your dog in a firm but calm manner.
- Consistency is key. Training your dog to stop excessive barking cannot be achieved with a single person, but consistent behaviour by everyone in the household. Your dog must be taught that excessive barking is an unacceptable behaviour regardless of which family member is with him at that time.
- Use positive reinforcement in training. Rather than punish your dog for excessive barking, use praise and reward. When your dog is barking, you can either ignore him till he stops, or teach him a command word such as “stop” or “quiet”. Once he stops barking, immediately give praise and a training treat. Repeat this action every time he stops barking so that he will associate the treat with stopping his excessive barking.
- If your dog is well-trained in the Stay command, you can also place a treat away from the door or stranger (depending on what he’s barking at), get him to eat the treat and ask him to Stay. If he barks while staying at the spot, firmly tell him to stop it or ignore him until he stops barking, and then reward him with a treat.
- One of the main reasons for excessive barking is loneliness or boredom. While we know that it’s hard to spend all your time with your dog, you can solve the boredom part. Tire him out before you head out for school or work, such as by bringing him to the nearby dog run or dog park for a quick morning walk. Even a few simple games of fetch in the morning can help a lot, as your dog will use up bursts of energy while running around the house to fetch his toys.
- Provide mentally stimulating toys to challenge your dog. Keep him busy by providing him with interactive IQ toys with hidden treats, or simply just hide the treats all around the house! If you’re home but don’t have the time to play with your dog, check out the Wickedbone - an interactive smart dog toy that stimulates playtime and exercise for your dog.
- Stay in touch with your dog through smart pet cameras with two-way audio, so you can talk to him even when you’re not home! This can help to reduce the anxiety and loneliness they feel when they’re all alone, which in turn helps to reduce their behaviour of excessive barking at nothing when they’re left alone at home.
Ultimately, training a dog is never a one-day job. It’s a constant learning experience for both you and your dog, and can be a fun-filled journey for you to develop a stronger bond with your pet dog. Leave a comment below to share your own tips to stop a dog from barking excessively!