Dog Barking (Excessive)

Learn about causes and corrective actions for excessive barking in dogs.

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Signs of Excessive Barking

Signs of Excessive Barking

  • Dog barks habitually at traffic, people in the household moving about or other everyday occurrences
  • Dog consistently barks for more than two to three minutes
  • Dog continues barking after stimulus such as squirrel or cat disappears
  • Dog barks enough that neighbors complain

Causes and Corrective Actions for Excessive Barking in Dogs

Alarm

This barking stems from the canine's natural instinct to alert those in the "pack" that someone or something approaches, a valued trait in the watchdog, but one that easily goes awry if owner over encourages the behavior or leaves it unchecked.

ALARM Corrective Actions: Never praise dog for barking at the mailperson, passersby or other daily activity unless you want this everyday alert. Block views of daily activity if dog stimulates to bark easily. Allow only short alarm barks, then divert dog's attention toward acceptable outlet such as a safe chewy, treat-stuffed toy or another quiet activity. Teach "Quiet" by keeping treats handy, tell dog "Quiet" when stops barking and feed a treat, repeat regularly until dog responds readily to command. Instill good obedience habits, such as training "Spot," a place your dog must lie down and stay quiet. Train dog to greet guests calmly and politely so he understands visitors are not a threat.

Boredom

Dogs often bark excessively to pass the time when left alone for extended periods, particularly outdoors. Many bark to burn off energy because they receive inadequate physical or mental exercise despite the owner's steady companionship.

BOREDOM Corrective Actions: When possible reduce amount of time you leave dog alone. If dog must be left alone during the day, rotate between treat-stuffed rubber toys, safe chew bones and other toys within the dog's confined area. Leave inaccessible radio on to provide comforting sound of human voices and drown out insignificant noises. Come home at lunch, enlist family members, ask neighbors or arrange for a pet sitter to walk dog midday. Increase physical exercise and obedience, tricks or other training. Don't leave dog unattended for extended periods outdoors. Use fencing and landscaping to block views that especially stimulate barking. In extreme cases, a collar that sprays dog with citronella when triggered by excessive barking may help.

Demanding Attention

Dog barks at owner expecting to be fed, go for a walk or receive other pleasant attention and owner complies.

DEMANDING ATTENTION Corrective Actions: Ignore demand barking. Pleasant things only happen for the dog when behaving quietly and you initiate the action.

Reactive

Especially common in the on-leash dog, reactive barking stems from fear or possible aggression toward other dogs due to under-socialization, genetic tendencies or other causes.

REACTIVE Corrective Actions: For non-aggression-related reactive barking, "counter condition" dog to perform an alternative learned behavior, such as Sit, upon seeing another dog by use of generous rewards for sitting quietly and then moving away from approaching dog before dog reacts, a combination that can very gradually progress to where the dog sits as another dog passes. For aggression issues, work with a professional trainer.

Separation Anxiety

Often confused with boredom barking, separation anxiety barking frequently couples with destructive or escape attempt behaviors and relates to the dog's extreme discomfort in being left alone even for relatively short periods.

SEPARATION ANXIETY Corrective Actions: When separation anxiety involves behaviors that destroy furnishings or potentially harm the dog, enlist a professional trainer. For milder cases that revolve around barking, introduce an "I'll be back" cue that tells your dog you will return, starting with leaving the house only a few minutes that you gradually build to longer time periods. Keep comings and goings on an even emotional keel, do not say goodbye when departing or excitedly greet dog upon returning, simply give a treat-stuffed toy before going and casually take dog out to potty after coming home.

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Lauren - 218178   Clovis, CA

7/27/2013 8:32:07 AM

Great advice. Will try it.

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linda   FIFE LAKE, Michigan

6/14/2013 5:14:13 AM

I have a Soft Coated Wheaten terrier and I live way back in the woods. He is hyper vigilant over animals, birds, and even reflections on the walls or ceilings. Any time I get up from my chair he jumps up and starts barking. When it's time to go outside he barks over and over. Sometimes he stands at the edge of his confined area and barks late at night and won't come in. I know he was bred in Ireland for keeping rodents off the farms but he is making me deaf. He is also a jumper and SCWT breeders affectionately call this the Wheaten Greetin---NOT ACCEPTABLE! I don't get too many visitors but when he is around a lot of people for a while, he is much better, as though he thrives on kids and chaos. I needed him to be my "ears" way out here in the country but he is way too vocal. When he thinks he hears something outside and it's late at night, he'll "argue" with me about it, though not barking, but quite loudly. He's scared of riding in the car so has to ride in his crate. Other than all of this, he's a hoot! He loves to cuddle and get his ears rubbed and is a lover. And did I say HE'S CUTE!?

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Ninja kitty   Avon,

3/21/2013 3:39:01 PM

My foster, Seymour, barks at his own
reflection.
That means all night at windows, when ever he sees the mirror, and all day and night at the glass covering the fire place... My 3 dogs I own guard the house, but other than that they are quite. Please help. I need to get him to stop to help him find a new home. (He is a double dog rescue dog.)

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Tor   E, California

1/5/2013 1:33:29 AM

My dog will excessively, when we leave the house, when people arrive, when pieces of garbage drift down the road. We live in a calm arrive, with minimal amount of traffic.... But at times it does get to the point where we have to stand in front of the windows to try and avoid their chances of looking out the window to bark... help!

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