Dogs bark for one primary reason — to communicate. But you knew that. The real question is, what is your dog trying to say when it barks? The reasons dogs bark can typically be bucketed into seven categories, which we’ll explore in more detail and offer tips for controlling unwanted barks:
- Injury or illness
Dogs have simple minds: They quickly associate actions with reactions. If they bark and you yell, they think you’re joining them. If they bark and you take them inside and give them a treat, they think they’ve done a good thing.
That’s why it’s important to understand reasons dogs bark so you can train them that you’re the top dog. When you give a command, they stop barking.
With so many triggers for a dog’s bark, it’s hard to know what to do to quiet it, isn’t it? For most dog owners, the longer they have their pet, the better they get to know what their animals’ sounds mean. A high-pitched yipping bark might be an alarm for a backyard invader. A rapid loud non-stop bark might mean someone is at the door. A short, quick yelp might mean “I want out” while a howl might mean it’s suffering from separation anxiety.
Alarm Barks: My Dog Barks At Everything
What an alarm bark sounds like: An alarm bark tends to be loud, nonstop, and rapid.
Why your dog alarm barks: If your dog seems to bark at every little noise and every person or thing that passes by your home, he’s just doing his job. The problem is that you haven’t provided on-the-job training, to let him know when it’s OK to bark, for how long it’s OK to bark, and what to do instead of barking.
When your dog barks in alarm, he thinks something is wrong. Someone or something has invaded his territory. She heard a noise and she’s protecting her territory.
How to control alarm barks: To control alarm barks when you are home, use a combination of verbal commands with an ultrasonic training device. Ultrasonic trainers are easy to use, inexpensive and convenient. Our trainers use them on their own dogs and keep several in various rooms in their homes, so they’re within reach when their dogs begin alarm barking.
Controlling alarm barks may be more difficult when you are not home. We recommend closing windows so your dog can’t see outside and using white noise, a TV or music to drown outside noises that trigger alarm barks. Also, a well-exercised dog is less likely to engage in alarm barking and more likely to relax and sleep while you’re away.
Anxiety Barks: Why Dogs Bark at Night and When Left Alone
What anxiety barks sound like: An anxiety bark sounds like a cry, whine or howl and might be mixed with periods of silence.
Why your dog barks with anxiety: Separation anxiety causes dogs to bark when you leave them alone, and some dogs will experience anxiety when you crate them or at night when you go to bed.
Dogs are pack animals, and when left alone or cut off from their pack, some breeds, such as beagles, tend to bark and even become destructive. You might find puddles from a dog with separation anxiety.
How to stop anxiety barks: If your dog begins to exhibit signs of anxiety as you gather your things and get ready to head out the door, you can use an ultrasonic dog training device to correct the barking behavior, which we recommend combining with positive rewards.
Positive rewards that work well include favorite treats and toys that you give to your dog only when you leave home. That way, she’ll associate your absence with something she loves.
You might also try a puzzle treat for your dog, which is a treat or toy tucked into another device that your dog has to work to retrieve. This will keep him busy for a while after you leave.
Attention Barks: Dealing With a ‘Velcro’ Dog
What attention barks sound like: They’re short and quick, as if your dog is saying, “Hey you!”
Why does your dog become needy all of a sudden? Is your dog a “velcro dog”? They cling to you, follow you wherever you go, and bark when you’re ignoring them?
They’re lonely and bored. They want a treat or to play. The behavior can be cute for a few minutes, and then it quickly turns annoying. Some dog breeds are more prone than others to being needy, especially the breeds that fall into the lapdog and working dog classifications.
How to stop attention barks: If your dog barks to get your attention, you can retrain this behavior. Increase their exercise so they’d prefer a nap while you’re busy. Give them something to do, such as a puzzle toy or snack. Create a special place for them, perhaps in a comfortable bed or crate, and teach them a command so they know to go there when you issue the command. Some trainers give treats or favorite toys when dogs go to their special places.
An ultrasonic training tool can be used to stop unwanted barking behaviors as well. This helps your dog associate the demanding, bossy behaviors with negative but not harmful consequences.
Frustration Barks: When Your Dog Wants Something
What frustration barks sound like: The frustration bark sounds like a combination of an anxiety bark and an attention bark. It’s a short, frequent — and loud — yip.
Why does your dog bark in frustration? They’re confined, restricted or can’t reach something (a toy or you). You might be OK with a short occasional frustration bark, especially if your dog is trying to get a toy that’s rolled under the couch. How else is he supposed to get your help?
Some dogs engage in frustration bark at night when their people have gone to bed and the house is quiet. They want to be with you, and they want you to play. It’s important not to give into this type of barking behavior because that reinforces the dog’s test. He yipped, and you responded. Success!
How to stop frustration barks: Teach your dog that you are top dog by stopping the frustration barks. It’s OK to alert you when he can’t reach a toy, but it’s not OK to demand a treat, toy or something else just because he’s bored.
Make sure your dog gets enough exercise, so that need for activity is satisfied. Use a training tool like the Barx Buddy to curtail frustration barks.
Greeting Barks: Overly Friendly Dogs
What greeting barks sound like: They’re not as loud as alarm barks, but they’re constant and might even sound “happy.” The pitch tends to be higher and filled with excitement.
Why your dog engages in greeting barks: This one’s easy: Someone new has arrived, and your dog loves people!
How to stop greeting barks: Your dog might love people, but not all your visitors will love your dog in return, especially if she barks, nips, and jumps when they arrive. To control your dog’s barking when you come home or when visitors arrive, follow these steps:
- Keep an ultrasonic training device by your doors, so you can use it in combination with your verbal cues to quiet your dog.
- Don’t encourage your dog to greet visitors, and don’t respond when your dog is barking at you when you come home.
- Tell your visitors not to respond to your dog when she’s barking at them. While you train your dog with commands and the training tool, let your guests know that as soon as your dog has calmed down, it’s OK to invite her over for a hello and belly scratch.
Read more on this topic in our guide to dog barking, When Dogs Bark at Strangers, Visitors, and Intruders.
Injury or Illness Barks: A Dog in Distress
What painful barks sound like: When a dog is in distress, his barks are low, quiet, mixed with whines and may even sound breathy, like he’s panting.
What to do if your dog is in distress: We’ll keep this short and simple: If your dog is in distress, it’s important not to try to correct her barks. Call your vet.
Response Barks: Why Dogs Bark at Each Other
What response barks sound like: They might echo a neighbor’s barking dog, or their barks might sound short and loud, even howling and whining.
Why dogs bark at each other: Dogs engage in response barking for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s just to join the fun. We know a Yorkshire terrier who’d engage in response barking when her owners had guests over; as the conversation levels would increase, the Yorkie would join in with her barks. While the behavior was cute for a few minutes, it became an annoyance after a while.
Dogs will also bark when they hear other dogs barking. You might recall the “twilight bark” from the movie “101 Dalmatians”? It was an idea that dogs pass along messages daisy-chain style, across hundreds of miles. Of course, this isn’t true (as far as we know!), but barks are infectious. When one dog hears another dog bark, they join the conversation.
How to stop response barks: Response barks might be the easiest of all barks to train. Your dog is testing you by his response barks. As soon as it starts, use your Barx Buddy ultrasonic training tool to stop it in its tracks. Your dog will quickly learn that just because Rex next door is barking doesn’t mean it’s OK for him to bark, and when you’re talking with your guests, your dog’s job is to listen.
Training Dogs Not to Bark
To learn more about the Barx Buddy ultrasonic training device and how it should be used to train your dog not to bark, visit the product page. You can contact us with questions, or visit our blog to explore more topics on dog training.