"Why Do Dogs Bark?"

Why do dogs bark?  In the canine world barking is their way of communicating, but if your dog's barking continues, it can soon become a real pain - for you and your neighbors!  Before you can stop a dog from barking you need to understand what's causing him to bark - learn how here.

"Why Do Dogs Bark Excessively?"

"My dog's barking is driving me mad! Why does he do this and how can I get him to stop barking?"

Why do dogs bark? Many things, including being bored, hungry, lonely, or frightened

I'm often asked questions like these, so I thought it might be useful for visitors if I answered them here, in an article about excessive dog barking.

Our Cockers may bark for lots of reasons, but generally, they're trying to communicate with us. For example, your dog may bark to let you know he's uncomfortable, bored, lonely, frightened, or provoked...and the list goes on!

If you listen carefully to your dog's barking you'll probably hear several different types of bark depending on what the 'problem' is and you may be able to work out what's wrong just by listening to the sound or the pitch of his bark.

For example, some barks sound light and non-threatening, (come play with me) and others can sound throaty and quite threatening, (stay away)  as in the case of fear, or where an intruder may be present.

Understanding why your dog is barking in the first place will help you to stop your dog barking by removing the problem and therefore his reason for being so vocal.

So, why do dogs bark?



12 Reasons Why Dogs Bark

Why do dogs bark?There are a number of reasons why your dog may bark:

Poor socialization
  1. skills can cause barking problems so socializing your puppy should be high on your priority list.

  2. Boredom or loneliness can be another trigger for your dogs barking.

  3. Attention seeking: Your dog may bark to get your attention: he may want to play, need a cuddle, or he may want to go for a walk, and barking is his way of letting you know.

  4. Separation anxiety is where a dog becomes anxious when it's left alone and can often lead to barking and destructive behavior.

  5. If your dog is uncomfortable; for example, he may be hungry, cold or wet he may bark to let you know.

  6. Another dog barking in the neighborhood may cause your dog to bark, or his barking may be triggered by a passing siren or car alarm. (Max occasionally howls when he hears a siren - it's such a long, low soulful sound too!)

  7. Your dog may have a painful medical condition which is causing him to bark.

  8. If your Cocker is territorial, he may be barking to protect his patch. Territorial barking usually applies to gardens and yards, but if your dog is with you in the car he may bark if someone approaches or gets too close to the car.

  9. Your dog may simply be saying 'Hello' to another person or another dog, although this type of barking doesn't usually continue after the initial greeting.

  10. Sometimes the simple reason why dogs bark is sheer habit. Habitual barking is difficult to remedy, but with time and patience, it is possible.

  11. Dogs don't like to be locked in a pen or tied to a stake in the ground and may become anxious if confined for too long and may begin to bark out of frustration.

  12. Your dog may be frightened of something which is causing  him to bark. An unusually loud  noise or bang such as thunder or fireworks could easily trigger a barking session.
     

How To Stop Your Dog Barking

Whilst we're happy for out pets to 'communicate' with us, we don't want the barking to continue past the point of altering us to a problem.

If your dog is barking excessively, before you can address it you need to find out why your dog is barking. Once you understand why, it will be easy for you to remove the problem for him and therefore his reason for barking will no longer exist.

Some of the solutions for stopping your dog barking are fairly obvious and straightforward. For example, if the children are teasing the dog and he's becoming frustrated and starts to bark - stop the children teasing the dog - it's as simple as that!

However, there are other barking behaviors aren't so straightforward and may require a little work, as follows:

Why Do Dogs Bark When The Doorbell Rings?

If you have a dog or puppy that's constantly barking, for example when visitors arrive, when or when he sees another dog or a stranger, it may be that your dog was not socialized enough and should be exposed to as many different objects and situations as you possibly can - and the sooner the better.

Solution:

Depending on how old your dog is will depend on how effective socialization can be. If he's still a puppy, socialization will help more however, if your dog is older, he may need help from a professional.

Socializing your puppy is such an important part of your dog's training and can help develop a good temperament and a well adjusted, happy Spaniel.

Dogs barking at visitors can be a great deterrent to burglars; however it can be a nuisance if they continue after we've invited our guests inside...! If your dog barks when visitors arrive this is a very effective way to stop your dog barking.

Why Do Dogs Bark?...He's Bored And Lonely

Your dog may be barking while you're out (perhaps your neighbors have had a quiet word?) because he's bored or lonely and you've left him alone for too long.

It's cruel and unfair to leave a dog on his own for long periods, but unfortunately some dogs are left alone almost all day long (every day) ...it's no the wonder they resort to barking.

Solution:

We can't always be around and there will be times when we need to leave our dogs for longer than normal. There are a few things you can do to help relax him and stop pet being bored or lonely while you're out:

  • Before you leave, take him for a brisk walk to help tire him out and with a bit of luck he may fall asleep in his crate!

  • Leave your Cocker a stuffed Kong to work on - that always keeps my dog busy!  In the summer months, I always have a couple in the freezer. I use whatever's to hand; (healthy) leftovers or pickings from the chicken or even some of his kibble softened in chicken stock, just remember to deduct it from his daily food allowance.

  • Leave a selection of safe chew toys and a cuddly toy to play with.

  • If he's going to be left on his own all day, ask a neighbor or a friend to pop in for an hour or so to take him for a walk, or let him into the yard or just play with him for a while to relieve his boredom.

  • Leave a radio on for him, preferably tuned into a chat show as the sound of voices may make him feel he's not on his own.

  • If it's around his feeding time, wait until just before you leave before feeding him. Cockers with little full tummies are happy Spaniels!

If you really can't devote more than 4 hours every day to a dog, then I would recommend you reconsider owning a dog until you have more time available.

Why Do Dogs Bark?...He's Attention Seeking!

Our Cockers seek attention in many ways and barking is often one of them.

For example, does your dog lie down with his front paws out-stretched, his bottom in the air, his tail wagging, barking playfully? Cute, isn't it?

But what happens if his barking becomes excessive - not so cute then is it?

Solution:

If you're certain that your Spaniel is barking for attention it's best to ignore him otherwise he'll come to learn that he can easily get what he wants simply by barking loudly! 

So the next time he barks for your attention, ignore him; look away and don't make eye contact. As soon as he stops and is quiet call him to you, ask him to sit and give him his toy, play with him or whatever it was he was 'demanding' when he was barking. 

He'll soon learn that barking doesn't get him what he wants, but being quiet does.

If your dog is often barking for attention, it might be a good idea to give him a little more attention; play with him, exercise him more, give him some training exercises or toys to stimulate his mind, but never when he's barking. You may see a difference in his behavior almost overnight.

Why Do Dogs Bark At People Passing The House?

Territorial behavior and a desire to protect his 'pack' will often be reason enough for some dogs to become vocal.

Solution:

Even though I had taught Max the 'Be Quiet' command when he was a puppy, our postman used to set him off barking and it was almost impossible to stop him.

In the end, I enlisted the help of our friendly postie and left a bag of treats nailed to the post above the gate (where Max couldn't reach) which the postman would collect on his way in. He'd take a couple of treats out of the bag and throw them towards Max as he came to 'greet' him.

Because Max can't bark and eat at the same time (he's not that clever!) he stopped barking. I asked him to sit and the postman threw him another treat and told him he was a good boy. We practiced this for a week and it wasn't long before my Cocker began to associate treats with the delivery of the mail and stopped barking when he arrived - job done!

If your dog barks constantly each time he's let into the yard, or when people pass by, you might find this article on how to stop dogs barking in the garden very helpful.

Why Do Dogs Bark When They're Left Alone?

Your dog may become anxious when he's left alone, even if you leave the room for a minute or two. Separation anxiety in dogs is no joke and can cause much misery for your little guy.

Solution:

If your dog get's worried the moment he sees you putting on your coat, or you can't go to the bathroom on your own...you're not alone!

The good news is that you can do something about it and I recommend you follow the advice given here to help you deal with it.

Why Do Dogs Bark?...He's Uncomfortable

On the subject of 'why do dogs bark', it may be that your pooch is barking to let you know he's not comfortable; he may be too hot, wet and cold, or he may be hungry.

Solution:

The solution is fairly obvious, isn't it?

If he's wet and cold because he's outside, bring him indoors and dry him off.

If he's hungry, feed him.

If your Cocker Spaniel is comfortable he's less likely to have a reason for barking...so make him comfortable and the barking will stop.

Why Do Dogs Bark When They're Frightened?

There are other dogs that are fearful and will bark if anyone walks alongside your property fence let alone approaches the garden gate or front door.

Solution:

You could try adding some kind of screening to your fence so that your dog can't see people passing or if you have a large yard, you might want to consider a large dog pen or run.

If your dog is kept indoors, try leaving the radio on to mask sounds which may set him off barking.

Underlying Medical Problem

If you can't work out why your dog is barking, it could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

Solution:

You groom your dog regularly, worm and de-flea him (so you know he's fine on that score) and you've checked him for signs of injury. It's probably time to take your dog to see his vet so that you can rule out any medical condition that's causing him to bark excessively.  

Why Do Dogs Bark Habitually?

If you've had your dog checked by his vet (and he's okay) but he's still barking for long periods of time and for no apparent reason, it could be that his non-stop barking has become habitual.

Habitual barking can be triggered by almost anything and once your dog begins to bark he just won't stop!

Solution:

Dogs that are tied up in the yard or are penned for long periods of time tend to become habitual barkers out of frustration so it's best not to confine your pet for too long.

Habitual barking is more difficult to remedy and you may need the services of a professional dog trainer or behavior therapist.

Before you turn to outside help you might like to try using the "Be Quiet" command.

This might sound dumb, but it's where you teach your dog to bark (I guess you'll be able to skip this part!) and then teach him to stop barking. Although with an habitual barker, this command may not be so easy to teach and not so effecitve, but it's worth a try - what have you got to lose?

You could also try using a barking correction collar to stop your dog from barking.


More Titles In The 'How To Stop A Dog Barking' Series

How To Stop Your Dog Barking Using The "Be Quiet" Command

This might sound dumb, but one of the simplest ways to stop your dog barking is to teach him to bark and then train him to stop barking...!

How To Stop Your Puppy Barking

In the wild, the pup's mother would stop her pup from barking by gently taking the pups muzzle in her mouth and growl...

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