Why do dogs bark?
It's their natural way of communicating. It's as simple as that. However, even though it's natural for dogs to bark, if your dog's barking is becoming excessive, it can soon become a real pain - for you and your neighbours!
Learn how to stop your dog from barking by understanding what's causing him to be vocal in the first place, and then dealing with it!
"My dog's barking is driving me mad! Why does he do this, and how can I get him to stop barking?"
I wish I had a pound for every time I'm asked this question! Dogs bark for many reasons, but it generally boils down to communication.
If your dog is barking, he's speaking to you.
He may be trying to let you know he's uncomfortable, bored, lonely, frightened, or provoked... the list goes on!
If you listen carefully to your dog's barking, you'll probably hear several different types of bark depending on the problem. 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 from barking by removing the problem and, therefore, his reason for being so vocal.
So, why do dogs bark?
There are more, but here are 12 reasons why dogs bark?
Sometimes our dogs bark for no reason other than they're excited to be outside or simply because they can.
Believe it or not, how you let your dog out into the garden can have a massive impact on his barking.
If your dog is excited, he will likely bolt through the door and begin barking automatically, simply because he's excited.
If your dog is calm, he'll step into the garden and begin sniffing or trot quietly to his toilet area and 'do the business'.
Obviously, you don't want your Cocker to bolt out into the garden.
The ideal situation is for your dog to sit calmly at the door, watch you open it, remain sitting, and only go through the doorway when you allow him to.
Time to break that bad habit before it drives you and your neighbours mad!
Whilst we're happy for our pets to 'communicate' with us, we don't want the barking to continue past the point of altering us to a problem.
As I mentioned earlier, once you understand what's causing your dog to bark, it will be easy for you to remove it; therefore, your dog's reason for barking will no longer exist.
Some solutions for stopping your dog from barking are pretty evident and straightforward.
For example, if the children are teasing the dog and he's becoming frustrated and starts to bark, stop the children from teasing the dog. It's as simple as that!
However, other barking behaviours aren't so straightforward and may require a little work, as follows.
Dogs often bark when the doorbell rings. Some dogs bark once or twice and let it go as soon as their owner answers the door.
Others continue barking until the visitor enters, giving them time to check out the 'intruder'.
And some dogs just go loopy when the doorbell rings, and there is no stopping them!
If your dog barks like a demon when visitors arrive (or when he sees another dog or a stranger), it may be your dog wasn't socialised enough.
In that case, your Cocker Spaniel should be exposed to as many different objects and situations as possible: the sooner, the better.
For socialisation to be effective, it must be applied while your Cocker is still a puppy, between 6 and 12 weeks old.
If a puppy is socialised between these ages, your puppy is more likely to grow into a confident, self-assured adult dog. Nothing will phase him.
If your dog misses the socialisation window, it may not be too late; however, any socialisation carried out may not be as effective.
Your dog may have developed, for example, a fear of men, noise, or traffic. Reversing these fears will take additional effort; you may even need professional help.
In some cases, where his behaviour cannot be changed, your dog may have to endure a life of being scared of his own shadow.
Socialising your puppy is essential to your dog's training and will help develop a good temperament and a well-adjusted, happy Spaniel.
Dogs barking at visitors can be a significant 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 from barking.
Your dog may be barking while you're out (perhaps your neighbours 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 wonder they resort to barking.
We can't always be around, and there will be times when we need to leave our dogs for longer than usual. There are a few things you can do to help relax him and stop your pet from becoming bored or lonely while you're out:
If you can't devote more than 4 hours every day to a dog, I recommend you reconsider owning a dog until you have more time available.
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 continues and becomes annoying - not so cute then, is it?
Our Cockers seek attention in many ways, and barking is often one of them.
If you think your Spaniel is barking for attention, it's best to ignore him; otherwise, he'll 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.
Eventually, he'll 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, and give him some training exercises or toys to stimulate his mind, but never when he's barking.
You may see a difference in his behaviour almost overnight.
Territorial behaviour and a desire to protect his 'pack' will often be reason enough for some dogs to become vocal.
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 simultaneously (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 practised this for a week, and it wasn't long before my Cocker began to associate treats with the mail delivery and stopped barking when he arrived. Job done!
If your dog barks constantly each time he's let into the garden or when people pass by, you might find this article helpful to stop dogs barking in your garden.
Your dog may become anxious when 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.
If your dog gets 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.
On the subject of 'why do dogs bark', it may be that your pet is barking to let you know he's not comfortable; he may be too hot, wet and cold, or hungry.
The solution is pretty obvious, isn't it?
If he's wet and cold because he's outside in the cold and it's raining, 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.
Other dogs are fearful and will bark if anyone walks alongside your property fence, let alone approaches the garden gate or front door.
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.
If you can't figure out why your dog is barking, it could indicate an underlying medical condition.
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 causing him to bark excessively.
If you've had your dog checked by his vet (and he's okay), but he's still barking for long periods and for no apparent reason, it could be that his barking has become habitual.
Habitual barking can be triggered by almost anything, and once your dog begins to bark, he just won't stop!
Dogs tied up in the garden or penned for long periods tend to become habitual barkers out of frustration, so it's best not to confine your pet for too long.
Habitual barking is more challenging to remedy, and you may need the services of a professional dog trainer or behaviour 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 a habitual barker, this command may not be so easy to teach and not so effective, however, it's worth a try - what have you got to lose?