All You Need To Know About Dogs Barking And What You Can Do About It
If you have ever simply been curious, or you are a new pet owner who, out of despair, has asked themselves “ Why does my dog bark at me ?” you are certainly not alone.
The good news is that barking is completely natural and normal for canines and in many cases, should not be cause for alarm. In addition to tongue flicks, tail movement, body posture, ear position and many more significant actions, barking is one of their major vocal modes of communication.
Dogs can convey quite a number of messages to us humans from their barks alone.
Why Does My Dog Bark At Me ?
Depending on the situation, a bark can be interpreted in different ways. Here are the things a dog’s bark may mean:
They bark in excitement, as a form of greeting and when they are feeling playful:
Dogs bark as a way to greet humans and even other animals. When a dog barks to say hello, it would typically be an excited, high-pitched sound. The bark would usually be accompanied with repeated tail wagging and in some cases, jumping.
Also, you would probably hear your pet bark during interactive play with you or another animal. In that case, they are simply trying to say they are happy.
They bark to seek attention:
When trying to get your attention, your dog may bark. It could be a way of reminding you to fulfill a physical need, which could be hunger or thirst. When hot or cold or there is a need to poop or urinate or your dog is trying to remind you that it’s play time, he or she may do so by barking.
Pent-up energy is usually released through barking. So, if you haven’t taken your pet for a walk or played with them in a long time, the barking could be a way of letting you know it’s time to.
They bark to show they are in pain:
When a dog is in pain or suffering from an illness of any kind, they would usually let you know by barking.
They bark as a result of genetics:
All dogs bark but some more than others just because they are more prone to doing so. Genetics has simply designed them that way. For instance, it is a popular fact that beagles are the most vocal dogs. It is said that they were bred primarily for the purpose of howling to alert hunters to the presence of the animals being hunted, such as foxes and hares. Therefore, their barking is instinctive.
A few other dog breeds that bark a lot are terriers, miniature Schnauzers, Chihuahuas, Doberman pinschers and poodles. Breeds such as Italian Greyhounds, bull mastiffs, great Danes and golden retrievers, just to name a few, are more known for how quiet they usually are. It doesn’t mean they never bark, they just hardly do so.
They bark to signify alarm or fear:
When dogs feel startled at any point or are triggered by environmental signals, they bark. Noises, strange or unexpected sounds could also prompt it. A dog would probably bark when the phone rings, at the sound of a passing car or at the sight of an unknown person or object.
They bark as a result of territorial behavior:
Dogs bark when their territorial or protective instincts are activated. They usually have no way of telling if someone is only a passerby, friend or foe. Your dog would bark when he or she feels their territory is being invaded and if danger is perceived. This is usually accompanied with a look of alertness and even some aggression in a few cases.
They bark when they bored or lonely:
One of the things dogs love the most is to be a member of a pack. They thrive as part of a group. In the absence of fellow canines, their human families are regarded as their pack. It is simply a natural and inbred trait; therefore, they hate to be left alone for long periods. Your pet would bark when they miss you, when bored or lonely.
The barking could be a compulsive behavior:
Some dogs are simply compulsive barkers, though. In some cases, your pet may be barking just because he or she can and not for any reason in particular. It could also be caused by a desire for some stimulation, both mental and social.
THE ELEMENTS OF A DOG’S SOUNDS
It would help to understand that the sounds that dogs make are centered on three elements: the pitch of the sound, its frequency as well as its length.
The Pitch of the Bark:
If you would like to figure out what message your dog is trying to pass to you or to fellow canines, paying attention to the tone of the bark can give you a clear clue. A low pitched bark, like a growl, usually signifies anger, hostility, threats and the likelihood of violence; whereas a more high-pitched bark indicates openness, excitement or joy.
Another popular high-toned sound like a whine or a whimper could be used by one dog to signify to another that no harm will be done upon approach. The dog whimpering could simply be saying, “Don’t be threatened. I mean no harm.” Combined with certain body languages, a whimper could also mean excitement, anxiety, pain or frustration.
The Frequency of the Bark:
Quick, repetitive and persistent barks often indicate urgency or excitement. A substantial amount of barks which occur at a lower frequency also show excitement but only at a much lesser level while sporadic barks here and there reveal just a little interest.
If the barks happen in numerous, constant bursts within a short time, your pet could be trying to alert you to something critical which may require your immediate attention. It may even be something that could end up being a possible danger.
The Duration of the Bark:
The length of the sound, be it a bark or a growl, is another way for you to translate its meaning. If the sound is lengthier, it likely means the dog has made a conscious choice of the message being related and is fully sure of the next act to take.
For instance, a long, drawn out growl from a dog usually portrays a firm decision over an action towards whatever or whomever the growl is targeted at. If the opposite is the case, it means there is some fear and uncertainty over an action the dog may want to take.
Different types of barks and their meanings:
Now that a bit of light has been shed on the elements of dog sounds, we can now look to understand and interpret some of the most common types of barks.
- A rapid bark of a mid-range pitch:
This is the standard alarm bark.
- One or two sharp and short barks of a mid or high range pitch:
This is a typical bark of greeting. You may hear it replace an alarm bark when it has been confirmed that a perceived danger is actually friendly company.
- Mid-range pitch barking in quick bursts of 3 or 4 with pauses in between:
You would normally hear this when a dog senses an undefined but potential threat and is led to make an alerting call.
- A slow but continuous barking at a lower pitch:
This is when a threat has been fully established. It is a way of saying, “Prepare to defend.”
- A single and sharp but short bark of a low or midrange pitch:
This bark indicates annoyance. You may hear this when sleep or mealtime is disturbed.
- A lengthy series of single barks having intentional pauses between them:
A lonely dog calling out for companionship would release this type of bark.
- A single brief bark of a high or midrange pitch:
This bark shows surprise.
- The stutter bark with a midrange pitch:
Whenever this type of bark is heard, your dog is saying to you, “Come on! Let’s play!”
- A rising bark:
When you have agreed to indulge your pet in play time, particularly if you are about to throw a ball or a toy, you would most likely hear this type of bark. It shows your dog is having fun.
What are the best tips to stop excessive dog barking?
Barking comes with the territory of having a dog at home. However, let’s face it, excessive barking that occurs consistently can actually be nothing short of a nightmare. Except your dog is trying to alert you to the likelihood of danger, not a lot of good comes out of non-stop barking.
Sleep could end up being a far-away reality for you and those within the vicinity of the incessant barking as you are all kept awake at night. Except you are a person who is able to sleep through the most violent storm, you’re always left feeling irritable, cranky and stressed.
Excessive barking would ruin your chances of having an afternoon of peace and quiet. If you work from home, your productivity would significantly be reduced as obnoxious barking can disrupt your concentration.
It could put you on really unfriendly terms with your neighbors, especially when they, too, are affected by the noise. More importantly, because you may be too used to your dog barking at every single opportunity, you may actually fall into harm on the day the bark signifies a real threat.
The great news about all these is that though your dog barking unnecessarily could easily and quickly turn into many unpleasant things, there are effective ways to stop this.
- Determine why your dog is barking constantly.
Is it from anxiety or fear? Is it induced by pain? Is your dog trying to alert you to the possibility of danger? First finding out the cause of the excessive barking would let you know the next step to take.
- Where possible, applying a few environmental managing practices may just do the trick.
- If the barking is to raise an alarm or is caused by territorial behavior, it would help to utilize sight barriers, blocking your pet’s line of vision from things that are likely to set off barking.
For instance, you could install a privacy fencing to take away any views of the street or people walking by. If this isn’t feasible, you could try to keep your blinds or curtains closed or even make use of opaque windows.
- If it is triggered by separation anxiety, boredom or loneliness, you could create a doggy quiet zone. This quiet zone may comprise a crate, a play pen, a partition gate or a dog bed with a privacy cover. You could also include your dog’s favorite chew toy or quality food-dispensing toys to keep him or her occupied.
If there is going to be a prolonged absence, say, you’d be spending all day at work, get someone to walk or play with your dog for about an hour. Some pet owners have also found that leaving the radio on works like a charm. However, if all fails, you could also consider leaving your pet at a doggy daycare.
- A trip to your dog’s vet may confirm or rule out the possibility of an underlying illness.
- Train your pet.
Below are a few things you should do:
- Deal with the excessive barking behavior as early as possible. If it is allowed to carry on for too long, it becomes much harder to solve.
- Never raise your voice while your dog barks as you would only be making it worse. Your pet may think you are joining in. So, don’t shout; simply address your dog calmly but in a firm tone.
- Train your pet to understand the word ‘quiet’. One way to do this is when your dog is barking; in a gentle and calm but firm voice, say “Quiet”. Praise and give a reward when your dog becomes quiet, no matter how short the time of silence is. With consistency, after a while, your pet will associate an absence of barking with the word ‘quiet’.
- Ignore the barking itself. Only give in to what you sense the need is when your dog becomes quiet. For instance, if your dog barks to signify hunger or thirst, provide these only when they have settled down. Never give in while your dog barks, it would be reinforcing bad behavior.
Also, one of the best ways to stop excessive dog barking each time you come home is to ignore. Don’t pet or make eye contact till your dog settles down before acknowledging and praising.
- Sometimes, it helps to physically and mentally wear your dog out.
In a number of cases, excessive barking comes as a result of pent-up energy. So, if you haven’t, spend some time outside playing with your dog and getting in some much needed exercise.
- A controversial topic, making use of bark controlling devices may help.
However, this has to be as a last resort and some have to be used strictly by professional trainers. The following are some examples of items that help to control excessive barking:
- Citronella Collar: This works by releasing a burst of citronella whenever a dog barks. The taste of the citronella, as well as the sound made when it is sprayed works to significantly reduce or completely stop excessive barking. Check the price for bark collar from Amazon.
- Stress-Reducing Collar: These kinds of collars imitate dog calming pheromones. The pheromone is released by the dog’s body heat and is adapted to calm stress and lessen anxious barking. You can check the price for stress reducing collar from here.
- Dog Anxiety Jackets: These are designed to help soothe anxiety by applying mild but continuous pressure to calm fear and anxiety. It works effectively for compulsive barkers as well as those who are more likely to feel anxious. Check the Latest Price of Dog Anxiety Jacket Now.
- Ultrasonic Bark Deterrent Devices: Dogs usually dislike the startling ultrasonic sounds these types of devices release. According to reviews, they work for some dogs and are ineffective for others. However, it’s worth a try. Check the latest price.
- Some pet owners utilize shock collars. This isn’t typically advised as it has been considered an inhumane method of treating excessive barking. If it is to be used, though, it absolutely must be done by a professional. Here’s a search result for some shock collars
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
Hopefully, the question “Why does my dog bark at me?” has been answered. Barking is a completely natural trait for your pet.
“I’m so happy to see you. I’ve missed you!”
“Let’s go and play!”
These are all messages your dog could easily be telling you from his or her bark. Your dog’s bark may also be a way to help you protect your favorite ivory rug from fecal accidents. In some cases, it could even save your life.
However, excessive barking can be a problem. First establish the reason for it and then find the most appropriate treatment for it, whether it’s by making a few changes at home, training or going to the doctor.
Remember, always stay calm but also be firm, patient and consistent. You’d eventually see satisfying results.