8th February 2024
How to manage barking
Excessive barking can pose a problem for pet parents. Not only can barking lead to complaints from neighbours, but it can also create a lot of anxiety for both you and your dog.
As part of our dog training series, we’ve been supporting pet parents, like you, to train their canine companions at home. Although doggy homeschool sessions are usually focused on developing specific skills, dealing with your dog’s barking habit can involve training skills, too.
It can be challenging to manage mischievous barking on your own, which is why we’re with you every step of the way!
Why dogs bark
For dogs, barking is a way of communicating with us and letting us know how they feel about a situation. Dogs may bark to express their feelings, like frustration or excitement, or they might be barking because there’s something they want or need.
While barking can be a bit loud to us, it is a completely normal form of communication for our canine companions.
Speak to your vet if you notice a sudden change in your dog’s barking behaviours, because increased instances of barking could indicate an underlying health or behavioural problem.
What to do about excessive barking
If your dog has recently started barking a lot, you’re probably wondering what to do about it. ‘Excessive barking’ refers to:
- Frequent barking for long periods of time.
- Sustained barking for more than a couple of minutes.
- Barking during the early hours of the morning or late into the night.
Find the cause
Sometimes, a new barking habit could be your pooch’s way of telling you something isn’t right with their physical or mental health.
Here are some of the potential problems behind your dog’s excessive barking:
- Hearing issues.
- Overactive guarding instinct.
- Separation anxiety (usually when you aren’t home).
Any changes to your dog’s usual barking behaviour should be followed up with a vet, who might refer you to a local, qualified canine behaviourist. You can check whether a behaviourist is registered by visiting the CCAB Register of Practitioners.
Alternatively, reach out to the behavioural and veterinary experts over at Joii Pet Care, who are available 24/7 and offer online consultations from the comfort of your own home.
How to discourage your dog from barking
Providing your vet has ruled out all health and behavioural challenges as the cause of your dog’s barking, there are several ways you could manage excessive barking at home…
Make sure all their needs are met
Boredom can be a major cause of barking, so ensuring your pooch is properly exercised, fed, and entertained is a positive start!
Pay attention when they aren’t barking
Often, our dogs tend to bark when they want to get our attention. So, if you aren’t rewarding them with attention while they’re quiet, they’ll just keep barking!
An effective strategy involves monitoring when your dog barks most, and rewarding them the second they stop themselves from barking whenever faced with that situation. For example, if your dog barks every time someone walks past your living room window, you’ll need to praise them for not barking when someone walks past.
The more consistent you are with this training exercise, the quicker your pooch will learn when not to bark!
Marker word training is especially useful when discouraging your dog from barking – meaning it’s helpful if you and your pooch understand the basics (e.g. when to ‘mark’ and ‘reward’). It’ll also benefit both of you if you’re able to find the right reward for your dog.
Here’s our step-by-step guide to stopping your dog from barking:
Step 1 – Establish the cause of their barking. For example, some dogs are easily excited by the delivery of post or get vocal when an influx of people walk past the home for the school run.
Step 2 – Limit their access to the distraction. If, for instance, your dog spends a lot of time watching the world go by through a window, keep the curtains closed during times they’re most likely to bark, like the local school run times.
Step 3 – Now that you know when they bark most, and you’ve uncovered what they’re barking at, it’s time to distract your dog before the barking begins! By keeping your dog mentally stimulated and focused on a fun activity during the time they’d usually bark, you’re transforming a negative situation into a positive experience.
Fun ideas for dog-friendly distractions:
- Set up a Lickimat.
- Make a snuffle mat.
- Offer them a KONG filled with dog-safe paste.
- Give them a long-lasting, tasty chew.