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Dogs

Why Do Dogs Bark And How to Calm Them Down

Dogs bark for many reasons, but it can be alarming when they do. Almost every dog owner has experienced that feeling at some point. It might seem like a never-ending stream of noise, and it’s sometimes hard to know what to do to calm the four-legged friend down. Unfortunately, constant barking can be stressful for them as well and can lead to further behavioral problems.

There are steps you can take as a pawrent to reduce your dog’s tendency to bark. Understanding why he does is a good first step in finding solutions that work for you. Let’s take a look at why dogs bark and how you can help them relax if they feel the need to do so.

Why do dogs bark?

Dogs bark for many reasons, but most often it is to communicate or mark territory. Dogs that bark at passing people, cars or other animals are usually trying to warn them off their territory or are simply trying to make their presence known. There are a number of reasons for our furry friends to do so, but it is important to note that barking is always an instinctive behavior.

Your dog doesn’t stop to think “I’m bored” or “I’m anxious” and then bark. Although excessive barking can be harmful, it is not a sign of aggression.

What to do when my dog barks?

If your dog is barking, and you pay no attention, he’ll likely keep barking. For this reason, it’s important not to reward your dog when he barks, especially if he has a habit of barking while you’re out. If you reward him by giving him attention while you’re gone or by coming home early because he’s barking too much, he’ll learn that this behavior gets him what he wants.

Barking for attention is a common with puppies, and will likely stop on its own as your dog matures. If your dog is barking for attention, ignore him completely. Don’t speak to him, don’t look at him, and don’t offer him treats or snacks. If he is barking while you are at home, consider moving to another room.

What are the reasons for dogs to bark?

Frustration

If your dog barks while you’re away, he may be barking out of frustration. If you work all day, leave your dog home alone for long hours, and he has nothing to keep him busy, he may get bored and start barking. In this case, you can use training to redirect the barking.

Dogs that have a healthy amount of exercise and stimulation typically don’t bark as much, so you might also want to look at his routine and health to see if there is anything you can do to help him.

Boredom barking

Some dogs bark out of boredom and if you’re not paying attention to your dog while you’re at home, he may try to get your attention with barking. You can help prevent this by playing with him when you’re home but note that simply walking your dog is not enough – your four-legged friend also needs to be given other mental and physical stimulation.

Try to give your dog more exercise. Dogs often calm down when they’ve had enough exercise.

Anxiety

Barking is one of the ways that dogs express their emotions, and some dogs are more vocal than others. If your dog is barking a lot, he may be stressed or anxious about something in his environment.

They can be stressed for a number of reasons, including changes in the environment like construction, loud noises (ie. thunder), changes in your routine, or simply not having enough physical and mental activities.

Takeaway

Almost every dog barks from time to time, and occasional barking is usually normal. If your dog is barking excessively or barking at things that don’t necessarily indicate that he is stressed or anxious, however, it is important to try to identify the cause, so you can help him. What you feed your dog, the amount of exercise he gets, and the amount of mental stimulation he gets can all affect how often your dog barks. By taking these factors into account, you can help your dog communicate in a positive and productive way.

Header Image Credit : Isabel Vittrup-Pallier – Unsplash

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Claire Howell

Claire Howell

Claire Howell is a Knoxville-based veterinarian who loves nature and all types of animals, from dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and rabbits. She graduated from a vet diploma in 2013 and has been working as a vet since. Claire lives with her husband and two children - both of whom are also animal lovers!

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