While people quickly recognize excessive barking, it’s harder to understand the reasons behind this canine behavior. There isn’t, unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all solution to unnerving barking, and it’s also not something that can be fixed without ongoing, determined effort (and a lot of patience). Sure, it can be a nuisance, but more than that, it can often be explained by something significant going on in a dog’s life.
The first thing to do is make an appointment for a wellness exam. Certain medical conditions can be connected to sudden changes in your dog’s behavior, especially barking. If barking suddenly increases along with other worrisome signs, like pacing, whining, lip licking, salivating, and other signs of distress it’s time to act.
A Look at Age
If your dog has never been much of a barker, but is a senior dog, the behavior can be linked to a loss of hearing, vision, or cognitive decline.
A younger dog that hasn’t learned when it’s appropriate to bark (territorial concerns, etc.) simply needs help with training. Stress and anxiety can lead a dog of any age to excessive barking.
Bored Dog Barking
If medical concerns have been ruled out, it’s time to address their environment. Dogs tend to bark when bored, and may end up looking out of windows or doors for any passersby, delivery trucks, or animals. Some pet owners may find relief by covering up windows or doors, but the underlying problem still needs to be addressed.
Most dogs require mental and physical stimulation throughout the day to ward off boredom, stress, and anxiety (and associated symptoms, like aggression or destructiveness).
Get That Body Moving
All dogs, but especially high-strung or very young ones, benefit from strenuous exercise at least once a day. Twice may be even better. Afterwards, they may be at ease at home and won’t rely on barking to keep them busy.
A lack of stimulation can be easily solved with food puzzles, licking mats, or stuffed Kongs. These engaging toys can add a satisfying dimension to unstructured, free time.
Beyond the Bark
Positive reinforcement training can help replace excessive dog barking with behaviors that you reward with praise or tasty treats. For example, teaching them how to sit quietly, yet alert, instead of pacing or barking furiously at triggers will eventually train them the way you expect them to behave. It may take some time, but this technique is totally worth it.
When dog owners move too quickly toward a hopeful resolution, the process can backfire. The important thing is not to punish or scold your dog for barking as it may reinforce the behavior instead of solve it.
Remember that your dog barks to communicate, but it can be tricky to understand exactly what they’re saying or what they want. If it’s not resolved effectively, barking can lead to surrendering or rehoming a pup, or getting evicted from your living situation.
If you need further assistance to help you prevent or reduce dog barking, our team is always here for you at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital. Please call us at (732) 531‑1212.