The barking dog

Excessive barking can be a major problem for pet owners and can lead to eviction, legal action and relinquishment.

OVERVIEW

Barking is a form of communication for dogs. However, excessive barking can become a big problem for pet owners and the neighbourhood.

A dog's bark expresses different emotions like pleasure, fun, loneliness, fear, or stress. There are many different types: bark, growl, howl, and whimper.

Understanding a dog's voice will help you understand what it is trying to say.

Type of vocal Description
Growl A dog growls when it feels threatened. This may be followed by aggressive (wanting to attack) behaviour, especially when the dog bares its teeth.
Warning Bark The warning bark usually starts out as a quiet, low toned bark. As the dog feels more threatened, its voice can turn into a howling bark. This type of bark is usually heard when a stranger is approaching its territory, as when a postman delivers a package.
Alarm Bark The alarm bark is the dog's way of communicating to us that it wants attention. Dogs may bark a couple of times to alert us to an event, or they may bark at the same pitch until action is taken. The dog makes this bark when it hears an unusual noise like a doorbell or car alarm.
Howls Howling is a form of long-range communication. In the wild, dogs howl to locate other pack members. A domesticated dog can howl when separated from its owner.
Whine This high-pitched vocalisation is often produced through the nose when the dog's mouth is closed. The whine often means the dog wants something like food, a walk, or to go outside.

Unfortunately, excessive barking can be a major problem for pet owners and can often lead to eviction, legal action and relinquishment.

CAUSES

Common causes of excessive barking:

  • Noise phobia
  • Separation anxiety
  • Compulsive behaviour
  • Attention-seeking
  • Pain
  • Territorial
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Genetics

Breeds that are known for excessive barking:

  • Beagle
  • Yorkshire terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • German Shepherd
  • Pomeranian
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Siberian Husky

MANAGEMENT

Tips to help manage barking:

  • Avoid rewarding bad behaviour by ignoring it
  • Appropriate exercise for the breed and life stage of the pet
  • Appropriate mental stimulation with toys
  • Avoid stimuli that are known to cause fear or anxiety
  • Remove the dog from the triggers such as leaving them indoors when you are away
  • Addressing any pain or discomfort through regular vet checks
  • Training to 'sit', 'come', and 'stay'
  • Positive reinforcement for good behaviour
  • Safe anti-barking collars or systems