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10 Ways to Curb Your Dog's Excessive Barking
DogsBehavior

10 Ways to Curb Your Dog's Excessive Barking

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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Barking is an essential part of dog communication, and people have learned to interpret those yips, borks, and boofs with surprising precision. But as helpful as doggie speak can be, sometimes it gets so excessive that it shatters the peace in your home and neighborhood.

To figure out how to stop your bestie from barking at everything, it helps to walk a mile in their paws and learn the reasons they do it.

1

Canine sentry system activated

Barking dog on the leash outdoors. Photoboyko/ Getty Images

Our canine buddies believe they have crucial jobs to do. One of their primary responsibilities is keeping an eye (and ear) on things and issuing warnings to their pack, which includes their humans when anything seems out of place.

Heads up, I see something, is essentially what they're saying. It can be reassuring to know your dog will alert you to a stranger approaching your house, but this warning behavior can get out of hand and become a nuisance.

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2

They're craving the spotlight

Small yellow dog standing on hind legs next to his owner and barking Kerkez/ Getty Images

Once your dog has figured out, you'll give them attention when they bark; they'll keep doing it.

Some pups get out of hand with the bossiness, demanding treats, petting, toys, you name it. Lots of pet guardians end up trained by their pets to respond to their vocal commands. The way to stop it is to teach your demanding doggo more pleasant ways to request your services.

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3

Plain old boredom

Beautiful white shepherd puppy sitting on the apartment floor yawning. Kosijerphotography/ Getty Images

Just like us, dogs need mental stimulation. A bored pooch sometimes barks repetitively, kind of like a child whining, mom, I'm bored!

Expect this type of vocalizing when a pooch is alone at home, and it has the potential to go on for hours, resulting in both cranky neighbors and a hoarse canine.

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4

An unknown fear

Dog barks at a cat, who is sitting in a drawer. Catherine Falls Commercial/ Getty Images

Have people stopped dropping by your place because your fur baby acts like a raving maniac when they walk in the door? It can be frightening to visitors, particularly children, when a big dog barks like crazy — snarling, spit flying, and teeth showing.

A dog that's afraid might seek comfort on a couch or other favorite spot in the middle of their barking fit, and they tend to back away from people, not charge toward them.

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5

Old-fashioned anxiety

Small dog jack russell terrier lying on sofa and have aggression to owner Yaraslau Saulevich/ Getty Images

If you're getting complaints from neighbors that your ordinarily well-behaved dog is barking nonstop while you're at work, separation anxiety could be to blame.

If possible, set up a pet cam to see what your doggo gets up to while you're gone. You might uncover a simple explanation, like woof-inducing squirrels outside a window.

If it seems your dog starts whining and howling the moment you leave, talk to a vet about solutions for anxiety. Behavioral modification and medication can help calm your anxious pup.

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6

An overreaction

a big black dog barks Natalia POGODINA/ Getty Images

Some dogs bark for perfectly ordinary and acceptable reasons — the doorbell rings, you pick up their leash, a strange dog passes their yard — but the volume and duration of their barking are totally out of the norm; it seems that your pupper is being a total drama queen.

Actually, they might have a buildup of emotions that they're releasing through vocalizations instead of in a quieter way.

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7

Age-related issues

Small mixed breed dog barking at carpet Capuski/ Getty Images

When your dog gets up in years, you might observe them barking apropos of nothing, what some term "wandering barking," which is a potential symptom of cognitive decline.

If you think your senior pet might be dealing with doggy dementia, consult a vet to rule out other medical causes and inform you about potential treatment options.

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8

Barking at nothing

Dog barking and howling Capuski/ Getty Images

Not only do some dogs bark at everything, they'll also bark at nothing — or so it seems. Assuming your pet doesn't have an underlying medical issue that's prompting all the commotion, they could be responding to sounds you can't hear and sights you can't see.

Little Gizmo's ears pick up high-pitched sounds we don't hear, and they also see better in the dark than humans. It might seem like a dog is kicking up a fuss about a ghost in the house, but the odds are they're alerting you to something in the physical realm.

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9

When to be concerned

Two adorable border collie puppies sit in front of a veterinarian as one playfully growls at the other causing the other puppy to look scared. FatCamera/ Getty Images

If barking at everything is a new behavior for your best buddy, schedule a consultation with a vet to probe further.

In addition to doggie dementia, increased bouts of vocalizing can be due to various medical issues, like deafness, blindness, high blood pressure, a brain tumor, or pain. Once you find out what's going on with Bowser, you can take steps to address the root cause.

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10

What to do about excessive barking

Senior Man with Long Haired Dachshund adamkaz/ Getty Images

If your dog's barking has gone beyond communication and into the realm of crazy-making, the first step to reduce it is to identify the cause.

If you have no clue why your pooch is freaking out, keep a journal of times and situations that trigger the episodes. Once you've pinpointed a trigger, use positive reinforcement to swap the bark response with another behavior, and make sure your doggo gets lots of exercise to burn off energy and reduce anxiety.

You can also help stave off boredom with food puzzles and visits to doggie daycare for a more peaceful pet.

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