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Why do dogs bark?

Jack Russel barking in field advice
© Shutterstock

Dogs bark, it’s a fact. But when a dog has excessive barking problems, dog owners should look into it. Does your dog spend all day barking and you can’t figure out what he’s trying to tell you? This article should answer your questions.

By Emilie Heyl

Dogs bark for many reasons: attention seeking, separation anxiety, boredom, or alarming their dog owner. Teaching your dog to bark at the right time is important to avoid excessive barking. And rewarding your dog when he has been good is crucial while training your dog. The dog owner needs to understand what is triggering the bark. 

The dog trainer’s opinion on the different kinds of barking 

It is important to understand what is triggering your dog’s bark. Analyse the different types of barking. If you know why your dog barks, you can treat the cause before dealing with the rather behaviour itself. 

It is essential because your dog’s behaviour is a response, so when he barks, it is not to annoy you, nor is it just to create problems with your neighbours, even if this will inevitably happen if you do nothing to stop the barking. For example, if your dog barks because he is bored and doesn’t enjoy being alone for a long time, you should leave him something to keep him busy during his long days alone.
If your dog barks in your presence, it is because he has learnt that you react to it. You need to learn to ignore him when he is barking and only give him your attention when he is calm in order to make him understand what he must and must not do. 

It is possible that your dog barks because of what he can see through the window or through the garden fence. By putting him in another room where he can’t see out the window or using a fence that blocks the view, you will no doubt reduce the barking, partially or even entirely. 

Understanding what makes your dog bark must be the first step to resolving this problem. 

Why do dogs bark?  

  • Boredom: a dog expresses the stress of being alone and/or is calling to anyone who can hear 
  • Vision: he can see people, other dogs or a cat on a wall and is getting frustrated, calling them or simply barking because he wants to join them
  • Noises: he hears a door slam or the lift, children in the street, another dog barking in the distance 
  • Attention: he is looking for someone to give him attention and it works, even if it is only to shut him up
  • Compulsive behaviour: barking has become a ritual that reassures him, he doesn’t need a reason, barking is a habit. 
  • Fear: the dog barks to reassure himself, like a child talking loudly or talking to imaginary friends to feel less alone and give him courage 
  • He’s talking: some dogs have learnt to talk to their owners and bark to express themselves, this is quite rare