Reasons Your Dog May Be Barking

Published on Dec. 29, 2016

Reasons your dog may be barking: Territorial/Protective Behavior Your dog may be barking to guard his territory if: - The barking occurs in the presence of “intruders,” which may include the mail carrier, children walking to school and other dogs or neighbors in adjacent yards. - Your dog’s posture while he’s barking appears threatening – tail held high and ears up and forward. - You’ve encouraged your dog to be responsive to people and noises outside. Recommendations: - Teach your dog a “quiet” command. When he begins to bark at a passer-by, allow two or three barks, then say “quiet” and interrupt his barking by shaking a can filled with pennies or squirting water at his mouth with a spray bottle or squirt gun. This will cause him to stop barking momentarily. While he’s quiet, say “good quiet” and pop a tasty treat into his mouth. Remember, the loud noise or squirt isn’t meant to punish him, rather it’s to startle him into being quiet so you can reward him. If your dog is frightened by the noise or squirt bottle, find an alternative method of interrupting his barking (throw a toy or ball toward him). - Desensitize your dog to the stimulus that triggers the barking. Teach him that the people he views as intruders are actually friends and that good things happen to him when these people are around. Ask someone to walk by your yard, starting far enough away so that your dog isn’t barking, then reward him for quiet behavior as he obeys a “sit” or “down” command. Use a very special food reward such as little pieces of cheese or meat. As the person gradually comes closer, continue to reward his quiet behavior. It may take several sessions before the person can come close without your dog barking. When the person can come very close without your dog barking, have them feed him a treat or throw a toy for him. - If your dog barks while inside the house when you’re home, call him to you, have him obey a command, such as “sit” or “down,” and reward him with praise and a treat. Don’t inadvertently encourage this type of barking by enticing your dog to bark at things he hears or sees outside. - Have your dog neutered (or spayed if your dog is a female) to decrease territorial behavior. Fears And Phobias: - Your dog’s barking may be a response to something he’s afraid of if: - The barking occurs when he’s exposed to loud noises, such as thunderstorms firecrackers or construction equipment. - Your dog’s posture indicates fear – ears back, tail held low. Recommendations: - Identify what’s frightening your dog and desensitize him to it . You may need professional help with the desensitization process. Check with your veterinarian about antianxiety medication while you work on behavior modification. - Mute noise from outside by leaving your dog in a basement or windowless bathroom and leave on a television, radio or loud fan. Block off your dog’s access to outdoor views that might be causing a fear response, by closing curtains or doors to certain rooms. Separation Anxiety: - Your dog may be barking due to separation anxiety if: - The barking occurs only when you’re gone and starts as soon as, or shortly after, you leave. - Your dog displays other behaviors that reflect a strong attachment to you, such as following you from room to room, frantic greetings or reacting anxiously to your preparations to leave. - Your dog has recently experienced: a change in the family’s schedule that results in his being left alone more often; a move to a new house; the death or loss of a family member or another family pet; or a period at an animal shelter or boarding kennel. Extra information can be found at: