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Why is my dog barking? Some possible reasons and solutions

Updated on May 30, 2016
annerivendell profile image

Anne has a BSc Hons in Applied Psychology (including animal psychology) and has owned and trained several pets over a period of 30 +years.


Dog Barking Problem

Listening to a dog barking can be an annoyance for you and your neighbours.

But dogs bark for a reason and it’s important to find out that reason before you can teach him to stop barking:

  • He may be unwell
  • in pain,
  • cold
  • hungry.
  • lonely
  • or bored,
  • or perhaps he believes that he’s defending his territory.

Some dogs bark with excitement when you play with them, or when they play with other dogs.

But incessantly barking dogs are not happy dogs, so let’s take a look at some possible causes and cures.

Is my dog sick?

Obviously if your dog appears unwell or in pain, then you take him directly to the Vet.

But if he appears to be in good health, is eating normally and is enthusiastic about his walks, then you need to look for the reason for his barking elsewhere.

Is my dog hungry?

Where possible, feed your dog at the same times every day, and make sure that he’s getting enough.

Check with your Vet or breeder as to the right amount. It’s unfair to have your dog barking for his food every time, just as it would be cruel to have a child crying with hunger before feeding them.

If it is his usual feeding time and he’s barking, find a way of distracting him that’ll make him stop barking. Surreptitiously throw a ball beside him perhaps, or spray some water nearby, something that he won’t associate with you.

And then, when he’s stopped barking to investigate, bring him his food.

The reason for this is so that he will not connect his barking to you feeding him, which makes the habit very difficult to cure.

Next time, feed him a little earlier, before he starts barking.


Is my dog hot or too cold?

A dog barking to get indoors may just be cold.

Make sure his kennel is warm and dry, with no gaps or leaky roof, and provide a blanket for him to lie on.

Contrary wise, he may be too hot. If possible, keep the kennel in a sheltered spot, or close to the house, and always, always make sure there is plenty of water for him to drink, no matter what the weather.

If it doesn’t already have one, perhaps you could fit a door with a flap to the kennel. He’ll probably stop barking once he’s comfortable.


Is my dog lonely?

But barking dogs are sometimes lonely.

If it’s possible or practical to have your dog indoors with you when you’re at home then perhaps you would consider this. If not, go out to her as often as possible to reassure her. (But get her to stop barking first by distracting her, as above.)

Sometimes it may even be possible to bring her with you when you go out, but if not, or if there’s no one home for long periods, then see if you can arrange for a friend or neighbour to visit her now and again

Older children are often willing to do this as a favor. They enjoy the responsibility and both they and the dog will enjoy the interaction.


Is my dog bored?

A dog barking because she’s bored can be distracted.

There are various kinds of balls and toys available, some that can be filled with food for the dog to extract.

Use your imagination, or find something suitable in your local pet shop, or on-line. She’ll stop barking once she’s occupied.

When you are there, play with her and take her for walks.

Keep her stimulated and occupied as much as possible, but that doesn’t mean keep her over excited. That will just start the barking all over again.

How to stop your dog from barking

Shouting at a dog to stop barking is unlikely to work.

To the dog, it sounds like another dog barking back at her and is more likely to make the problem worse.

Positive reinforcement works. The moment you get her to stop barking, praise, praise, praise.

As a last resort, there are several devices on the market to train you dog to stop barking. These mostly work with high pitched sonic tones that humans can’t hear but are annoying to dogs.

They are triggered by the dog barking, and can be worn as a collar or placed near where the dog usually barks.

There are also others which give the dog a mild electric shock every time they bark. I would not recommend them, just as I don’t recommend hitting, kicking or otherwise punishing your dog by physical force for any reason.

This is just likely to produce a frightened or angry pet.


Is it okay to allow your dog to bark?

But sometimes, dogs just want to bark because they are excited and happy.

If it’s not late at night, and it doesn’t go on for a long time, then it’s okay to let him. Besides, remember that one of the reasons man encouraged barking dogs to stay around in the first place was because they would warn them of approaching danger.

So if you dog starts barking for no apparent reason, it might be a good idea to investigate as soon as possible.


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    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi happyhal. Thank you for your comment and your useful tips. I doubt you're imagining that your dog is answering you. It's happened to me too, with dogs and cats, too often to be coincidence.

    • happyhal profile image

      happyhal 5 years ago from Dallas, TX

      having been a "dog person" for most of my life, I pay attention to the bark as it is his conversation. I listen to the inflections, the tonal quality,and the repetition. Some times If I am just not getting it, I ask him what he is trying to tell me. Don't know if I am imagining it or not, but the next impression I get is often the thoughts he would have me know. When I respond to the "message" we usually get relief!

      Have had dogs that bark from boredom, but usually there is a cause behind the distress. Answer that and you have a quiet peaceful dog. If there is an annoying behavior, be careful that the response you give does not become a positive stroke to him. There should be a penalty for UN-wanted behavior. When you do nothing, you have a problem; what you need is for HE to have the problem if HE is causing you distress!

      I learned from a "dog trainer" to use a cheerio (serial) for positive reinforcement, as it is not the amount but the frequency.

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Thank you urmilashukla23

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 5 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Nice tips. Thanks for sharing it.

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      @DrMark1961 not a lot we can do about it if we can't see it. Thank you for reading the hub and commenting.

    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      What about barking because they see something we do not?