It’s normal to hear your dog bark. Barking is a dog’s way of vocally communicating with us.
Why does your dog bark at you and not at your husband? Just like humans, dogs feel threatened when approached by people or things they are not familiar with, for example. Your dog may be aggressive towards you because they are not familiar with you; they fear you or don’t like you.
Other than what we think we know, why exactly do dogs bark, and how can you distinguish between these barks?
Why Do Dogs Bark?
It’s almost impossible to find a dog that doesn’t bark. Barking is a natural instant for dogs. So, why do dogs bark?
1. Territorial Barking
Although dogs are domesticated and friendly, by nature, they are territorial animals. Their territories may often include their home, the area surrounding it, their owner’s car, their owners, or anywhere they spend a lot of time. Dogs often feel threatened by people, other dogs, or other animals approaching or within their territories. Intruders often trigger fear in dogs. As a way of defending their territories, they ward off and scare away intruders by barking.
2. Alarm Barking
If your dog barks at any new sight or noise, it’s probably alarm barking. Dogs usually bark at unfamiliar objects, noises, or people that scare them or draw their attention.
How can you distinguish between alarm barking and territorial barking?
- Territorial barkers are mainly concerned with protecting their territories, so they will only bark at strangers who approach them.
- On the other hand, alarm barkers will bark at new people or things wherever they are, whether inside or outside their territory.
- Dogs engaged in alarm barking typically have a stiffer body language and tend to charge towards the foreign object or person.
Alarm barking is typical in insecure dogs and dogs that haven’t been acquainted with people outside their human family.
3. Greeting Barking
If your dog looks relaxed and excited when they see new people or animals, then they might be barking in greeting. Greeting barking is usually accompanied by jumping, whining, tail wagging, or other friendly gestures.
4. Attention-Seeking Barking
Some dogs may bark to get people’s attention, as a sign that they want food, to go outside, play, or when they want a treat.
5. Compulsive/ Separation Anxiety Barking
Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety usually bark excessively when left alone. According to a study, 13-18% of dogs suffer from some form of separation anxiety. Compulsive barkers generally bark just to hear themselves and often engage in repetitive movements such as running back and forth along a fence or running in circles.
6. Loneliness/ Boredom Barking
Dogs often move in packs, so they become sad and bored when left alone for long periods. In such a case, they bark to show that they are unhappy.
7. Socially Facilitated Barking
Some dogs will bark when they hear other dogs barking, even at a distance.
8. Frustration-Induced Barking
Dogs usually bark when they find themselves in a frustrating situation, like when they are tied up, constrained, or when they can’t go out to play.
There are many reasons why dogs bark. They range from protecting their territories to seeking attention.
When Does Your Dog Barking Become Problematic?
It’s normal to hear your dog bark. Most dog owners like to listen to their dogs bark. However, in some cases, a dog’s barking can be excessive and often problematic.
So, when does your dog’s barking become problematic? As a dog owner, it’s up to you to figure out when the barking is reasonable and when it requires your attention.
For instance, your dog’s barking may be a problem if it bothers your neighbors and disrupts your peace. Barking may also be a problem for your dog if it’s induced by fear or anxiety.
Getting to the root cause and identifying your dog’s motivation for barking is the only way to find a solution.
Why Do Dogs Bark at Nothing?
How Can You Train Your Dog to Bark Less?
Barking comes naturally to dogs. In as much as you can’t teach your dog to stop barking, you can train them to bark less.
Training a dog will take time. With positive reinforcements, patience, and consistent training, you’ll have the desired results. According to a study, dogs trained using positive reinforcement are likely to exhibit fewer behavioral problems.
The following are do training techniques you can use:
1. The Quiet Method
When your dog starts barking at a stranger, allow them to bark a few more times, then calmly say, “Quiet.” Avoid shouting at your dog, as this will result in negative reinforcement. If they stop barking, reward them with a treat. Repeat the process and reward them each time they stop barking. Research shows that a dog’s obedience is positively correlated with the number of tasks they were trained on using rewards.
2. The Distraction Method
You can distract your barking dog and divert their attention towards you by jingling your keys. Once you’ve gained their attention, you can tell them, “sit” or “quiet” and reward them with a treat for cooperating.
3. The Human Socialization Method
If your dog is barking due to a lack of human socialization, you can familiarize them with humans through exposure. Invite people to your house at different times and ask them to be affectionate to your dog and provide treats.
If you practice these methods consistently, your dog will begin to learn that barking at unfamiliar people and objects doesn’t produce a treat and that less barking is to their advantage and gets them what they want.
- Why Does My Dog Growl at Me? Dogs growl when they feel that their territories are being invaded, when in pain, or when they feel anxious.
- Why Does My Dog Bite People? Your dog may bite you or others out of fear, signal that they are in pain or sick, as a defense mechanism, or protect their territories.
- Why Is My Dog Suddenly Aggressive Towards Me? Your dog’s aggression may be caused by fear, sickness, or injuries. Taking your dog to the vet will help to establish the root cause.
- Why Does My Dog Suddenly Start Barking at Night? Dogs may bark at night since they are anxious and frustrated to be away from you; they might need to pee or poop, be sick or in pain, or have detected movement or heard an unfamiliar sound.
- Which Breed of Dogs Barks the Most and Which Ones Bark the Least? Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Bloodhounds, Yorkshire Terriers, and Beagles are very loud dogs. On the other hand, Basenjis, English and French Bulldogs, and Great Danes are less noisy.