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Why does my dog bark so much?

Posted on 16th November 2023


Barking Chihuahua on a grass verge next to water

Barking dogs! They can be a proper nuisance, can't they? If your dog is barking out and about, it can be really embarrassing. My dog barked loudly in the middle of a Christmas carol concert once!

Persistent barking in the home drives people mad and is one of the main reasons I am contacted for help.

However, barking is one of those normal behaviours. It's how dogs communicate. But it can also be stressful for your dog if they are unable to settle and switch off.

So why might your dog bark?


Health issues

If your dog has recently started barking more and it is unusual for them, it can be a sign that their hearing has lessened. Ask your veterinarian to check their hearing and have a good look in the ears to make sure.

Elderly dogs can develop a type of dementia known as CCD or Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. They can often be seen to bark for no reason due to degenerative changes in the brain.


Separation anxiety

Many dogs bark when left alone. Think of the feeling of being lost in the woods with no phone signal and it's starting to get dark. That's how they feel. Just as you would shout for help, our dogs bark to bring us back. And it works as at some point we come home.

If you think your dog has separation anxiety, please seek out a SA specialist -most will work with you very successfully online.


Territorial barking

Many dogs bark at people or dogs going past their house, often spending time looking out of the window, looking for a victim they can tell to "get off my land".

Protecting the place you feel the safest in is a normal behaviour. In fact, we breed dogs to do just this. Think of the Dobermann, bred to sit on doorsteps and wait for an intruder!


Attention / boredom barking

Let's have a look at this cycle of events. Your dog is bored or wants your attention. They approach you and you ignore them. They whine and you ignore them. They paw you and you ignore them. They bark, make you jump and you give them attention. You may even give them a treat to shut them up.

And thus begins a cycle of attention barking, reinforced by human responses.


So, what can you do about barking?


1. Understand why

Knowing why your dog is barking is the first step on being able to help. Consult a behaviour specialist if you are unsure.

2. Create a routine

Having predictability helps our dogs know what to expect and when. It can prevent a lot of attention barking.

3. Be proactive

Making sure you prevent predictable situations as far as possible can reduce a lot of barking problems. Blocking the view out the window, giving your dog an interactive toy or chew when you are eating or busy, training them to settle when asked and giving them the correct diet and exercise will really help.


Do seek the help of a qualified behaviourist if you are struggling with a barking issue, especially if this is causing a nuisance in the neighbourhood.

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