Does your dog bark excessively? Want to know why? Keep reading for tips on how to manage excessive barking.

Dog owners can find excessive barking to be a huge problem. Neighbours and landlords can complain leading to legal action being taken and eviction. Sometimes dog owners may need to relinquish their pet due to this behavioural problem.

Dogs communicate through barking. They can whine, bark, growl, or howl depending on what they are feeling. See below to find out what each of your dogs barking type is trying to tell you:

Growl A dog growls when it feels threatened. This may be followed by aggressive (wanting to attack) behaviour, especially when the dog bares its teeth.

Warning Bark The warning bark usually starts out as a quiet, low toned bark. As the dog feels more threatened, its voice can turn into a howling bark. This type of bark is usually heard when a stranger is approaching its territory, as when a postman delivers a package.

Alarm Bark The alarm bark is the dogs way of communicating to us that it wants attention. Dogs may bark a couple of times to alert us to an event, or they may bark at the same pitch until action is taken. The dog makes this bark when it hears an unusual noise like a doorbell or car alarm.

Howls Howling is a form of long-range communication. In the wild, dogs howl to locate other pack members. A domesticated dog can howl when separated from its owner.

Whine This high-pitched vocalisation is often produced through the nose when the dog’s mouth is closed. The whine often means the dog wants something like food, a walk, or to go outside.

There can be many reasons for a dog to bark excessively. The most common reasons we see is from fear of noises, being away from their owners, compulsive behaviour, seeking attention from you or other pets, if they are in pain, to let others know about territory boundaries, some cognitive dysfunction disorders and genetics.

Certain breeds can be prone to excessive barking. Most commonly Beagles, Yorkies, Chihuahuas, German Shepherds, Pomeranians and Northern breeds like Huskies, and Alaskan Malamutes.

To help manage excessive barking try the following tips:

By ignoring excessive barking we may inadvertently be reinforcing it. By interrupting the behaviour we can correct it.

Appropriate exercise for the breed and life stage of the pet

Appropriate mental stimulation with toys

Avoid stimuli that is known to cause fear or anxiety

Remove the dog from the triggers such as leaving them outdoors when you are away

Addressing any pain or discomfort through regular vet checks

Training them to ‘sit’, ‘come’, and ‘stay’

Positive reinforcement for good behaviour

Anti-barking collars and systems are not recommended as they are a form of punishment

By Kiyoko Robertson, AAS, RVT