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Why dogs bark & what you can do to make them stop

Why dogs bark & what you can do to make them stop

‘How do I stop my dog barking?’ is one of the most common questions we receive from dog owners desperately trying to keep their dogs quiet!  Is your dog’s persistent BARKING driving you and your neighbours crazy? There’s nothing more annoying than a dog that barks non-stop when you are trying to sleep or enjoy a relaxing evening! Our Pet Team explains WHY DOGS BARK and WHAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE THEM STOP!

Why does my dog bark?

Whenever I’m asked how to stop a noisy dog from barking, my first response is “Barking is natural! It’s simply your dog’s way of expressing his emotions”.  – excitement, pleasure, fear, anxiety, stress or loneliness”. Don’t expect a dog not to bark, it would be the same as expecting a human not to talk! And in many cases, one of the reasons that humans keep dogs, is to protect us because of   their ability to warn us of impending danger by barking. Certain breeds may bark more than others. It’s also important to understand that your dog is not barking to deliberately irritate or spite you – there’s a REASON. Of course, when your dog barks relentlessly, you have a MAJOR problem and the only way to control this disruptive behaviour is to figure out what Fido is trying to tell you.

1. Alert barking

The very reason that we humans domesticated dogs, was for protection and to alert us to the presence of predators or intruders. The more domesticated they became, the more barking we bred into them, but now in modern times we live close together and have very fast paced, stressful lifestyles which make the sound of barking dogs disruptive and annoying.

As usual, as humans, we want the best of both worlds – a dog which will alert us by barking but stop when he has done his job. The problem is, how do we tell him that??

The first step is to tell him that you are pleased that he barked, but then to train him to come to you and be quiet once he has done his job. Use a special praise word, such as “well done” or “enough” and call him to you. The second he stops barking, reward him with pats and praise or a treat.

2. I’m bored or lonely

How can you tell if your dog is barking because he’s bored or lonely? Actually, it’s not difficult to identify the difference.  A bored or lonely dog will bark and bark for minutes or sometimes even hours in a monotone way.  Ask yourself a few questions, “How long is your dog left alone during the day?”, “Is he being walked enough?”, “Are you playing with him?”

Once you’ve made your check list to determine whether your dog is getting enough social and mental stimulation, you can now address the problem. Make sure that your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise. Take him for several long walks (some dogs need more walks than others), play fetch with a Frisbee or ball or keep him entertained with a few interactive toys.

3. I’m anxious

Dogs often bark because they are anxious or suffering from separation anxiety. My Silky has always been quite anxious and she has no problem letting me know with her shrill barking. Anxious barking is high- pitched and whining – the barking tends to sound more desperate!

If your dog barks all day while you are at work or when you go out at night, this may be a sign of separation anxiety. Your dog is upset and stressed because he is been separated from his human companion. Train your dog from puppyhood by leaving him alone for few minutes and then extending the time to longer and longer. By slowly increasing the time, you will eventually be able to leave him alone for at least eight hours.

Older dogs that have never being taught how to be alone at home may benefit from a treatment process called counterconditioning. During this treatment process, the idea is to change your pet’s anxious or fearful reaction to a calm, pleasant one instead. In other words, you are associating the presence or sight of a person, situation, place or object with something that your dog really enjoys or loves. Every time you leave the house, offer your dog a puzzle toy with food which will take him at least 30 minutes to finish. Unfortunately, this treatment only works for dogs with moderate anxiety andsevere anxiety may require the help of an animal behaviourist.

A natural solution which I swear by is our PetCalm - a, 100% homeopathic remedy which relieves anxiety and stress in highly strung or chronically anxious pets. 

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4. I’m excited! Or give me attention!

Puppies and young dogs will typically bark because they are excited or feeling playful. Have you noticed how a puppy or young dog barks excitedly when you play or walk with him? Their bark even sounds happy and upbeat.
Attention-seeking barkers are irritating because whatever you do to try and stop them will be interpreted as encouraging the barking.

As hard as it may be, ignore the BARKING! Don’t reward Fido by giving him food, a treat OR shouting at him to stop barking. Any form of attention only rewards him for being disruptive. Be strong my friends! Make no contact at all with your furry friend – don’t talk, touch or even look at him! For this method to be a success, you have to wait for him to stop barking – as long as it takes to start with – he will gradually realise when you only pay him attention when he is quiet that that is the behaviour you want.

HAVE A QUESTION related to your health?
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5. I’m scared

Dogs often bark because they are scared or fearful. There are many incidents which trigger this reaction such as barking at passers-by, visitors, other animals, thunderstorms, the sound of your security alarm been activated or an ambulance siren. The barking here would be sharp and loud. You can also tell from your dog’s posture if he’s barking out of fear because his ears are held back and his tail is low.

Fearful barkers respond quite well when you redirect their attention. Lure them away from  the scary situation with a quiet and calm voice and once you have his attention reward him for being quiet and calm. Here again, a few doses of our homeopathic remedy, PetCalm works like a charm during situations which cause fear and stress – thunderstorms, unexpected guests or loud noises.

If this is more than one-time occurrence, your dog may need the help of a trainer who will then use a process called desensitization - when anxiety is removed around a negative stimulus.

As you can tell, the solution to stopping a barking dog is to identify the bark and then the solution becomes easier to work out! In the same way that persistence, consistency and perseverance work when encouraging good behaviour in children, dogs can also be encouraged to replace annoying barking behaviour with barking only when it is appropriate – meaning a happier dog and more peace and quiet for the neighbourhood!

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Feelgood Health - March 6, 2017

Hi Christine

Thank you for your comment.

We can understand how frustrating this must be for you. We would recommend our PetCalm which will help to soothe and calm both your dogs. PetCalm also helps with separation anxiety and works quickly when given regularly.

In addition, we suggest that you leave toys with your dogs to keep them entertained and mentally stimulated. Taking your dog for a walk before you leave may also help to calm and relax her.

If the barking continues you may need to consult an animal behaviourist.

For more info, please go to:

Please let us know if there is anything else that we can assist with.

christine botha - February 28, 2017

I have a year old staffie bitch with this high pitched bark that drives me crazy. The older dog will bark when somebody walks past the gate or when dogs come past, which is very often. She also barks but after he’s stopped she will carry on barking at him. This is the same bark as when she has a toy and wants to play. For this reason i have to leave her alone in the back yard when I go out. He is then in the front garden. Obviously she is not happy being on her own at the back. I really don’t know how to solve the problem. I think I will be reported if I leave her with him where she will drive the neighbours crazy with her barking.

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