All dogs bark. While this is normal behavior, it can be frustrating or overwhelming when a dog decides to bark excessively. Sometimes it seems like a dog barks for no reason at all. However, this isn’t accurate, because dogs don’t bark for no reason; the reason for dog barking just isn’t apparent to you at the time. Below you can learn a few of the most common reasons for your dog’s barking and what you can do about it.
Why Dogs Bark
A dog bark is a way of communicating. Often, the tone of the bark and body language can be used to determine what your canine is trying to communicate. But not everyone is an expert on dog barking or body language, and it can be challenging to figure these communication methods out. For example, when it seems your dog is barking at nothing, it could be that they’re greeting people or other animals. However, if that isn’t it, it’s likely one of the reasons explained in detail below.
Sometimes a dog barks to get your attention. They could be asking to play or go for a walk or for you to make eye contact. Attention-seeking barking is most common when you’ve been busy or gone all day at work. However, some dogs want more attention than others, and they may give a happy bark whenever they want to spend time with you.
Fear or Anxiety
When dogs bark excessively for no apparent reason, it may be due to fear or anxiety. Many dogs have separation anxiety when left alone. If you notice your dog barks when in a room alone or before you leave the house, consider talking to your vet about potential separation anxiety.
Dogs also have fears, just like their owners. They may be afraid of loud noises, other dogs, people, thunderstorms or almost anything else. A tired dog is also more likely to be frightened of things like loud noises because they’re more prone to startling.
Establish or Maintain Territory and Resources
An otherwise quiet dog may bark when it feels its territory or resources are at risk. Dogs were traditionally pack animals that had to establish dominance inside their group and fight over scarce resources. Territorial barking is usually the cause when a dog barks incessantly because someone or something gets near their yard, food, water or toys.
Mental or Physical Health Problems
Compulsive barking can be linked to a physical health problem that causes pain or a mental health issue affecting memory. If your dog is barking randomly or uses sharp yelps, you should take it to the vet. Your vet can help you rule out any mental or physical health problems that might be causing your dog’s barking problem.
As an Alarm or Warning
Alarm barking is more common in certain dogs bred as guard dogs. However, any dog can bark to sound an alarm or warning. They do this to alert you that there may be danger — even when it’s evident to you that there isn’t any threat. For example, a dog inside may hear other animals or people outside. Even distant noises you can’t hear could start a dog barking because a dog’s senses are much more sensitive than yours.
Solving the Problem of Excessive Barking
The first step to solving the problem of unexplained barking is figuring out the root cause. You may determine the root of barking problems by paying attention to when and how barking happens. However, you can enlist the help of a certified applied animal behaviorist or veterinarian to assist you if you can’t determine the reason on your own.
Once you’ve figured out why your dog seems to bark at absolutely nothing, solving the issue will vary. For example, if a mental or physical health problem is to blame, the vet may recommend medications, surgery or other treatment options. Dogs with severe fears or anxiety can also be placed on medication that may help make them feel more comfortable and stop barking.
Other methods to stop barking at seemingly nothing might include:
- Professional training: Dogs that bark for seemingly no reason will usually benefit from obedience and behavioral training programs.
- Ignore barking: By giving your dog attention when it barks, you’re rewarding an unwanted behavior. Instead, reward it only when it stops barking.
- Provide adequate resources: If you have more than one dog, make sure each has its own food and water bowls, as well as a private space it can go to if feeling overwhelmed.
- Get your dog company: If you’re away from the house for work most of the day, consider getting a second dog so they can keep each other company. Many dog breeds also do well with a cat as a companion.
- Avoid a silent house: If your home is quiet during the day while you’re away, your dog may pick up on outside noises and become anxious, afraid or territorial. Instead, try a white noise machine or leave a radio or television playing while away.
- Increase daily exercise: If your dog isn’t getting enough physical stimulation, it may be more prone to excessive barking. Consider hiring someone to walk your dog if you’re away during the day and increase playtime when you’re home.
One method to avoid is shock collars, also known as bark collars. These collars shock your dog each time they bark, and while they may stop barking, they can be harmful to your dog’s physical and mental well-being.
The Dog Wizard Is Here to Help
Dog owners can feel frustrated or overwhelmed by a dog barking at nothing. However, there’s always a reason behind barking behavior, and fixing the problem means finding the root cause. If you need help with excessive barking or other behavioral issues, The Dog Wizard is here to help.