DOG BARKING: WHY THEY DO IT AND HOW TO PREVENT IT
A barking dog can quickly become a source of stress, especially if you live in the city and are worried about disturbing your neighbours. But our four-legged friends never bark for no reason. And in order to fix the problem, we must first understand it.
Why Does a Dog Bark?
Barking is the preferred method of communication for dogs. Some dog breeds bark a lot, others less so. Tricoloured breeds used for hunting are particularly known for their bark. They need to be heard from afar and therefore know just how to get your attention. But, in all cases, there are other factors to consider.
👉 Because They’re Bored
One of the primary causes of dog barking is boredom. If you're away too long or too often, and your dog is walking in circles around your apartment or garden, there's a good chance they'll react by barking loudly.
👉 To Guard Their Territory
Some dogs have very strong protective or guarding instincts. In this case, they start barking as soon as any "intruder" approaches. While this behaviour is welcome if your dog is a watchdog, it quickly becomes problematic if your dog barks every time a neighbour comes out of their house or someone walks past your garden.
👉 Because They’re Excited
Sometimes dogs have a hard time containing their excitement. This can manifest itself as a type of frenzy or loud barking, for example, in instances when you take out their lead ready to go for a walk or offer to play with them.
👉 Because They’re Scared
A dog that barks all the time may be scared and anxious and this is the only way for them to express their fear. If your dog barks at walkers, other dogs, or even cars, they are likely suffering from a lack of socialisation.
👉 Because They’ve Been Conditioned To
Dogs are intelligent animals that quite quickly associate two actions with one another. If you offer attention as soon as your dog barks a little, they will soon come to understand that this is how to get something from you.
👉 Because They’re in Pain
A dog may also bark to express pain or discomfort. In this case, it may also manifest as unintentional barking or whining, which is quite easy to recognise because it sounds unlike any other type of dog bark.
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What Should I Do If My Dog is Barking?
Once the source of the problem has been determined, another question arises: how to quiet a dog who barks too much?
👉 If Your Dog is Bored
One of the first solutions for a dog who barks because they're bored is to give them something to occupy themselves with, especially when you're away. Buy them some activities and brain games that they can play with on their own. Also, make sure you make time to take your dog out for a walk before you leave and play with them to tire them out a bit.
👉 If Your Dog is Guarding Their Territory
If your dog serves as a watchdog, old habits, unfortunately, die hard. However, there are several strategies you can try to prevent this behaviour when it's unwanted. First of all, don't let your dog position themselves in strategic places that give them a good view of arriving "intruders''. For example, prevent them from getting too close to the window or gate. Install a screen or fence in the garden to stop your dog from seeing passers-by. If your dog starts barking while you're at home, immediately command them to stop with a firm “Stop”. Then, praise them when they do as they're told.
👉 If Your Dog is Scared
If your dog barks in the car, the street, or at every stranger who walks by, you need to consider restarting their socialisation right from the beginning. For example, take them to a specialised training school to allow your four-legged friend to meet other dogs, or contract the services of a canine behavioural specialist. Helping your dog overcome their fears will take time, but it's a necessary step for you to live in peace.
👉 If Your Dog has been Conditioned to Bark
You're going to have to retrain your pooch, which is no small task. But it's necessary for erasing these bad habits. First, ignore your dog when they're being impatient. Then, reinforce positive behaviour with the help of rewards (praise, treats, games).
👉 If Your Dog is in Pain
In this case, the only solution is to find the source of your dog's suffering and treat it. There are no special strategies here to get them to stop barking: only treatment can help. If you notice that your dog continues to bark, despite all your attempts to find the cause of the pain, consult your veterinarian to make sure that your dog isn’t concealing a more serious pathology.
If annoying behaviour persists, seek advice from a canine behavioural specialist. Avoid dog barking collars: they don’t tackle the problem at the source and are rarely effective, in addition to being cruel.
The Law on Dog Barking
What are the regulations on dog barking? In the UK, this type of problem is cited in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. By law, a barking dog can be considered a "statutory noise nuisance". If your dog repeatedly and regularly interferes with the peacefulness of your neighbourhood, you could face a lawsuit. Your neighbours, in particular, can file a complaint against you, because a dog barking in an apartment, night and day, can quickly become very exhausting.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, dog owners can be taken to court if they do nothing to stop the "noise nuisance". This could lead to a fine of up to £5,000. The good relations between you and your neighbours could also be affected by this, which will eventually pose a problem for you. It is therefore very important to resolve this situation as soon as possible before it escalates, for the well-being of both you and your neighbours.
PUBLISHED 18.12.2020 - HECTOR KITCHEN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
By the Hector Kitchen medical and scientific team
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