Why Dogs Bark

Why Dogs Bark
Have you ever wondered why dogs bark? Barking is a natural means of communication for dogs, however this behavior often creates conflict in human households. Let’s face it, most people find barking annoying. A dog that barks excessively gets on our nerves and makes us irritable. As a result, many of us punish our dogs for barking which can ultimately lead to more problems. But, if we can learn to understand why our dogs bark and what that barking means, we can minimize the negative effects of this behavior.  

Lowering A Dog Bark Intensity
When addressing issues of problematic barking, the goal should not be to eliminate barking altogether – which is impossible. Rather, we should work to understand the type of barking our dogs are engaging in and then find ways in which to lower the intensity and level of barking. PupLife co-founder Leslie Hayes has some great tips on dealing with Dogs That Bark.

Barking For Excitement
There are many different kinds of barking. Some dogs bark when they get excited, some bark when they become frightened or startled and some dogs bark out of frustration. The first step in creating a training plan is to identify your dog’s specific triggers. Keep a journal and note any activity that precedes an episode of excessive barking. After several days you should be able to spot trends. Then you can implement changes in your household that will ultimately have a positive effect on your dog.

Barking When Guests Arrive At The Door
Let’s take a look at one of the more common complaints: excessive barking when you have Guests At The Door.  

There are several different ways of dealing with this situation. The first is to use a management tool like a Dog Crate. Put your dog away (in another room) before guests arrive so that your dog does not have a chance to run to the door and bark. Preventing your dog from rehearsing unwanted behavior is a great way to help reduce and eliminate it.  

Sometimes, however, people arrive unexpectedly. When this happens, it helps to have a routine planned out that you can implement on a moment’s notice. Renown dog trainer, Turid Rugaas offers the following suggestions: 

1. When your dog runs barking to the door, calmly follow and position yourself between the door and your dog (with your back to the dog).
2. Wait until your dog calms down a little.
3. Grasp the doorknob and open the door a few inches at a time, stopping each time your dog starts barking again. Stand still until your dog is quiet.
4. Explain to the person on the other side of the door that you are training your dog and to be patient.
5. Let your guest in, having the person turn away from your dog.
6. Go into the next room and sit calmly. Don’t fuss and make a big deal. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your dog calms down when you and your guest remain calm.
For more information about barking check out Barking: The Sound of a Language. In this short, informative book, Turid Rugaas outlines six different types of barking, what each type means and what you can do to redirect your dog’s attention. If you’ve got a barker at home this book is definitely worth a read!