Just about every dog owner has heard the phrase, “If you can’t control your dog, you shouldn’t have a dog,” and whether you’re a pro or just a puppy parent, many dog owners have struggled with their dog’s barking. While it’s important to teach your dog to obey basic commands, it’s also vital to teach your dog how to behave in the world.
What everyone needs to realize is that if your dog barks there is a reason. There is always a reason. It’s possible that they heard something you cannot, but outside of a few cases like this we’ve outlined a number of different reasons why your dog could be barking. The good news is that once you’ve identified the reason why they bark you can work with them to stop using it as a trigger to bark. Unfortunately this is often easier said than done.
Common Reasons why Dogs Bark
Dogs are social animals who thrive on human companionship. Sometimes they may bark just to let you know that they need your attention. If your dog doesn’t get the regular attention they need, and they find the only way to get your attention is to bark, this bad behavior will only increase. If they find barking is effective at getting your attention, it will be hard to break this trigger. You may not realize but every time you give your dog attention when they bark, it’s unintentionally reinforcing this behavior.
This type of barking is called ‘demand barking’ and is different from other types of barking. It should be discouraged because it gives your dog more opportunities to bark without a valid reason.
Another obvious reason for your dog to bark is that they are greeting your guests or other animals. They may not only bark, but be jumping and tail-wagging. It’s easy to identify this type of barking because your dog will be relaxed when they are barking to greet the visitor or a family member when they come back home.
Your dog may bark when they see other animals or dogs passing by or when they hear them barking. We all know dogs communicate with each other by barking, so it is natural for them to bark when they hear one of their own kind. Sometimes you may not hear the other dogs barking which may make you think that your dog is unnecessarily being loud. This type of social barking will generally last only a few minutes.
For many dogs territorial behavior is an inherent part of their temperament. Having dogs as pets means they assume your home is their territory. When an unknown person or animal passes by, your dog might bark loudly to warn the family members or scare the strangers away. You may have seen street dogs bark at your dog for the exact same reason. It’s because the street dogs feel an unknown dog has entered their territory.
This type of barking can be more in breeds characterized as guard dogs like German Shepherds, Boxers and Bernese Mountain Dogs. They are loyal and alert dogs that tend to become protective of their family members, which can make them bark if they sense danger.
Need to go Outside
Dogs know that they go to the bathroom outside, and they’ll usually go to the door to be let out when they need to go. If you don’t see them, or they can’t wait they may come to you and bark to get your attention. In this case they’re not barking at anything, just to get your attention to let them outside to go potty.
The only way to stop this is to train them to push a doggy doorbell that gives you an audible queue that they want to go out or come inside. Training them to use the button can take a bit of work, but it’s worth it if you want one less reason for them to bark.