Dog Training and Dog Care advice from UK Professionals

Why Do Dogs Bark?

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Why Does My Dog Bark? Dogs bark for many reasons. Barking is a natural form of communication amongst all canines.

Some of the guarding dog breeds have been selectively bred to bark in response to danger or a perceived threat to owner or property. These are what we commonly refer to as 'alert' dogs, as the bark does not necessarily mean a protective element in the dog, more a desire to alert the rest of the pack to the potential threat.

Our companion dogs are intelligent creatures that, as such, need plenty of mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.

Many dogs bark out of frustration and boredom. In such cases, all that is needed is to channel the unwanted behaviour into positive training activities, new commands, games, tricks etcetera.

Joining one of the many canine sports clubs or simply interacting more with the dog will stop unwanted barking in many cases, purely through it causing the unspent energy to be expelled in directions which you are happy with, and above all, which the dog enjoys greatly.

Dogs also bark a as form of attention-seeking. They are in effect demanding a response from their owners. Giving the dog attention just reinforces the barking behaviour. Ignore the dog and the barking will often stop. Bear in mind that 'giving the dog attention' INCLUDES shouting, telling them 'off', or showing any other kind of attention. The only exception to this is a direct NO command, and i say command but this word must have been TRAINED and must be clearly understood by the DOG as meaning 'do not do that please'.

90% of dogs i have met do NOT know this command, and so the use of such words (No, Stop It, Lay Down and Be Quiet etc) is simply unfair and in some cases abusive due to the stress it places the dog under. A dog can only obey something it understands CLEARLY, and just because your dog may cower or adjust its behaviour when you say such things does NOT mean that your dog understands this, it simply means the dog understands your TONE that something is being asked for or expected of the dog. In the worst cases the dog just fears you for sounding angry or frustrated. This is not a solution, it is a surefire way to make the problem worse, and will definitely make your dog's life less enjoyable and much more stressed.

Anxious or stressed dogs bark when left alone. Separation anxiety is a common problem. Reassurance training is needed to increase the dog’s confidence in such cases, whereby the dog is taught that it needs not bark and needs not fear those things it is barking at.

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Dogs fear certain objects for no immediately apparent reason and will bark repeatedly at the object from a distance, often making short dashes towards the object then retreating. A dog can suddenly take exception to the hoover, television, lawn mower or even curtains flapping in the breeze. The dog will bark until the stimulus, or the dog, is removed. This behaviour is natural as the dog is clearly commenting on the novelty or strangeness of something it has not come across, this is part of the reason why early socialisation is so important, not just meeting dogs and people, but meeting every kind of object you can ever imagine your dog coming into contact with, from vaccuum cleaners to cats, from umbrellas to motorbikes.

Barking can be a trait of a particular breed. It can become a serious problem, upsetting neighbours and causing disputes. Constant barking, whining or howling can be avoided with consistent reward-based dog training.

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