Does your dog bark excessively? All dogs bark, but excessive barking is a major problem that pet owners, local councils and society face every day. So what’s all the noise about? Why do some of our canine friends insist on making such a racket?
Dogs bark for many reasons. Some are fun, like during play, excitement, to grab your attention or to say hello. Others are not so fun, such as fear, alarm barking, stress, loneliness, separation anxiety, guarding or illness. And whilst all of these are normal dog behaviours, and it is unrealistic to expect dogs to never make a sound, excessive barking often points to serious behavioural, physical or environmental concerns.
So what can we do about it? In many cases, resolving excessive barking requires professional help from a qualified veterinarian and/or behaviourist, but there are many steps you can take at home to help encourage your noisy friend to tone it down slightly.
- Is your dog bored/lonely? Providing daily enrichment for dogs is so important for their mental wellbeing. Provide your dog with food enrichment toys (e.g. Kongs), regular dog toys, environmental enrichment (things to sniff/dig in), physical exercise and social interaction daily. Your dog is inquisitive and intelligent! Encouraging him to use his brain every day can help reduce stress and undesirable behaviours.
- Is your dog stressed/anxious/fearful? It is normal to experience stress, anxiety and fear, but if your canine friend isn’t coping with someone or something, often undesirable behaviours (such as barking) raise their noisy head. If it’s obvious what stresses/frightens your dog, if it’s possible, an easy resolution is sometimes to just simply remove it from your dog’s life, or remove your dog entirely from the situation (e.g. if your dog doesn’t get along with other dogs, there’s no need to take her to a dog park. Or if your dog is frightened when she sees your neighbours in their yard, place something in front of the fence so she can’t see them anymore.) If it’s not possible to do this, or there are several reasons your dog barks, or if your dog displays aggressive behaviour then it is best to chat to your veterinarian or qualified behaviourist. They can help you to manage the situation and help you to develop a training program to suit you and your dog.
- Is your dog unwell? Has your dog had a check up lately? Don’t forget that behavioural problems can be the result of an underling illness that may or may not have other symptoms present. See your vet if you are concerned!
- Chat to our friendly vets and nurses about calming products you can purchase to help your dog to feel a little more relaxed each day. (Many of these are effective, easy to use, over the counter products!)
What not to do…. Excessive barking can be very stressful for everyone involved, but it’s important to remember that as the root cause often stems from some sort of stress/fear/anxiety, punishing the dog (yelling, smacking etc.) will only intensify how uncomfortable the dog feels, exacerbating the issue. Barking collars are also another big no-no. Dogs don’t understand why they’re being shocked, and often associate the discomfort with the issue itself, which again, only makes things worse for everyone involved.
The good news is that there is help available! Excessive barking can be complicated, so if you’re concerned about your noisy friend, call us on 3208 9233 to make an appointment!