Why Do Some Dogs Bark at Every Noise?

Imagine if someone objects to the way you speak or how much you speak. Of course, the Constitution still protects you, but what of our little doggos? Barking is one of their only ways to communicate with the world. One of the many reasons for dogs to hail as the most loved pet is their expressiveness, but the limited mediums of expression fail them. Like a toddler cries to showcase anger, sorrow, hunger and whatnot, similarly dogs only know to bark to showcase anger, sadness, love and a lot more things. So, if you plan to look for a measure to eliminate barking from their system, you are essentially trying to mute them, which can not be a preferable choice for a dog lover. Thus, only if barking has increased to a level that it has become a nuisance should you look for ways to decrease it.

Ever wondered why do stray dogs bark all the time? The mystery lies in the single most effective thing for changed behaviours in dogs, i.e., training! Again drawing the same analogy of a toddler, it is said that a child is a total of what their parents have taught him over the due course of time. Similarly, if today you are contemplating that my dogs bark too much, it has to be your doings that must have encouraged them since they were in the puppy stage.

Generally, pet parents tend to laugh at or encourage their puppies to bark at everything and everyone. Still, they don't realise that a puppy associates this behaviour with positive reinforcements, making it a part of their long term habit. Therefore, as a pet parent, you need to be mindful of what you are feeding your puppies mentally and physically.

Bark serves many purposes for a dog; it is not merely a habit or part of their aggressive behaviour. Since they are short of mediums to express, it becomes the duty of the hoomans to decode their barks.

Next time your dog barks, observe and ask yourself these questions:
  1. What things compel your dog to bark?
  2. When and where does barking occur?

Answering these questions could be easy if you follow the physical communicators in a pet, like their body postures, behaviour, the intensity of the bark, duration and tempo of the bark etc.

Therefore the proper knowledge of the possible reasons for their barking should be a pet parent's priority.

TERRITORIAL/PROTECTIVE

Going back to the same mystery we began with, the primary reason for street dogs to bark so much is the sense of territoriality in them. They usually mark their territory by urinating on that particular area that comes under it; if any other dog tries to breach that area marking, they tend to bark.

On the same grounds, adopted dogs tend to show this protectiveness for their belongings, their pet parents, and even their sense of habits. Anything they have grown to associate with becomes a part of their possessions, physically or mentally. So from the car they have been driven in, all their life, the routine they take while walking, any deviation in them can become a trigger for barking.

ALARM/FEAR

Some dogs are taught to bark from the beginning; this could be part of deliberate training or arbitrary learning. For the deliberate part, dogs trained in the armed forces are the best example, for they are trained to bark and be vigilantes at every odd thing happening. Even people adopting "Watch Dogs" contribute to the same category.

For the arbitrary learners, it is the appreciation from the pet parent at the puppy stage that they form a habit out of it. Some dogs are imbedded with these watchful characteristics, such as Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Bulldog etc.

This kind of bark is very easy to mark by the pet parent, for the dog's body becomes stiffer, their tails are tucked, ears tend to be backed, and the dog moves forward with each bark.

Generally, dogs are positively encouraged to bark in fishy situations, such as any burglary or theft.

BOREDOM/LONELINESS

Dogs are social beings; this very reason makes them the medicine of so many depression-stricken people worldwide. But human beings are too busy with their lives; they tend to forget their 'medicine' in the fast-paced lives. Thus, our ever so lively pooches doom in the realms of boredom and loneliness.

Countries like the US have the proper legal infrastructure for pets; anyone can complain against people who leave their pets all alone there.

SEPARATION ANXIETY/COMPULSIVE BARKING

This ki is an extension of loneliness and boredom; only when they are excessively alone do they feel the pangs of separation. Severe separation anxiety leads to a lot of things in combination with just barking. If you find the dog pacing to and fro, there is aggressiveness in their barks; they show all the signs of depression, then it is time for you to take the matters seriously.

It is a clear sign that the problem has elevated to the mental realm.

Similarly, with compulsive barkers, the psychological issues extend to a level where they bark to hear their voice. This kind of bark is continuous, repetitive, and of the same pitch, while the dog is continuously fidgeting.

If this has not been apparent to you, then it is a serious sign for you to visit a Vet, on an urgent basis.

GREETING/PLAY

Dogs are essentially incapable of being angry for too long or being angry at all. Some dogs tend to be so excited to meet someone, or see something, that they express their happiness through happy barking.

Identifying such a bark is extremely easy, for it has to combine with tail wags, jumping etc.

ATTENTION SEEKING

Dogs are notorious for this characteristic of theirs. From asking you to take you out to play to asking you not to stop petting, to even asking for a treat, they tend to bark their ways out. Although you would easily realise that they are casually barking for things, what becomes tricky and important is how you deal with it as a pet parent.

As it makes their desired thing, these habits easily crystallise, say a treat, just a bark away. It would be a nuisance for you to have a dog barking at everything and anything, so instilling good habits in them becomes imperative.

SOCIAL FACILITATED BARKING

Drawing from our earlier research on music and dogs, we discovered a dog's sense of affinity with music. If we trace the genealogy of dogs, music and dogs go long back, then we know. For example, wild wolves used the means of sounds to call for their fellow species members. Similarly, dogs tend to use socially facilitated barking to socialise with other dogs.

It is their form of the intercom system; if one dog barks a high pitched bark, all the dogs along with him contribute to this bark; sometimes, even your pup would do so. It instilled a sense of community, despite their varied breeding.

FRUSTRATION INDUCED BARKING

Although it is quite obvious that they are bound to react if you irritate a dog, barking is the most instinctive reaction for them. It also suggests that some people only irritate to make them bark, which is okay when you are at your home but appears a nuisance when you are out, and they start barking.

They could also bark when they are inherently a bit irritated by nature, for some dogs start barking when a playmate is inaccessible. So, it is important to make do with things according to your pet's nature.

WAYS TO STOP THIS

QUIET TRAINING

Nothing can guide a dog better than its pet parent. Pet parents have to be stern and clear with their body language and expression to make the dog crystal clear of what not to do.

If the dog is extremely compelled to bark at something, make sure your "quiet" command comes after they have barked for 2-3 seconds because you can not beat an instinct.

Initially, if the dog is too well versed with its barking habits, combine the command with the muzzle, too, then follow up with some startling sound.

REDIRECT THE ATTENTION

If your dog is already barking too much, make use of the treat to distract their attention. First, ensure that the treats are exclusive to the ones you normally get so that they can be enticed well. Then, gradually associate the treat with their trigger to stop barking.

Make use of treats wisely. Treats can be used to train them to stop barking, but make sure the offer remains for the first time only. Never treat your dog after the second time they bark, as this, too, will become a bad habit!

DESENSITISATION

It is always better to instil a good habit in the puppy stage, but it is difficult to get rid of a bad habit later. As in the later stage, any process would involve the step of unlearning first. If your dog has grown to associate with something negatively, it is first important to normalise that thing with the dog.

Prevention before interfering is the first plan of action. You should know the trigger well before desensitising. There are various measures for this process to work; you can get your pet a Kong toy from the online pet store so that the dog gets intrigued well.

As discussed in the previous blog, white noise is a very important technique to desensitise the dog.

WHAT WE DO NOT RECOMMEND

We would continue pressing this until everyone learns this. Punishment can be of no use if you expect permanent changes. On the contrary, punishment can make them bark more for fear and confusion. So discard the idea of harsh punishment as a measure for anything with dogs.

Secondly, never buy into the marketing gimmicks of anti-bark collars. Dogs are smart creatures, they become collar-wise in a jiffy, so it is of no use. Nor are muzzling effective for a long time, alone!

Thus training complimented with patience is a pet human's only choice. If things still do not seem to be in your control, contacting a Vet is the next best thing to do.