A dog’s bark is its voice and it is their way of communicating with their human or with other dogs. There are many reasons why dogs bark and it is important to understand this to help solve barking if it becomes a problem.
The following is a list of the most common reasons why dogs bark.
This is usually when someone is either walking past the home or entering your yard. The dog barks as a warning to you the owner that someone is entering your territory or that someone is passing by, and they are signaling to the person “I’m here protecting my home”. The sound of this bark is usually loud, sharp and authoritative.
Demand for Attention
This is where your dog is probably looking at you, following you around and barking, usually because they want your attention, they want to play or that it is food time as they do have a great body clock if you have a structured routine for your dog.
Dogs that are anxious either of being left alone, a sudden noise, visitors entering the home that they are not familiar with, a person approaching, has phobias, common ones being the sound of thunder or fireworks, will often bark when they are distressed. The body language of the dog may be that it has its tail tucked, the hackles may be up on the shoulders, a low head, ears back a raised foot. All of these postures are signs that your dog is afraid of something or someone.
Dogs left alone all day that have not been properly exercised before you leave for work can bark out of boredom and frustration. Ways to help prevent this can be, exercising them before you leave for the day, plus, having a dog walker, a friend or family member come over in the middle of the day to walk your dog or play with them in the garden, or a few days a week take your dog to a reputable doggie daycare so that they have the opportunity to socialize with other dogs. Another option is to leave a puzzle toy for them to do or a stuffed frozen Kong as enrichment for mental stimulation while they are on their own.
This is the barking that you will hear when either you are returning home, you are playing with your dog, or they are playing with other dogs. Your dog is simply expressing that they are having fun and enjoying themselves in the same way that young children may squeal, scream, or shout when they are playing with friends.
This is where the dog races to the window and barks at a passerby or a passerby with a dog, the mail carrier who dares to enter the yard, the delivery person, again, who dares to enter the yard. Here the bark can be sharp and incessant, and the body language of the dog will be tense with ears and shoulders pointing forward, tail up and wagging stiffly and the bark may be interspersed with low growls.
As a bark is a dog’s way of communicating, they can bark because they are in pain. This could be that accidentally someone steps on their paw, when playing with another dog the dog hurts them, they are being attacked by another dog or animal. In this case the bark will be higher in pitch and depending on the situation may mean that your dog needs to see the vet.
As dogs age, sometimes, they can begin to bark more. This can be for a variety of reasons some being, a deterioration in hearing or seeing, that they feel scared or anxious, or that they are in pain. Just like humans sometimes as dogs age they can develop problems with their hips (hip dysplasia). Note that this can happen to younger dogs too especially those that are very active or participate in dog sports. Or older dogs can develop arthritis in certain joints, some breeds can be quite susceptible to this. Therefore, a six-monthly checkup with the vet is very important for senior dogs to keep them as healthy, comfortable, and hopefully pain free for a long time to come.
As a trainer one of the many reasons I get asked for help is because of dogs barking a lot in the home. My main task is to ascertain what is causing the behavior and then teach my clients ways to work on this. But I always remind people that a dog’s bark is their way of communicating to us in the same way we communicate with our fellow human beings. So, it is always important to ascertain why they are doing the behavior and by working through things with patience and consistency they can be taught an alternative behavior.
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