Why Does My Dog Bark At Everything? 6 Common Reasons & How To Fix It
Barking dog driving you (and the neighbours!) crazy? Find out why your dog won’t stop barking and how to put a stop to it.
Copy: Katy & Shell
Photography: Dogfolk Pet Photography
Katy and Shell are two style-savvy dog mums celebrating the best in pet-friendly living. A professional pet photographer and dog lifestyle writer, together they share dog-friendly inspiration, pet product reviews, dog treat recipes, expert pet advice and on-trend dog brands with discerning pet parents around the world.
Just like it’s natural for humans to speak, it’s natural for dogs to bark! But if your dog is going – literally! – barking mad, this may signal something is bothering your pup more than usual.
It goes without saying, but a dog that barks at everything can be a real nuisance. There may be times when you can ignore it or put up with it, but other times (such as when you’re trying to sleep or have guests over) when excessive dog barking can interfere with your daily life.
It can also be a real pain for your neighbours. After all, who wants to hear a dog yapping away all day and night?!
No matter how cute and otherwise well-behaved your dog is, barking is a behavioural issue that can get worse without proper intervention and training. But first, it’s important to understand why dogs keep barking, and how to determine when it’s a problem.
If you’ve been pulling your hair out asking, ‘why does my dog bark so much?!’ read on to learn the common reasons why, along with proven and easy ways to stop your dog from barking at everything.
After reading the below tips, you could even say you’ll become a bark-eting expert!
Need more dog training tips?
Why does my dog bark at everything? Here’s 6 reasons why dogs bark
Barking is one of the main ways dogs communicate, so you shouldn’t expect a dog to not bark at all. This is as unreasonable as expecting a baby to never cry!
However, some dogs bark excessively. It may be whenever someone walks past the house, whenever your dog hears movement in the neighbouring yard, or any time your dog is around other dogs or people.
If you have a problem with your dog barking, then the first step is to understand the common reasons behind excessive barking.
Dogs will most often bark due to the following:
- Territorial: Dogs will bark to protect you or their territory. For example, when strangers or other dogs enter your property or come within close proximity to your home.
- Fear: If your dog is startled or becomes fearful, they might bark as a way to alert you and scare off the potential threat. You can tell if your dog is afraid when their ears are pinned back and their tail is tucked between their legs.
- Boredom or loneliness: Dogs are pack animals. They are conditioned to want to be around other dogs – or at least other humans! So if your dog is left alone for long periods, then they may bark to signal loneliness or boredom.
- Play: Does your dog bark every time they socialise with other dogs? This is quite normal, as barking is used to greet and encourage playtime. An easy way to tell if the bark is a ‘happy’ bark, is when your pup’s barking is accompanied by a wagging tail and jumping.
- Attention seeking: You may notice that your dog barks to signal something to you. It may be to go outside, to play, to go for a walk, or when it wants a tasty dog treat!
- Separation anxiety: This is one of the more common reasons behind excessive barking in dogs. Dogs with separation anxiety will often bark continuously when they are home alone. This will generally be accompanied by destructive behaviours such as chewing and digging, as well as repetitive movements such as running around in circles or along the fence.
It’s also worth noting that some dog breeds, such as beagles, dachshunds and Australian shepherds, are more prone to excessive barking than others. And just like people, every dog has its own unique personality. They may just simply like to bark!
How to stop your dog from barking
Knowing how to stop your dog barking excessively starts with identifying the root cause. After reading the above reasons why dogs bark, you’ll be more able to identify what’s triggering the behaviour.
Once you know why your dog is barking, then it’s time to focus on retraining their behaviour or making changes to their environment, depending on the root cause of the barking.
Retraining your dog is a great way to encourage them to stop barking, though this requires some time and patience. But your efforts will be well-rewarded with a more peaceful and quiet pet-friendly home!
Here are some effective and proven ways to overcome excessive dog barking:
Desensitize your dog to the triggering event
Much like exposure therapy for humans, this involves slowly exposing your dog to their triggering event. When they start to bark, give a clear and firm command such as “no!”. You can also use distraction techniques, such as commanding “sit!” and diverting their gaze to treats or toys to keep their attention away from their trigger.
Every time your dog doesn’t bark, reward them with a treat. Every time they do bark, ignore it and try again. This approach takes persistence and practice, but if you are consistent you will see results.
Ignore attention-seeking barking
If you think your dog is barking simply to get your attention, then simply ignore it. Again, this isn’t easy either – but keep at it! Whenever your pup is quiet, reward them with a treat, or praise and pat.
Dogs love attention, so if they realise that barking isn’t giving them their desired outcome, they’ll slowly learn to stop that behaviour.
Although excessive dog barking can be annoying, remember to stay calm! If you don’t, your dog will sense this and only mirror your frustration with further barking.
Using rewards-based, positive reinforcement with praises and treats (check out these healthy homemade dog treat recipes) you can retrain your dog’s brain to not associate triggers (such as other people or dogs) with the need to bark.
Exercise your dog
If your dog’s barking is due to environmental stressors such as being left alone or boredom, then ensure your dog is getting proper exercise daily. This could be a walk around the block or to the local park, or at the very least, running around the backyard playing fetch. Aim for 30 minutes of continuous exercise depending on the size, breed and energy levels of your dog.
If you spend your day at work, then try to fit in your walk either before work or when you come home. This will help your best friend to burn off excess energy and keep them stimulated. It will also give them something to look forward to!
Allow your dog to socialise
If you suspect your dog is lonely or suffering separation anxiety, then explore options such as a dog sitter, doggy daycare, or consider getting a second dog!
If the above options aren’t suitable for your situation, then you should focus on keeping your dog as stimulated as possible while you’re gone. This can include leaving boredom busters for them to play with, such as a Kong filled with treats, or even this simple homemade apple Kong! You can also provide them with high quality chew toys to keep them occupied during the day.
Keep your dog’s barking under control
Dogs can have excessive barking episodes for a number of reasons. For the most part, it’s not a sign of anything too serious. However, the problem can certainly cause upset for you and your neighbours, which may lead to an awkward noise complaint.
Persistent training and maintaining a calm, assertive tone with your dog is so important for tackling most of the issues listed above. With positive reinforcement training and positive environmental changes, your dog will learn to settle and bark less.
In cases of extreme separation anxiety, or if the barking doesn’t improve using the above tips, then it’s a good idea to visit your local vet for further advice. They may recommend anti-anxiety medication for your dog (if anxiety is determined to be the main cause of barking) or direct you to other training techniques or tools that can help, such as an animal behaviourist.
Best of luck – and remember, patience and persistence pays off!
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Pretty Fluffy is the ultimate lifestyle destination for dog lovers.
Thank you for being part of our dog-loving community!
Copy: Katy & Shell
Photography: Dogfolk Pet Photography