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Reasons dogs bark and how to prevent barking

Sometimes a dog’s bark can be a happy sign that they are pleased to see you or another animal, but quite often their barking could have negative connotations.

Types of barking

Repeated barking with little or no pauses – This is a sign that your dog is distressed or is trying to alert you to something.

Prolonged barks with pauses - Dogs frustrated by social isolation or confinement may bark using a long string of solitary, prolonged barks, pausing between each one.

Low pitched barking or growling – This is usually linked to threats or anger. In relation to humans and other animals, this tends to be an obvious message to stay away or to stop doing something.

One or two sharp barks – This is usually an alert to the owner that there is as perceived threat nearby.

Howling – Not all dogs howl, but those that erupt into a distinct howling pattern may be trying to signal other dogs who may have entered their territory.

A high-pitched series of barks – An invitation to play.

Unhappy barking

A dog might bark because they are bored, lonely, fearful, protective or seeking attention from their owner. It’s this type of barking that we want to prevent as it means our pet is unhappy, plus the barking could be a disturbance to other pets or neighbours.

How to know if your dog barks

You might think your dog doesn’t bark very often, but if they are barking through loneliness then this is most likely to happen when you’re not with them. To find out how much your dog is barking and when, you could give your dog an Animo. Animo is a collar-mounted activity and behaviour monitor which records when and how often your dog barks, giving you the opportunity to investigate the cause and find a solution.

Preventing barking

Many dogs hate to be left home alone and will bark due to loneliness or lack of enrichment. While you could consider a doggie companion for your pet, not all dogs will want to live with another dog. For lone dogs that are left home alone all day, make sure they have plenty of toys to play with and rotate their toys, so they have something different to play with each day to keep them interested. Ask a family member, friend or pet sitter to look in on your dog during the day or take them for a walk.

Protective dogs might bark if they see other animals or people through the fence or window. If this is the case, repair any holes in your fence and keep the curtains closed in rooms that look out onto public roads.

Some dogs will ask to be let outside by barking if they need to go out to use the toilet. If you have a small or medium sized dog, then you could install a pet door for them so that they can let themselves out. Make sure your garden is secure with a high, sturdy fence so that your dog can’t escape.

Fearful barking could be down to loud noises such as fireworks or building works. If there is a lot of noise going on outside that is making your dog bark, close the windows and put the television or radio on to drown out the noise. Distracting your dog through play can also help. If you are planning to do building work within your own home, consider getting a friend to look after your dog in their house while the work takes place.

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