Of all the behaviours exhibited by dogs, barking probably causes more neighbourhood disputes than any other. Barking is a normal canine behaviour, although oddly enough it is one humans have created. Wild dogs like wolves and dingoes rarely, if ever, bark. Barking is a juvenile behaviour in wild dogs. By selecting for puppy-like dogs we have created a problem for ourselves.
Barking has its uses. Dogs use it to warn us of approaching strangers and to get our attention. It is when barking becomes incessant or excessive that it becomes a problem.
Dogs bark for a variety of reasons: they may be excited, anxious, worried, protective or bored.
Unfortunately there is no clear distinction between appropriate and excessive barking. Some people feel than any barking is unacceptable, which is unrealistic. In general, if you feel your own dog is barking excessively it probably is, but if you feel your neighbour’s dog is barking excessively it probably isn’t!
Prevention is best achieved by socialising and training your dog. Socialisation helps dogs to behave well in strange situations so they don’t become over-excited or anxious. Obedience training helps you establish good communication and relationship with your dog so that if a problem occurs you can work it out without your dog feeling the need to bark about it.
If your dog is barking excessively you should not shout at it because this increases the dog’s tension and they think you are barking too. Don’t give a barking dog attention because this rewards it for barking. Reward and praise it when it is being quiet.
Stopping dogs from barking excessively is time consuming and not easy. Many councils have detailed assistance programs to help you minimise your dogs barking. It is also a good idea to have a talk to our staff or to an experienced dog trainer. Each situation is different and requires a detailed and specific approach to help prevent barking.