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All you need to know about barking

18/03/2021 - Training

Dogs primarily communicate through body language, so barking is the loudest auditory way they communicate - the one that gets most attention!
Despite it being a completely normal behaviour for dogs, we tend to find too much barking to be socially unacceptable. There’s certainly a balance to be struck so read on about ways you might be able to minimise barking or, at the very least, stop your dog from using barking alone to get attention.
So, read on for all you need to know about barking. The good, the bad and the ugly!
  1. Firstly, as you might expect, the key to understanding barking is to understand your dog. If they bark a lot, look for patterns as to when and why they might be doing it. Although it’s their way of communicating, no dog should be barking repeatedly.
  2. Try to recognise whether your dog has different barks: excitement, stress, frustration – these might all be communicated differently, and it is very useful to interpret them for a clue as to why your dog might be barking.
  3. Barking can become a habit. Your dog might initially bark to try to communicate but they can ‘learn’ to bark for no apparent reason, especially if doing so usually results in attention or a reward.
  4. Never shout at, or punish, your dog for barking. In fact, it’s important to consider carefully how you react to any barking as the outcome is what could encourage your dog to repeat the behaviour.
  5. Excessive barking needs to be addressed as soon as it starts. A dog won’t ‘grow out’ of this type of reaction, you will need to train it to respond differently. If left to become a habit, this can be really difficult to do.
At PotterPaws we are often asked to help owners with particularly noisy dogs. In this situation we have to turn detective as the barking is really just a symptom of something else. If you are struggling with excessive barking, we’d recommend keeping a diary to start with.
Note down when and how your dog is barking along with any ideas on what might have triggered it. Don’t forget, boredom might be the reason so if it appear nothing has happened before the barking starts, think about whether your dog is getting a healthy amount of mental stimulation during its day.
Next comes observation and we can work with you to understand your dog’s behaviour and come up with a solution to help resolve the issue.
If you’d like to know more about barking, or any other dog behaviours, why not get in touch with us to find out how we can help?