Dealing with excessive barking in dogs.

Excessive Barking in Dogs

Dealing with Dogs that Excessively Bark

Excessive barking is a common canine behavior problem that can lead to sleepless nights for dog owners, angry neighbors, legal action, and even eviction. For the dog, this behavior can lead to abandonment, abuse by neighbors or owners, or even euthanasia.

However, most barking dogs are not behaving abnormally. Rather, they are responding to an environmental stimulus and/or displaying normal alerting behavior. Some breeds tend to bark more than others. Whining and howling often accompany barking.

The Root of a Dog’s Excessive Barking

To solve a problem with barking, a definite cause for the behavior must be sought and addressed. Barking is a sign of a problem, not a diagnosis. There are many reasons why dogs bark excessively. Some of these include:

It’s important to have your dog thoroughly examined by a veterinarian to rule out any contributing medical problems. This examination is an important part of any behavioral work-up. Blood tests may be recommended, especially if drug therapy is part of the treatment plan.

When you consult with a behaviorist, be prepared to answer many detailed questions regarding your dog and their behavior. The answers will help lead the behaviorist to the cause of the barking, which will help in developing an individualized approach to resolving the problem. An initial consultation may take a couple of hours. A good behaviorist will follow-up with you until the problem is resolved.

Direct observation of your dog’s behavior is important. Note what circumstances cause the barking, how long the barking lasts, and what causes it to end. Also, note what your dog looks like when they are barking. Video or audiotaping may be necessary if you are not home when the barking occurs.

Treatment for Dogs That Excessively Bark

Treatment is based on the causes of the barking. A treatment plan may include one or more of the following:

Because there are many reasons for barking, treatment must be based on the specific cause. A behaviorist can help you with a treatment plan.

Until you receive help, prevent your dog’s exposure to stimuli that causes barking. This may include keeping your dog inside or away from the windows, keeping windows closed to minimize noise, using a doggy day care service, or leaving the dog with someone when you are away. Bark collars (citronella or shock) should not be used without guidance from a professional. Excessive use of shock collars is cruel and may even make the barking worse.