20 Jan

Understanding why your dog barks at home and things you can do to reduce their barking

We react in a similar way if we see hear or feel something that either interests or scares us, so we want to tell someone about it, or want to make it go away by shouting or screaming. 

When we feel the person, we are speaking to is not listening we repeat ourselves or raise our voices to get heard. 

This is what your dog may be doing in the home if we do not respond accordingly, or they are home alone and there is nobody to respond to them. So, if they do not think they are being heard, they may continue until they know they have been heard or the thing they are barking at has gone away. 

Barking in the home is one of the behaviours I am asked to help with as it annoys the dog’s family, and often causes conflict with neighbours.

Things your dogs may trigger your dog to bark at in the home. 

Noises or movement such as: 

  • Outside Triggers – Movement or noise from cars & vehicles moving around or doors closing, house doors closing, neighbouring dogs barking, people walking down the street, voices in gardens or the street, cats or other animals in your garden or the surrounding area, workmen in the area and fireworks
  • Inside Triggers – Sudden or loud noises caused by the doorbell, the TV or other electronic devices or voices. Also, sudden movement on the TV or changes to the environment such as furniture being moved

 They are trying to get your attention for some reason such as they: 

  • Want some affection from you or they are bored.
  • Need to go to the toilet go for a walk or be fed.
  • Have heard or sensed something they are unsure of

On previous occasions they may have tried to get your attention by using other possibly non-verbal methods of communication to get you to listen to them before they bark as that usually gets your attention such as: 

  • Getting up, moving around and looking at you.
  • Nudging, pawing, or jumping up
  • Whining or crying you so they bark as they know it will get a response.

 Here are some things you can do to reduce barking in the home 

  • Notice when your dog begins to communicate with you in any of the ways mentioned above and be sure to communicate back by speaking to them, touching them or following them to find out what they want you to know. If you are aware of your dog and get into the habit of doing the above when they are telling you something they may not have to escalate into barking or the other more intrusive behaviours to gain your attention.
  • If your dog barks at a sudden noise outside such as a post or delivery person or someone walking past the house. Rather than tell or shout at them to be quiet or whatever else you do from a distance, go to where they are barking and check if it is actually something you should be aware of.  Then gently stroke them and thank them for telling you they had seen, heard or sensed something they thought you should know about. You can then either deal with the subject of the alert such as answer the door if needed and move them away calmly as you have responded to their concern.
  • If you are aware that they regularly bark at noises or movement when there is nobody at home and it is upsetting them or your neighbours. Ensure that they have a comfortable place to settle in an area away from where all the noises and movement can be best seen or heard. If it is noises that disturbs them play music or other background noise so sudden noises do not make them startle. If it is movement from outside that causes the barking close the curtains or blinds in the rooms, they have access to or leave them in a room away from these triggers. I also suggest setting up a camera with sound so you can learn what disturbs your dog when you are not at home so you can look at addressing these situations.

Do not use anti bark equipment as these don’t address the cause of the barking and may distress your dog. 

Remember barking is one of the ways dogs communicate to us, other people, animals and even objects such as cars. If the way they use this communication annoys us or may disturb others 

It is up to us to understand what they are saying to us and learn to respond to any ways they have previously tried  to ”speak” to us. Also find different ways to respond if they are barking as a reaction to a sudden noise or movement. 

These suggestions are to help you manage and respond to the specific situations of when your dog barks at common triggers or they are asking you to do something for them. 

They will not be appropriate if the reason your dog is communicating is due to other triggers such as pain, fear or distress

 If this is the case I suggest you ask for assistance from a vet or consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviourist who offer gentle, rewarding & pain free method of training for guidance and support.

If you have an issue with barking and would like to speak with me  Click Here to contact Gill at Speaking Spaniel dog training & behaviour support.

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