There are many reasons why a dog may bark. For example, during play, as a greeting or for attention. However, prolonged periods of barking may be because your dog is unhappy, so it is important to identify why this is. If your dog barks a lot when left alone, it may be having difficulty coping by itself. It is important to seek advice from a vet who may suggest referral to a clinical animal behaviourist. They can help you teach your dog that it is alright to be left alone.
Things you can do to try to stop your dog barking:
- Some dogs just don't want their owner to go out. So get the dog used to the idea that you're away for different periods of time at different times of the day. Don't make a fuss of the dog when you leave it.
- Try putting the dog on its own in another room occasionally - at first for a few minutes, then gradually increasing the time it's left alone. Do not return to the dog until it's quiet for a short while. Praise it when you return.
- Some dogs will bark because they want to join in with whatever is going on outside. So try leaving your dog where it cannot see outside, such as a room at the back of the house if there's noise out at the front.
- Some dogs will settle if they can hear a human voice, so try leaving a radio or television on at low volume.
- Try not to leave the dog for long periods - the RSPCA recommends that a dog is not left for more than four hours at a time. If it is unavoidable, try to arrange for someone you can trust with the dog to visit it whilst you're out. Perhaps they could take it for a walk or let it out in the garden for a while.
- If you do have to leave your dog and aren't returning until after dark, then make sure you leave a light on in the house.
If you have a new dog or puppy and intend on leaving it alone but are worried that it might bark, read our information on learning to be left alone.
If it's not your own dog that is barking, read our FAQ Problem with a neighbour's barking dog