Barking dogs - what can I do?

Dogs bark for many different reasons. A dog may bark to express how they're feeling - for example, when they're excited, frustrated, bored or scared. If a dog feels threatened, they may bark to tell somebody to stay away or to leave.

Other times, dogs may bark because they want something in particular, such as their favourite toy. Dogs may also bark when they're in distress - for example - when they're left alone.

Barking is a form of communication and is a completely normal dog behaviour. However, if the amount your dog barks increases or becomes excessive, it can be a sign that something isn't right and it may also cause problems for other people.

If this happens, it's important to address any underlying problems which could be causing your dog to bark more.

My dog has started barking a lot more than usual

If your dog is barking excessively or more than usual, there may be an underlying health issue - for example, any problems with your dog's hearing could be causing the barking. If you suspect your dog's hearing is suffering, or there may be something else wrong always speak to your vet.

My dog barks when left alone

If your dog is barking when you're not around they may be experiencing distress when you are not present. Separation-related anxiety can show itself in a number of ways including barking. The good news is that there are things you can do to help, and to determine what the cause of the barking may be.

My dog barks at visitors or passers-by

Some dogs will bark at people passing by your house or garden. You can try preventing your dog from seeing anybody passing the house by reducing access to windows or gardens.

It's a good idea to have tasty treats and exciting toys to hand - you can use these to distract - ideally, this would happen before they start barking or when interrupting their behaviour with a treat when they come to you.  

How to reduce excessive barking

Prevent boredom - dogs are intelligent, active and social animals so they need lots of exercise, things to do and company to keep them happy and healthy. If your dog is bored, they might spend more time barking.

Make sure your dog has enough to do every day to stop them from getting bored.

  • Establish a good routine - your dog may be barking to communicate that they want to play, want food or need attention. Make sure that you have a daily routine in place for your dog which includes meal times as well as play and exercise, at around the same time each day. A good routine can help your dog to know what and when activities are going to happen and may help to stop them from barking for activities at other times!
  • Dogs bark for so many different reasons and so it's necessary to discover what the cause is. Asking for advice from an expert can help you to understand what is causing the behaviour and they'll also be able to point you in the right direction for help.

For expert guidance, contact a clinical animal behaviourist who'll be able to put a treatment plan together for you and your dog.

Reporting a barking dog

The occasional bark or 'woof' is usually not a problem for neighbours and others in the community but when barking becomes disruptive,it's often considered unacceptable and unpleasant to many people. The dog's welfare may also be compromised, but the owner may not realise that their dog has been barking if they're not around at that time.

If you're concerned about a dog barking excessively near you, there are things you can do:

  • Speak to the owner. They may not be aware that there's an issue, or they may be using some of the advice above to try and resolve the issue.
  • If speaking to your neighbour hasn't worked or isn't an option, try contacting your local council about the noise complaint. This can help resolve the underlying issue, or if there is a welfare complaint they will contact us.
  • Contact your local council about a barking dog.
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