Everyone likes to have their say and our four-legged friends are no different. Dogs bark. Barking is a natural canine occupation, or is it? If your dog has suddenly taken up howling all night long, does it mean it has a problem? Could he be having a resurgence of feral genes and the full moon brings out the wolf in him? Whichever, guaranteed the neighbors won't be very happy and neither will you be with the lack of sleep you're getting.
It’s great to come home and be greeted by a welcoming woof, but not when your dog continues to yap for half an hour while it runs around the house or backyard as if it's got a flea in its ear. Is it trying to communicate something or just being overly exuberant? Is there anything you can do apart from buy a bulk supply of earplugs? Finding out why dogs bark at certain times and learning to understand the language your dog is speaking can make a big difference in curbing any bad vocal habits they might have developed.
The Root of the Behavior
Barking is a dog's form of expression. Listen carefully and you'll soon be able to distinguish different tones when your dog barks. A single whiny yap might signify your pup is hungry and wants some dinner. A constant highly pitched bark could mean he's excited at the new toy you've just brought home or he might be trying to let you know he is afraid of it. A throaty growl can be either playful or display aggression. A constant, agitated bark could mean there is someone lurking by the front door. You just need to learn to speak your dog's language, but don't worry, you don't need to bark back.
Different situations can also encourage your pet to produce some unwanted oral communication, but they will still be trying to tell you something. It could be he missed you when you went off to work, leaving him alone for several hours and when you returned, you got a serious barking lecture of pure animal frustration. Being in open spaces, such as at the park or out in the countryside, can make your dog nervous. He'll bark at every new sight and sound he sees or hears if he's nervous and insecure.
He may well just be expressing his territorial rights to another dog who happens to be walking by if he's up at the window letting rip. He could just be letting you know he wants to go for a walk. By assessing the situation, you'll soon understand just what he's trying to tell you. There's a million reasons why but at the end of the day, it's natural for a dog to bark. It's only a problem if it's excessive or at an inappropriate moment.
We all get complacent at times, if we're busy or life has been more stressful than usual and when that happens, we can react to our pets in a way which confuses them or doesn't give out the right signal. You could, unwittingly, be praising their unwanted behaviour by giving them more attention when they bark than you would do if they didn't. Which, not surprisingly, encourages them to bark even more.
Encouraging the Behavior
A dog that barks too much can be a serious problem because, although you may love them to bits and can put up with their vocalizing, the neighbors might not be so happy to do so and that can turn into complaints or even a more serious issue. In some cities, there are laws about barking dogs, especially after a certain time at night. Therefore, if your little buddy is keeping the neighbors awake all night long with his barking, you may want to seek some type of behavior training.
A barking dog does have its benefits on occasion especially if you live alone. It is a good alert system and can give you a feeling of extra security when you are at home. Not many burglars want to risk tackling a hound's fangs so a loud bark can soon put off anyone with bad intentions.
As Cesar Manrique would say, “it's not the dog, it's the human behind the dog.” So, if you are not happy with the way your pup is behaving, then considering taking some brief training lessons for the both of you might be heading down the right road to a positive solution. Otherwise, you can just let your dog be a dog as long as he is not driving your neighbors crazy.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Dogs can bark to let you know something is not quite right. If your dog does not normally do so much of it, it could be an indication he has something physically wrong. Pain or any other health problem such as an ear infection that you are not aware of will make your pet uncomfortable and so a visit to the vet for an overall check up is well worth considering.
A dog that barks can just be bored so why not take him out for an extra long run around the neighborhood. When you get back, he will be exhausted and fall contentedly to sleep and you will be able to watch your favorite TV show in peace.
Now you know that, yes, dogs do bark, some of the reasons why they do it, and some possible suggestions for solving their barking if it's becoming a problem. Now, all you have to do is convince your dog you'd be happier being greeted by a silent tail wag and see how he takes it. If he's lonely when you're not home, you could always consider getting him some company – in the form of another four-legged friend, of course.