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What is Excessive Barking?

When the barking behavior becomes uncontrollable and excessive, dog owners begin to look for solutions. Many times, excessive barking can be discouraged by modifying the behavior and changing your dog’s environment. There are times when excessive barking requires the services of a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist.

Barking is a normal part of a dog’s communication and behavior. Dogs will use vocalization as a way to communicate with each other and with you. Many people will tell you that their dogs talk to them and while the dog may not be able to form traditional words, they are able to get their point across and have their owners understand what they are “saying”. Excessive barking in dogs can become a nuisance and be problematic for the dog’s owner. 

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Symptoms of Excessive Barking in Dogs

Excessive barking in dogs can be problematic, but it can also signal that something is wrong. Your dog may be barking excessively because they are uncomfortable or in pain, this is especially true in senior dogs that are experiencing bone and joint discomfort from arthritis. 

Usually, barking can signal that your dog is happy, bored or insecure, but there are other reasons a dog will bark including:

  • Seeking attention
  • Warning or alerting to the presence of danger
  • Excitement
  • Self-identification within a group
  • Boredom
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Lonely or anxious
  • Startled

Causes of Excessive Barking in Dogs

There can be several different factors surrounding excessive barking in dogs. Your dog will bark as a way to communicate with you and if you are not able to properly interpret their barking, they may become more persistent or even frantic. Your dog may be barking excessively because they are anxious or are alarmed due to a strange situation. Many times when your dog is excessive in their barking, it is a behavioral problem. There may be some instances when your dog is suffering from pain or illness that causes your dog to bark excessively. Other possible causes of your dog’s excessive barking include:

  • Territorial barking
  • Conflict or alert barking
  • Pain or illness
  • Boredom 
  • Seeking attention or separation anxiety
  • Compulsive disorders
  • Breed traits

Your veterinarian will need to fully assess your dog’s overall health to determine that there is not an underlying condition that is causing your dog to be extremely vocalized. If no medical condition is found, you may consider checking with a dog behaviorist to determine the cause of your dog’s excessive barking and discuss how to help your dog become better adjusted to their environment.

Diagnosis of Excessive Barking in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog’s excessive barking is due to a medical condition, speak with your veterinarian and have your dog thoroughly checked out. Your veterinarian will need to gather your dog’s medical history and will also want to know how your dog spends their day, including their exercise routine and social interactions. 

A full physical examination will need to be conducted as well as a complete blood count, biochemistry panel, electrolyte panel, urinalysis and fecal exam. Other diagnostic tests may be ordered by your veterinarian to rule out other possible conditions. 

After your veterinarian has determined whether or not a medical issue is causing your dog to bark excessively, you will need to discuss your treatment options with your veterinarian. Medical conditions will obviously need to be treated by your veterinarian. Behavioral issues will need to be referred to either a professional dog trainer or a dog behaviorist. Your veterinarian may be able to refer you to a trainer who can help you figure out what is causing your dog’s excessive barking.

Treatment of Excessive Barking in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with a medical condition that is causing them to bark excessively, your veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you. Generally, dogs that bark excessively when they are ill or in pain will need to have their pain managed with prescription medications. Discuss all possible treatment options to determine which one has the best chance of success with your veterinarian. 

Dogs suffering from behavior issues will need to have a plan created, usually by a professional dog trainer or a dog behaviorist, to address the issues causing your dog’s excessive barking. You will not want to reinforce the excessive barking, this includes punishing the behavior. Your goal will be to modify your dog’s behavior so they become well adjusted to their environment and stop the excessive barking.

Recovery of Excessive Barking in Dogs

Dogs that are suffering from a medical disorder will need to be closely monitored by your veterinarian. As your dog’s treatment plan progresses, you will be able to get a better diagnosis from your veterinarian. Be sure to discuss medications, side effects and treatments with your veterinarian.

Dogs that are suffering from a behavioral issue will require training and time. A professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist will be beneficial in training your dog to be able to adjust to their environment.