Why Do Dogs Bark Excessively?

A barking dog is a common problem among dog owners and is often the top complaint of neighbors who listen to the restless protests of a dog confined to a yard and bored to death. Dogs are pack animals with strong bonds to their family members; it is unnatural for them to be alone for hours at a time. In their boredom and frustration, they tend to bark, which is self-reinforcing. Barking is an emotional release, a way for a dog to express its emotion and let out bottled-up anxiety and frustration.

A dog that barks too much falls into one of three categories: the dog that barks when left alone; the dog that barks at visitors, noise, and people passing by while you are home; and lastly the dog that barks at you for attention. Excessive barking is a symptom of a larger issue. In general it means that the dog needs something that he isn't getting or is being consistently reinforced for the wrong behavior.

Thinking creatively about changing your dog's environment may give you a little more peace and quiet. Consider planting a row of bushes in your yard, or close the front blinds to block your dog's view of the neighborhood. Distractions will be less apparent to her, and she won't feel the need to bark as much.

Meet Your Dog's Needs

All dogs need a healthy diet, a predictable schedule, lots of exercise, interaction with people and other dogs, training, a safe place to sleep and rest, and a stimulating environment with toys and things to chew. Dogs also need to be taught from the time they are puppies to be content when they are away from you so that they come to expect that you will return predictably to take care of their needs.

Finding a Happy Medium

Just like people, well-adjusted dogs are happy. Finding a healthy balance between time alone and time with people is essential for the emotional well-being of any dog. Dogs that are with their owners all the time can also become excessive barkers when their owners do leave them even briefly. These dogs become inappropriately bonded to their owners and in their absence find it difficult to cope with being alone. This overattachment between owner and dog can erode the dog's self-confidence and contentment when they are alone. Take a moment to examine how much or how little time you spend with your dog and make the necessary adjustments to help him feel confident and secure.

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