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Barking Dog – the why and the ways to deal with it!

Updated: Apr 19, 2023


Barking Dog – the why and the ways to deal with it!


Whether you are a dog parent or not, one thing that can get stressful for everyone is a barking dog. It may be problematic for dog parents, if it is often happening or at times, in our opinion, unprovoked. Those people who feel scared of dogs or don’t have dogs but encounter dogs barking at them can be scary thinking the dog may bite! So let us look at why the dog could be barking and what would I do if I saw the dog barking.

"I am excited."

Can we recollect those times when we are super excited and scream in excitement? Well, our dogs are no different. When they are excited to see their humans, other humans, other dogs, they are likely to bark to express their excitement.

What would I do

I would acknowledge their joy and be happy with them but not let this excitement prolong. Instead, I would find ways that can help them calm down. We must identify the difference between joy and excitement. Dogs can be happy and joyful without getting hyper or over-excited. So what the dog needs here is to find ways to calm down. A calm dog can learn and process the environment and find other ways of expressing joy! 

A calm dog can learn and process the environment and find other ways of expressing joy!

am worried."


Dogs have a very different perception of the world when compared to us. They watch, smell, hear, and comprehend the world around them in a different manner. Many of our everyday objects might be very “weird” or scary for our dogs. It can make them feel threatened or even vulnerable because they have no idea what this thing is. And it is very natural for them to bark at these objects.

Often, this “I am worried” barking may not only be at objects but also humans and non-human animals. Again, the dog could be feeling scared, threatened or vulnerable. 

What would I do

The dogs are trying to express that they are feeling scared. If they feel cornered in such a situation, they may want to escalate their signals. Before it reaches that point, I would act as a barrier between my dog and the object or individual that seems like a “monster”. In some cases, I would altogether remove them from the situation. Either way, I am trying to tell the dog that I am there to take care of them and protect them.

I would act as a barrier between my dog and the object or individual that seems like a "monster"

"There is someone or something here."

Dogs also tend to bark when the doorbell rings or sound or commotion close to the house area. We have even heard street dogs bark at vehicles or other dogs or animals (human and non-human animals) entering the street.

This form of barking is because dogs are natural alerters. It means they feel the need to alert their family (of dogs or humans) that someone is entering and intruding their space.

What would I do


The dogs in such a scenario are trying to let the others know, “someone is here, please take care of it”. I would acknowledge the dog, may even thank them. If we can reassure them, convey it to them that we are taking care of the stranger (or intruder), they may eventually not feel the need to bark!

But, if the hustle riles them up, the dog may need to be in a quieter part of our place to remain calm and rest. They would be sleep-deprived and agitated by the constant influx of people near the home.

"I am scared" or "I feel threatened."


We often term this form of barking as “guard barking” or “possessive barking”. We see this when the dog feels that someone has crossed their boundaries. It can happen when they are around edible items, their toys, or in pain and worry that the individual is coming too close and may hurt them.


We misunderstand this bark to be aggressive barking or a dog being possessive or a dog trying to be dominating – you get the gist!


The dog may feel threatened or cornered and that there could be an impending risk to their survival.

What would I do

It is unfair to put any individual in a space where they feel threatened or fear their well-being. The best thing to do is respect their space and create distance between the dog and the "threat

It is unfair to put any individual in a space where they feel threatened or fear their well-being. The best thing to do is respect their space and create distance between the dog and the “threat”.

The dog is asking for this space and trying to create distance. If we try to push the boundaries (because we misread this or because we want to teach the dog to be okay with someone violating their limits), we corner the dog. Then, we put the dog in a place where they may need to react by lunging or biting! This reaction is another reason why this kind of bark referred to as “aggressive”!


"I am calling out to you."

Dogs, like us, are social animals. They love and cherish connections. They may often come up to us and call out to us using simple and subtle body language signals. Since we primarily communicate through words and not with body language, we may miss their subtle cues. If we fail to respond, they feel like, “why is my human not listening to me, I should bark”. And this is what we end up calling “attention-seeking bark”. 

What would I do


The dogs who use this kind of bark are usually looking to meet their need of connection. The simplest and the best thing to do is to fulfil that need. I give them attention and interact with them before they feel the need to bark. When I see them walk up to me, look at me, I acknowledge them and pet them (if they consent to touch) and do not let it escalate to bark at all!

In situations that they do bark, I still fulfil their need for attention. Ignoring them can confuse or disappoint them or result in an escalation or prolonging of barking, none of which is desirable!

Ignoring them can confuse or disappoint them or result in an escalation or prolonging of barking, none of which is desirable!

In situations that they do bark, I still fulfil their need for attention. Ignoring them can confuse or disappoint them or result in an escalation or prolonging of barking, none of which is desirable!

Takeaway


Dogs can bark for other reasons too – frustration, fear, learned barking and so on. Some of these reasons can be a very serious underlying emotional state that may need professional intervention and maybe also help in rehabilitation efforts.

What is important to remember is that barking, like all other behaviours, serve a purpose to our dogs. We must understand that purpose and then respond. Each dog and each situation is undoubtedly different. Sometimes we fall prey to labelling these behaviours – stubborn, dominant, aggressive, possessive. Let us take a step back and see what our dogs are trying to tell us with their barking.

By responding appropriately, reassuring them, helping them calm down, and providing them with ways to cope with the situations’ stress or excitement, we start earning our dogs’ trust!


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