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Why Do Dogs Bark? - And what to do about it!

 Reviewed 13 June 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto
 
control-your-barking-dog

This came up recently on Quora and except for one, the existing 30 answers were appalling. Hence ours here:

Why do dogs bark? - And what to do about it!

One of them even promoted an infographic that - if you are a Cynophilist(?), a dog lover(??) - you must find shocking too like I do! And so I added my notes right into it: mrgreen

why do dogs bark

By the way you see the "kids magazine" (it is from one! eek) reference the Basenji there. As already children learned from the lovely pictured stories in this children's book: Basenjis are an unusual dog breed.

However Basenjis don't "sing", no, but their different dog barks sounds are so special it can scare off any intruder, and then beware when the dog jumps up to your face:

allow-for-humor-have-fun

So then I looked what the always worsening Google has to offer and I got to see more crap "advice" dominated by that webmd.com full of copied, thin and medically mostly wrong content.

And worse, did you notice? They (1) split thin content over multiple pages, and (2) they manipulate the "back button"! Both so that you cannot leave the site fast: this reduces their "bounce rate" and so improves their search ranking. Outright EVIL, and Google supports that! evil

pt-rt-gr Therefore now, here's the truth: Why do dogs bark? - And what to do about it!

From the cynologist Tim Carter at the cynology hub MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG. grin

Let's get the most POPULAR WRONGS about dog barking out of the way right now:

prove-them-wrong

1 "my dog barks at everything!"

my-dog-barks-at-everything

A dog that barks at everything at least has good taste: Everything is really good wink

No, without training the dog barks only at:

  1. what agitates the dog
  2. what scares the dog
  3. what bothers the dog.

Anything else is just trying to add bloat to list points: all is included in the above three.

So identify which it is, and you can control the barking dog!

Just don't even wish to stop dog barking altogether, because ... see 5) below!

2 "why do dogs bark at nothing?"

why-do-dogs-bark-at-nothingDogs do not bark "at nothing", no. When you think "there's nothing" it's just that:

  1. you don't hear it
  2. you don't smell it
  3. you don't sense it
  4. you didn't see it.

It's one of these four, nothing else.

3 "why do dogs bark at night for no reason?"

dog-barking-at-nightThere's always a good reason for dog barking, and at night again the dog barks because:

  1. something agitates the dog
  2. or something scares the dog
  3. or something bothers the dog.

And so:

  • you either find out WHAT and then SOCIALIZE the dog for the stimulus
  • or you live with it doh! unless you die from it. mrgreen

4 "why do dogs bark at me?"

why-do-dogs-bark-at-meBecause you haven't learned all that is offered at MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG, and dogs notice when people are ignorant or negligent. eek

This really is true, hence why I underlined it:

  • dogs do notice when you ignore them - particularly as guest in a dog owner household pay respect to the dog first and you'll be treated SO MUCH BETTER
  • and dogs do notice when you don't care about the potential danger from that leaf that blows in your path. doh!

5 "BARKING is TALKING"

dog-barking-like-human-shoutingNo, I now know this isn't the full truth:

A dog's BARKING is like the owner's SHOUTING!

That is: Despite how annoyed we feel that "the dog is barking too much", the dog has been communicating with body language much more by then, and realized no one listened = watched, no one acted on what the dog communicated all along.

  • When we people notice that we are not being given the requested attention, we start SHOUTING.
  • When dogs notice this, they start BARKING.

non-stop-dog-barking

Most dogs, including German Shepherds, really only bark (shout!) when they experienced and so expect that their body language alone may go unnoticed.

Dogs learn this fact as early as puppy age: "These people don't see what I show them, I gonna have to bark it out loud!"

In fact, people are way more talkative than the most barkative dog:

  • We talk about everything we feel, hear or see - even to ourselves...
  • More so: Many people talk to some imaginary entity they hope or fear exists...
  • Kids are even being taught to!
  • And: Many people talk to their plants too...

What I observed: The more talkative we people are, the more barkative become our dogs: Dogs adapt.

In other words: If you find your dog barks way too much(?) try a contest "Silence is Golden" and see how much that reduces your dog's barking? wink

Dogs normally avoid barking because it drains a lot of energy - see the explanation of Energy Tools in the Dog Training Toolkit if interested. Or just go shouting at your spouse or boss for a while and see how exhausting that is. wink

6 "sleep barking is a sign of sickness or of bad dreams"

sleep-barkingNo, like in people and other "higher developed" species, the dog brain processes life during sleep: it saves the experiences from the day with emotions so that they can be readily remembered.

7 "many dogs suffer compulsive barking"

compulsive-barkingNo, compulsive barking is so much rarer than commonly copied, it is almost non-existent!

Instead, such dog is horribly STRESSED, and you should provide stress relief to the dog, or else the dog:

  • will become sick
  • and may end up biting someone.

Because:

Persistent subliminal stress is the Number One cause of dog aggression (and of people aggression too).

And what's the Number One cause of persistent subliminal stress in dogs?

It's: the Pack Conflict!

And what's the Number One cause of acute stress in dogs? And therefore the prime cause of dog barking?

It's: Lack of socialization!

In fact that's Number One, Number Two, Number Three:

Lack of socialization is the single BIGGEST reason for TONS of dog problems, including excessive barking, whether from that annoying neighbor's dog or from your own.

Because, the more comprehensively the dog is socialized:

  1. the less agitates the dog!
  2. the less scares the dog!
  3. the less bothers the dog!

Indeed. razz

take-thought THINK: You can get yourself a desktop stress buster - and for many that's the best stress relief besides a long hot shower - but what does the dog get?

A chew toy like the Hurley is not actually stress relief, no: a chew toy only offers temporary distraction from stress!

control-your-barking-dogBut no dog is going to chew on the best chew toy forever... (and it isn't a toy, it's a "chew treat")

  • And so particularly at night when boredom sets in, the stressed dog continues to suffer!
  • And then likely also barks more at ordinary stimuli which the dog would otherwise ignore.

take-note Note here that dogs do not sleep through like people do.

A continuous sleep of two hours is a LOT for a dog. Most dogs then naturally wake up to check on the surroundings.

Now living like a dog, certainly right next to the dog...

Sharing tiny space with dog teaches you everything

... teaches me dog lessons that obviously cannot be learned any other way. And so now I also know a lot more about dog sleep, and even: its impact on dog barking.


Now with the most POPULAR WRONGS about Why do dogs bark cleared from the mind (or not?):

pt-rt-gr What to do about it?

Neighbors dog barking at night

That neighbor's dog that always disturbs us with his barking day and night: that dog lacks comprehensive socialization!

But believe me: I've tried it all, and complaining about the dog barking does not help. sad

Whether you walk over to the neighbor and complain, or whether you call the police or even the local dog shelter, usually none of that helps!

So what does help then?

take-action As always: address the cause, not the symptom!

You now know the cause of that fricking annoying neighbors dog barking at night and at day, it is: Lack of comprehensive socialization!

Thus the single best, the most effective, and often the only way to stop that neighbors dog barking is to walk over to the neighbor frequently, but not to complain, instead the goal is to get their permission to walk their dog!

This works well: "You will be so glad. Your dog will be so much calmer and more relaxing for you. And your dog is totally safe with me." *

* Accentuate the underlined words for impact!

If you don't pick the right words, for example if you say "I gonna socialize your dog", they won't have a clue and say "No!" eek

And you must walk over and offer it frequently: Would you outright trust your neighbor that your dog is safe with them?

I've been suffering insanely much under neighbors dog barking, and I tell you: Unless you "get over it" (which is impossible), the surefire way to "tackle it" is to walk their dog for socialization and exercise - without saying that you will.

feed-the-barking-dog

And once the neighbors give permission, meet as many dogs and people as possible during each walk: different stimuli!

Because:

  • Socialization is permanent stress relief!
  • Exercise is temporary stress relief.
  • Even the best chew "toy" is temporary distraction from stress.
  • Shouting at the dog is abetment.

Therefore it won't help you for long if you "shower" that neighbor's dog in elk antlers, hurleys, or whatever. Nor if you "shower" your neighbor with presents (this may help the first time though to get their permission, but I wouldn't start with the bribe).

Obviously, so that the neighbors' dog truly is safe with you:

how-to-train-your-dog-with-treats

Once the neighbors give permission to walk their dog, it will take just a few socialization walks to improve your situation long-term (and the neighbors' situation too, but why would you bother). It takes myself one or two walks in general (few dogs/owners have bigger issues to tackle).

You can't know, and it won't be your primary interest when you suffer from neighbors dog barking at night or during the day, but: You may even end up getting paid or rewarded in other ways once the neighbors figured: "Hey, my neighbor is SO GOOD with dogs!"

I can guarantee though: No one ever became good with dogs who used treats in training. It is counterproductive, and the ONLY reason why it's being done and recommended everywhere is:

Cheating on training with treats gives fast temporary success because it conditions the dog to the desired action.

Fast temporary success is exactly what "dog trainers", or more precisely Dog Conditioners desire:

  • it ensures they get paid, and paid fast
  • and it ensures you have to come back for more conditioning.
Dog-Trainer-or-Dog-Conditioner

BUT as already Pavlov knew and wrote about: All conditioning only yields a subconscious reflex action, it is NO conscious adoption of desired behavior, it is NO TRAINING.

This is why a "treat-trained" dog never is a well-trained dog: such dog behaves very different depending on whether the "treat trainer" is nearby or not!

Such dog has not learned reliable behavior, only some subconscious reflex actions.

There's A LOT to learn, and from all I see out there... you can only learn it from MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG. Hence why others copy so wildly from us! twisted

How to stop a puppy from barking at night

If it's the neighbor's puppy, proceed as I described above, it works best!

And if it's your own puppy?

Or your new rescue dog?

Or your adult dog still??

Then remember what I explained above:

If you feel your puppy or adult dog is barking too much, then your puppy or adult dog is horribly STRESSED, likely both:

  • persistent subliminal stress from the Pack Conflict experienced by the dog (not by yourself, I know)
  • and acute stress from each stimulus the dog hears, smells, senses, or sees but has not been socialized with.

Let's be frank so that it sinks in: We cannot complain about our own dog's barking if we are too ignorant or too negligent to comprehensively socialize that animal:

  • that we desired to adopt from nature, where the animal would otherwise live if not domesticated
  • and that we now subject to many stimuli that only occur in the human world
  • and that we now expect to react to any and all stimuli the way we people prefer.

Right?

1 The bare minimum barking relief - relief for the dog, relief for us, and relief for neighbors - is that we regularly exercise the dog, all the more if it is a herding dog like the German Shepherd, or other high energy dogs.

How much is regular exercise depends on:

  1. dog breed
  2. dog age
  3. dog health

But I will say: for any dog breed, regular exercise always means daily exercise. Even for the naturally "laziest" dogs, yes.

Because the difference is not to be made in exercise frequency but in:

  1. exercise amount
  2. and exercise variety

Don't be fooled by "laziest dog" lists on average "blogs": Many list for example the French Bulldog and the Shih Tzu in the top 10 or even right at the top! And for BOTH I know this is far from the truth!

IF genuine at all(?) then those who wrote the first list must have been exceptionally lazy themselves, such that the dog adapted - and as always all the other lists then just copied, which does not give the rankings any more validity... rolleyes

For a German Shepherd puppy detailed suggestions and warnings for exercise amount and exercise variety are in the Puppy Development Guide - Puppy 101, and also in My New Puppy Diary.

But remember what I said above:

Exercise is temporary stress relief only!

And so in that case:

2 If you go for the bare minimum (1) then you would have to provide a good variety of the best chew toys and chews to provide temporary distraction from stress when you don't exercise the dog.

But what at night? How to stop a puppy from barking at night?

And how to stop dog barking at night?

And, if you care about your dog or about your neighbors: How to stop dog barking when left alone?

Then without your motivation your puppy or adult dog may not for long continue exercising on that puppy treadmill or bigger dog treadmill, or whatever else you provided.

Likewise, at night or when left alone, without your presence your puppy or adult dog may not for long continue chewing on the best chew treat.

You see the problem?

This is why I rightfully said above:

3 There's no way around comprehensive socialization.

Lack of socialization is the Number One, Number Two, and Number Three cause of excessive dog barking.

Only Socialization is permanent stress relief

Start now to socialize your dog comprehensively, make it your hobby.

The rewards will be lifelong, I can guarantee.

 

 


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