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Why Is My Dog Barking? 9 Reasons for Barking in Dogs

Ashley Bates

Sometimes, there’s nothing more annoying than the incessant yapping coming out of your dog’s mouth. Of course, they probably feel like that about us humans sometimes, too. But you might wonder what all the seemingly unwarranted woofing is about.

Just like us, dogs use barking as a language to communicate. But the message is not always the same. So, here are nine reasons your dog could be barking. Let’s understand your canine’s verbiage a little better.

divider-dog pawDog Barking Is Normal

Even though it might seem overkill sometimes, know that barking is totally normal. Even though there are ways to train good vocal manners, it isn’t a privilege that should ever be taken from your dog. They deserve the right to express themselves, as it is a natural part of their genetic makeup.

But understanding why your dog is barking is the first step to quieting the situation down a bit. Let’s explore the reasons and solutions.

Dog Barking
Image Credit: dahancoo, Pixabay

Reasons for Barking in Dogs

1. Anxiety

Some dogs suffer from generalized anxiety. This condition is medical, so veterinary diagnosis is crucial. Some dogs who have anxiety can bark continually anytime they are out of their humans’ sight. This can disrupt your household and any neighbors around.

Anxiety symptoms in dogs include:
  • Pacing
  • Shaking
  • Whining
  • Growling
  • General uneasiness
  • Restlessness

If anxiety or stress is an ongoing issue with your pooch and it’s disrupting their quality of life, you might want to seek veterinary treatment options.

2. Warning

Who doesn’t want your big bad guard dog to tell you when danger is afoot? Sure, it’s just the same mailman they’ve seen every day for the past 5 years—but who knows? It could be an imposter!

Warning barks aren’t a bad thing. In fact, it lets you know that if ever danger were around, you’d be the first to know.

3. Boredom

Does your dog have anything to keep them occupied? They might just be crying out for something better to do. We’ve all heard the neighborhood dog droning on in the middle of the night for no good reason—other than they are alone and there’s nothing else to do.

Bored Giant Black Schnauzer dog
Image Credit: Frank11, Shutterstock

4. Attention

Is your dog an attention hog? What dog isn’t, right? Their barking could signal that you aren’t giving them as much love as they wish to have.

Whatever it takes to get mom or dad to grab the leash or to give a nice back scratch is necessary. So, try checking to see if this is an issue for your pooch.

5. Fear

Did you leave the vacuum near the doorway again? How terrifying! Your dog might be afraid of something in its environment. This could be something obvious—like a newcomer or an object they are unsure of.

Or, you might have to pay close attention to figure out what’s freaking out your pup. Sometimes, they can sense things or get disturbed by situations we might not think twice about.

scared dog hiding in grass
Image Credit: Isa KARAKUS, Pixabay

6. Playfulness

If your dog is ready for a romp, this might be your invitation. It’s pretty obvious when the barks are meant to get someone riled up. Maybe they saved this for you, or maybe they’re trying to coax another canine companion to have some fun.

Playful barks are often higher pitched, with a light, naughty growl.

7. Hunger

Did you leave the food bowl empty a few minutes after routine feeding time? Hunger can be a real driving force for barking.

This might be your reminder if you haven’t been very good lately about keeping up with routine mealtimes. As soon as they hear the food bag rattle, their tails will be going off—and not their mouths.

bored puppy
Image Credit: thamKC, Shutterstock

8. Territorial

Some dogs don’t like unknown people or animals up in their space. If they are a little cautious about newcomers, the barking could be territorial.

Barking at strange people or animals is perfectly normal and should even be encouraged to a degree. After all, if a stranger is lingering around your home without the best of intentions, an alarm should warn you, right?

Of course, like anything else, this can be excessive and not always warranted—especially if they’ve met this person or animal before. Luckily, it doesn’t take much to turn this problem around.

9. Pain

Has your dog been acting normal lately? If some part of their body (inside or out) is in pain, it might cause more vocalizations than usual. Luckily, you can look for other signs to make sure that you’re on the right path.

If your dog is in pain due to internal or external circumstances, look for accompanying symptoms like:

  • Abrasions
  • Skin irritation
  • Response when pressing on specific areas of the body
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

If you suspect this is health-related barking, it’s best to make an appointment with your veterinarian. They can run blood panels or do a body exam to check for underlying issues.

Harmful Methods to Combat Barking

Some ways people try to curb dog barking that are not ethical—and some are downright cruel.

  • Don’t shout. Shouting will just confuse your dog by encouraging the behavior to continue. You need to address the issue with a calm demeanor without getting wound up yourself.
  • Don’t use shock collars. If you misuse a shock collar or your dog doesn’t understand the correlation, it can have terrible adverse reactions. This can create stress, fear, and aggression in your pooch.
  • Don’t spank or hit. You don’t want to drive a wedge between you and your dog by making them fear you. If they can’t understand why you’re hurting them, it could cause distrust to develop between you, leading to bigger behavioral issues.
  • Don’t opt for vocal surgery measures. Even if your dog’s barking seems painfully excessive, getting surgery to sever their vocal cords is never the answer. Your dog needs to bark as a means of communication and self-expression.
two dogs howling
Image Credit: Andrey_and_Lesya, Pixabay

How to Healthily Channel Dog Barking

  • Ignore the barking. The more you feed into the issue, the more your dog will repeat the behavior. After all, the barking is a cry to get a response. If there is no response, your dog will eventually give up this tactic for recognition.
  • Use a one-word response. If you wrap your hands lightly around their muzzle and use a one-word command, such as “quiet” or “enough”, your dog will soon understand the connection between your request and their barking.
  • Reward corrected behavior. If you redirect your dog’s attention and they stop the barking, reward their behavior with a treat. We all know how food-motivated dogs can be, and this can reap some serious rewards.
  • Make sure your dog has proper energy outlets. Is your dog getting enough exercise or stimulation? If you channel your dog’s energy toward healthy outlets, it could end excessive barking and other “overkill” behaviors altogether.
  • Schedule professional training. If you think your dog could benefit from professional training, you can look for a trainer near you. Soon, with the help of the trainer and your participation, you could have a well-mannered dog instead of a mouthy one.

divider-dog pawDog Barking: Final Thoughts

The bottom line is—your dog will always bark. However, you can work with them to channel the behavior and make it less excessive. If you pinpoint triggers, you can quickly come up with ways to prevent or reduce them.

Remember, stay positive. Also, sometimes no reaction is a reaction. The solution will depend on why your dog is barking—so, proactively look for ways to curb the behavior instead of punishing them for having a voice. Your relationship will be better for it.


Featured Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.