Barking: What’s my dog really saying?

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Jack Russell

Barking can be a frustrating problem for owners, but dogs can take a lot of pleasure in vocalising to you. Most dogs will have a high pitched bark when very stressed or in pain but most barking is done in a mid-low pitch range.There can be lots of different messages they are giving and other reasons they start to bark but looking at their body language and trying to work through the most common reasons will help you to understand:

Frustration: Is their meal delayed? or maybe you taking too long getting ready for their walk.

Excitement: Perhaps you’ve just come home, or they’ve recognised the signs that they’re going dog training.

Alerting you: Doorbell rings or telephone calls, some dogs just like to help.

Fear: Maybe a new dog has come too close, or something has startled him in the dark.

Loneliness: Certain dogs don’t cope well with being on their own and every noise adds to their fears.

Grumpiness: High pitched or loud sounds can disturb and they’re prepared to tell you about it.

Attention seeking: Is it playtime and you hadn’t realised, or are you giving another dog too much attention?

Defending their territory/ Aggression: Some dogs will use barks to show what they won’t accept.

Bear in mind that there can be some medical problems which can cause excessive barking so if your dog has started barking more often it’s worth discussing with your vet. However there are some things to reduce it that you can try at home in the meantime if the barking is persistent or inappropriate:

  • Reward silence, don’t respond to the barking at all and just give a ‘quiet’ command each time. Then praise your dog when he’s quiet.
  • Deal with his fears, ensure your dog feels secure, loved and part of the family. Talk to a behaviourist if he’s showing other signs of insecurity or anxiety.
  • Get out and about, regular walking in your local neighbourhood will help your dog understand where he lives and it will also tire him out so he doesn’t need to bark for entertainment.
  • Work on strategies to make your absence easier if your dog’s not coping well, try small frequent outings not calling attention to when you leave or return. Make sure he’s comfortable while you’re out, has a warm comfy bed, chew toys and a radio for company and turn off the phone and doorbell.
  • Try dog training, not only will this help you to bond closely with your dog, but they can also work with his barking habits and offer professional advice.

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