There can be many underlying causes behind your dogs barking. If you know the ‘why’, it can help to change the problem. Barking is one of the ways your dog communicates. Here we look at some of the reasons behind the bark:
- Nature- Domestication has encouraged barking in dogs, many breeds can have a greater tendency to bark than others, such as terriers or hounds. This barking would have assisted in their working roles and as such would have been deliberately bred for. This is something that owners should be aware of as the problem may not be ‘fixed’ entirely and instead will need to be managed, accepted to a degree or put on cue. Another reason for the barking may be due to separation anxiety, if you have an anxious dog there are ways to help reduce this anxiety of being left alone.
- Nurture- As with any behaviour that increases, if the barking has intensified, it has been reinforced in some way. If it has been previously unintentionally rewarded, your dog may bark as a way to get attention from you. Barking may have been encouraged to play, for treats or to go outside. Your dog may have learnt that barking at something they are unsure of will cause that scary thing to move away and therefore it becomes the best offensive strategy. It could also be that your dog has the learned to bark from other dogs?
- Physiological causes- Is your dog disorientated or confused? If your dog is getting older, the barking may be the result of doggy dementia (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction CCD) or may be because she is losing one or more of her senses. Your dog may be in pain from illness or injury, or in a painful situation and barking in response to this. There could also be a hormone issue such as a thyroid problem or it may be a stereotypical behaviour.
- Pharmacological causes: There are drugs with side effects that can influence behaviour such as increasing aggression, irritability, hyperactivity, or hunger which all can trigger extra barking. Anti-seizure medications for example, can have paradoxical effects causing aggression, agitation or hyperactivity.
- Environmental influences- Your dog may be spooked by something and therefore bark in response; they can also be territorial and bark at people walking by or the mailman. This can cause a domino effect and set off the street. Alternatively the barking may be in excitement, frustration, boredom or loneliness. For example, if there is a female dog in season nearby, this can also trigger barking with all neighbourhood dogs.As you can see there are many reasons why your dog may be barking and knowing the underlying reason will help in finding the right way to go about fixing it. If you are looking for support in conquering this problem we can help.
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