Fun fact: Wolves don’t bark. Humans are the reason that dogs started barking. Well, to be more specific, our human ancestors selectively bred dogs to bark. If you cannot stand your dog barking, you may have your ancestors to blame. During domestication, humans favored dogs who would bark because it scared intruders, alerted owners, and helped herd animals.
Bark As Communication
Barking is a form of communication. Dogs use it to get attention, show excitement, scare off strangers or enemies, and to communicate with their owners. If your dog barks frequently, you may be partly responsible. Dogs learn from their masters. How you train your dog, what you respond to, and when you respond are all factors that affect a dog’s propensity to bark. If you respond to your dog’s barking, you are basically rewarding him or her with attention. If you reward unwanted behavior, expect to get more of it.
What’s The Matter
Try to figure out what your dog is trying to say. Sometimes a dog is barking for good reason—maybe it senses an intruder or someone at the door—but other times, dogs simply bark for attention. The best way to address a dog who is barking needlessly is by only giving the dog attention when he or she is not barking. Petting, feeding, or playing with a dog after he or she starts barking only rewards unwanted behavior. Pet or play with your dog often, but only when they are quiet or no longer barking. By waiting until a dog stops barking before you give him or her attention, you are teaching your dog that barking should be kept to a minimum if they want attention.
Territorial dogs are especially prone to barking frenzies. Some will bark not only at people approaching the front door but also at any unfortunate soul in the neighborhood, regardless if they are in view or just walking down the block. When this happens, it is best to distract the dog. Play with him or her or capture their attention with a toy. Only reward your dog with a treat after he or she has quieted down. Walking your dog more often around the neighborhood may help familiarize him or her with the various sights and smells and begin to teach your dog that the area is shared by many other animals and people, most of which mean no harm.
Communication is key. Always try to ascertain why your dog is barking, and if your dog is barking needlessly, do not reward him or her with attention. If you can break the habit of unnecessary barking by only giving your dog the attention he or she needs when they are quiet, your connection with your dog will be a lot stronger and you will finally live in peace.