7 Reasons Your Dog Won’t Stop Barking (Video) - Simply For Dogs
Dog Barking

7 Reasons Your Dog Won’t Stop Barking (Video)


Medically Reviewed by Veterinarian Angela Dwyer, DVM on February 8, 2018

When it comes to audible communication, some dogs have multiple noises and vocalizations that they make. Leroy, for example, loves to make weird whining, huffing noises when we are playing, that sound like nothing more than an old man telling me off for getting too rowdy. However, some dogs don’t do anything other than bark – and that can lead to a lot of frustration for both owner and dog.

Imagine that the only way that you could communicate anything at all – from “Move out of my way” to “I love you” to “I need help” was to make the same exact sound. It would be like having a vocabulary of only one word. No matter what you wanted or were trying to say, you could only repeat that one single word. Not only would those around you be confused, but eventually they would probably get pretty annoyed, as well.

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That is what a dog goes through when they bark. Barking is their only means of audible communication for the most part, and they use this same sound to say everything that they could ever want to – and then they deal with us telling them to stop it. Rather than trying to train your dog to not vocalize, it may be a better idea to try to learn why your dog may be barking all the time, so that you can meet their needs and calm them down. Here are seven reasons that your dog could be barking, and how to handle each:

(1) They Need Something from You

The number one reason for a dog barking incessantly is that they need something from you. Whether it’s food, attention, water, a potty break, or anything else, they are telling you that they have a need that they’ve learned that you can meet. Try to use your dog’s body language to determine what they want. If they are prancing or wriggling all around, they likely want to play. Also, pay attention to where they are. If they are barking from beside the door, chances are they want to go outside. If nothing seems to please your dog, try offering food, water, and attention.

(2) They’re Trying to Alert You to Something

The next reason that your dog could be barking non-stop is that they are trying to tell you that something is up. Maybe there’s a person they don’t recognize at the door, or a raccoon hanging out in your flower bed. Maybe there’s a storm coming, and they want you to know that you need to stay in the shelter of your home. Alarm barking means that something has caught their attention, and they want you to know about it because they feel it’s their job to make sure that you are safe and aware. If this type of barking bothers you (say you’ve got delivery men coming all day, or your neighbor’s cat is being particularly nosy but there’s nothing you can do about it), try distracting your dog with a new toy that he can chew on. Chewing gives him something to divert his attention from whatever it is that has him alarmed.

(3) They Are Feeling Anxious or Excited

Anxiety and excitement can often present in very similar ways, in both dogs and in people. Think about it – if you are anxious, your heart races, you sweat, your stomach may feel upset, and your mind won’t stop focusing on one thing in particular. If you are excited, your heart races, you sweat, you get butterflies in your stomach, and you can’t stop thinking about one thing in particular. The only real difference between the two feelings is the context – are you happy about what’s happening, or worried about it? That in turn changes how you react to the feeling. Are you smiling or frowning?

For dogs, however, they have one basic reaction to choose from to express either of these feelings – barking. In addition to their body language, they may bark if they feel upset (for example, if you are leaving for the day) or if they feel excited (for example, when you get home for the day). Excited barking can be a little harder to stop, because your dog is experiencing joy, and you don’t necessarily want to train them to stifle that. The best thing you can do in that situation is to give them attention. Anxiety barking can be managed by managing the anxiety. For example, if your dog gets anxious when thunder claps, consider giving them a thunder shirt to help them feel safer. If your dog barks when you leave, consider crate training so that they feel comfortable with your absence.

(4) They Want Your Attention

Sometimes your dog just wants you to give them attention. They may not have anything in particular they are trying to tell you – they just want some love. This is very similar to a small child latching on to your leg while you walk around, or your partner wanting to snuggle with you on the couch after a long day. Your dog just needs to feel connected to you. A great way to handle this kind of barking is to take your dog for a walk. Grab the leash and head out for a quick jaunt around the block. Not only will your dog get attention from you, but they’ll also get some distractions, which should help them stop the barking.

Another thing you can do in this situation is turn their desire for attention into a way to get some grooming done. Grooming can be a bonding activity if you are gentle and attentive about it. Go ahead and grab the brush and get rid of any loose hairs that they may be shedding. Give their nails, ears, and teeth a once over to make sure they are in good health. You may not want to tackle a bath right at the moment if your dog is water averse, but going through this basic grooming routine every time they want attention teaches them that grooming is a way to get what they want – meaning they’ll be more likely to sit nicely and let you handle these tasks.

(5) They Need More Exercise

Another big reason that dogs bark is that they are bored and in need of exercise. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they get very restless. Too much energy builds up and they start looking for any way that they can to get it out. This may mean becoming destructive in your home, chewing on shoes or destroying doors. It may mean pacing or running through the house. Or, for some dogs, it may mean barking – a lot.

If you suspect that your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, you have two options: you can either get them out for more exercise (by going on walks, going to the dog park, setting up puppy play dates, enrolling them in some canine sports, or playing chase out in the yard), or you can give them things that they can use to occupy themselves. For example, chew toys often help dogs get out excess energy in a quiet way. Try toys that stimulate a dog mentally, such as toys that hide treats in a puzzle they must solve.

Another great way to handle this kind of exercise-driven barking is to increase the intensity of your exercise time together. If you can’t devote any more time than you already do out of your busy schedule, then don’t. Just switch up part of your walk for an intense game of tug-of-war or fetch. This gives your dog a little more activity and burns off more energy.

(6) They’re Greeting or Warning Another Animal

Dogs are often very vocal around other dogs or animals, for two reasons. First, they could simply be saying hello. Remember, dogs only have that one sound for everything they want to express. If a dog sees another dog that he wants to play with, he’ll probably bark. You can often hear dogs having a “conversation” in the neighborhood, barking at each other from multiple yards all over the block. This is frustrating, but really the only way to solve it is to stop your dog from being able to see the other dogs. A fence that prevents them from seeing each other usually stops them from barking at each other – but it’s not foolproof.

Another reason that dogs may bark at other animals is to warn them. Dogs can be very territorial, and if they see another dog or animal getting into what they consider is their space, they will likely growl, howl, or bark, to warn the other animal off. The best way to stop this type of barking is to remove your dog from the area where the other animal is, or to repel other animals from coming into their space. Outside, this may mean a fence around your yard. Inside, this may mean giving each dog its own crate and teaching them not to go into the others’ crates. If you have cats or other pets, consider teaching your dog that the cat’s tree or bed is their territory and is off limits to the dog.

(7) They Are Experiencing Medical Issues

Finally, a dog could be trying to tell you that they are experiencing some sort of medical issue. If your dog is in pain, they may bark to let you know that they need help. Usually, you’ll see other signs of pain in their body language, such as limping or licking at a wound. However, the issue could be internal as well. If a dog has a problem with constipation, for example, he may be barking to let you know that something is wrong. The issue may also be something like fleas that are making your dog itchy.

One big reason that a dog could be barking is old age. As dogs get older, they can often experience cognitive issues, the same way a human can with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Dogs that have these cognition issues may bark out of confusion, being startled, or being unable to cope with sensory input. They may forget their training and revert back to barking behaviors from their puppy stage. They may startle more easily due to a loss of hearing or vision. The way that their brains processes what they experience can change, which means they may bark without even really knowing why themselves.

In any case involving a medical issue, the best way to handle the barking is to treat the condition. That can be difficult, so the best thing to do is head to the vet. If you’ve exhausted every other response to barking and your dog still barks non-stop, the vet can do a thorough check up and make sure that your dog is in good health.

For dogs that are suffering from natural aging, the treatments are more about making your dog feel comfortable than anything. Being careful not to spook your dog when you walk up behind them, or limiting your dog’s activities to one familiar part of the house, or making sure that their schedule stays very predictable, can help them feel more comfortable and less prone to barking.

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The Final Word

As you can see, there are many reasons why a dog may bark, and there are ways to address each of these reasons. You don’t really want to teach your dog to not bark, as it is one of the few ways that they have to communicate with us when they need something, or when something is wrong. But for the sake of your neighbors and your own ears, you do want to be sure that you address the cause of barking. Not only that, but keep in mind that your dog likely needs or wants something when they bark. So by addressing the barking to get it to stop, you’re also ensuring that you meet your dog’s needs. Keep these seven reasons for barking in mind the next time your dog just can’t stop barking.






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