Animal House: Why Is My Dog Barking? | WGLT

Animal House: Why Is My Dog Barking?

Aug 1, 2017

Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. And, of course, dogs gotta bark. But what does it mean when your pooch barks?

Dogs bark for myriad reasons. Sometimes it’s territorial, sometimes they’re bored or afraid. And sometimes they’re just lonely. Separation anxiety can lead to excessive barking. If you put some time and attention towards your dog’s barking, you can successfully deal with the issue, explained dog trainer Bob Ryder from Pawsitive Transformations.

"Some detective work can take you a long way toward figuring out what is motivating your dog to bark."

“Sometimes a health issue can trigger barking. If your dog’s bark has changed suddenly, it’s louder or longer or different, I think a medical checkup is in order.”

Barring any health issues, like arthritis or hearing loss, watch for patterns in your dog’s barking.

“Does it happen incessantly, at certain times of day or does it come and go depending on passersby?” said Ryder. “Does it happen in the car or in the house but never in the back yard? Some detective work can take you a long way toward figuring out what’s motivating your dog to bark and how to make some interventions.”

By interventions, Ryder does not mean yelling at the dog, hitting, using shock collars or anything that hurts the animal. Dogs bark to communicate. Find out why your dog is communicating with you to solve the problem. When your dog barks and you instantly give him attention, you can reinforce the barking behavior. Instead, redirect the dog’s attention away from barking and find another activity to distract the dog from whatever was making him bark. 

Also, set up the environment to discourage barking behavior. Try closing the blinds or employ a baby gate if the dog barks at the FedEx guy or the kids playing football next door. Meeting your dog’s needs can pull him away from barking habits and allow him to focus on more quiet pursuits.

You can also listen to the full Animal House interview:

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.