Causes of Dog Barking Problems

Dog barking problems can be frustrating, but they can be solved. First, you must understand the cause of your dog's barking.

Fear Barking

One of the most common causes of dog barking is fear. Dogs are fearful of something—people, dogs, strange noises—and can't get themselves out of the situation so they learn that barking can scare away the offender.

A dog who is fear barking will usually be low to the ground with his tail tucked and body leaning back. Ears may be back as well. Dog will usually charge forward and then run back or be more likely to bark once the scary person/dog is walking away with his/her back turned.

Territorial Barking

Many dogs seem more vocal in their home than they do in a different environment because they are guarding their territory. In fact, many dogs are bred to guard their territory and can't be expected to be quiet when they hear a strange noise or see a potential intruder.

This type of barking will usually be loud and fierce. True territory barking will appear only when the territory is threatened, though your dog may feel the cat across the street is a potential threat when you were hoping he'd only bark at strangers. Body language will be forward with ears and tail up. Dog will probably run the perimeter while barking or standing in the one guarding spot it prefers.

Frustration and Boredom Barking

Dogs can also bark out of frustration. This can look very fierce but is often a way of saying "I really want to play with that dog." Frustration barking may be a little more high-pitched, but it may sound as fierce as territory barking. Dogs will often jump and have ears and tail up. They may pull forward or even look back at you.

Frustration barking and boredom barking are often similar. However, frustration barking will usually happen on walks or during play while boredom barking may happen while your dog is confined or stuck in the back yard all day. This barking will be more flat and repetitive and can continue indefinitely.

Additional Barking Causes

Dogs often bark for attention. They will stand right in front of you and bark or bark from confinement until you let them out. This is a learned behavior that is worked in the past. Dogs will often have excited eyes, ears perked and a relaxed wagging tail.

Prey drive may also cause your dog to bark. This may look like territory or frustration barking as your dog runs from tree to tree, barking at the squirrels and birds. This type of barking is usually easy to pick out because your dog is looking directly at the offender, tail wagging, ears perked and often jumping or running.

Dogs may also bark because they are lonely or because the neighbor dogs are barking. Training methods are often similar, no matter the cause, but it's important to know the difference between a fearful and frustrated dog. The best way to tell the difference is to observe body language, so observe your dog during normal, playful barking as well as during the barking you would like to eliminate.