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Ask Gizmo > Why do some dogs bark all the time or almost at anything?

Sylvia Wes

Sylvia WeSylvia is our lead dog behavior specialist and has been a professional in the dog industry for over 10 years.

www.dogupinthisbitch.com & follow her on Instagram: @dogupinthisbitch

Sometimes it can feel like our dogs are just always barking. For some, it can seem as though they are barking at nothing at all.

In order to understand why your dog is barking, it is important to identify the different types of barking there are and what your dog might be trying to communicate to you.

Why do some dogs bark all the time or almost at anything?

Rosie asked:

Play Barking:
This is a high pitched bark, often accompanied by your dog bringing you a toy or displaying a play bow. This type of bark will be repeated in a series and can almost be rhythmic. If your dog is displaying this, it’s simply their means of getting you to engage in some play with them. Can be acknowledged by the owner if the owner agrees to engage in play or has already been engaged in play up to this point.

Attention Seeking Barking:
This bark is a consistent pitched and delivered bark. Your dog will usually be at your feet or could even be by the door trying to get you to engage and get up and let them out. Often times this type of barking makes us say things like “What do you want?”. It is very important to not reinforce or encourage this type of barking. If you suspect your dog is attention seeking barking, ignore them or leave the room.

Territorial Barking:
This is a repetitive intense bark that will likely increase in intensity and will most likely be mixed in with growls and other various huffs and puffs. Territorial barking is displayed when your dog feels as though someone or something has intruded on their property. This barking is typically derived from fear and insecurity and should generally be discouraged. If you have a dog exhibiting territorial barking behaviors, you may consider calling in a behavioral specialist.

Alarm Barking:
High Pitched and sequential barking, like an “alarm” sound. This type of barking is actually very useful as it is “protection based” and should definitely be acknowledged by the owner. If you know your dog is alarm barking and it is warranted, tell them “good job” and then call them into the kitchen or room you are in to reward them for a job well done. They are just letting you know something might be on your property. If you notice excessive alarm barking you can shift when your rewards happen to cut down on the amount and frequency of alarm barking and hone it back into a useful cue, as opposed to having your dog alerting to the mailman being nextdoor.

Excitement Barking:
Typically present when you just get home or someone new and exciting comes over. A high pitched exuberant bark, typically analysis of body language is useful to determine the difference between territorial and excitement barking. Excitement barking will typically be accompanied by jumping, spinning, and an overall loose floppy body language. Generally should be ignored by owner to curtail or stop excessive barking at slight environmental changes (i.e. someone returning home or friends coming over)

Fearful Barking:
Barking in sequence, typically one or two in a row and repeated. Low barking and low grumbles may also be associated. To identify Fearful barking, analysis of body language is useful. A low head and tight drawn lips will typically be present. Stiff tense body language and even raised hackles are all indicators of fear barking. Withdrawal, running away and excessive lip licking are also tell tale signs of fear based behavior. If your dog is exhibiting fear barking they might become a “bite risk” and it is recommended to consult a behavior specialist immediately.

Some things to keep in mind; your dog can hear and smell much better than you ever could. This being said, while to us it might feel as though they are barking into thin air, they may actually be alerting to us that the mailman just pulled down our street.

If you are unsure what kind of barking your dog is exhibiting, take a sec to look at their overall body language. If you see anything that seems tense, fearful or aggressive, get help right away. Many of these behaviors can be treated with the right timing, patience, stimulation and positive reinforcement without ever escalating.
 

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