Your dog has several different ways of communicating with you and other animals around her. Primarily your canine companion will use body language, and this could include how she holds her tail, how she moves and how she positions herself when around others. In addition to this, dogs also use vocalization, or barking.
Vocalization is a completely normal and expected part of dog behavior. She may whine, bark, and even howl, all of which are fine for very short periods of time. We may even actively encourage our dogs to make noise in certain situations, such as barking or growling to warn us about potential danger. However, if these sounds tend to go on for long periods of time, or your pet seems to be making noise for no apparent reason, it can quickly become annoying and impact your relationship with one another. Therefore, it is important for your dog to learn when it is acceptable for her to vocalize.
Why is my Dog Barking?
There can be many reasons why your canine pal is barking, whining, or making noise. Some of the most common things that might cause your dog to bark include:
- Excitement – such as when you first come home, when they know they are about to go on a walk, or when you are playing with them.
- Warning – it is normal for a dog to bark if someone comes in close proximity of your property. This is your pet’s way of warning strangers and potential threats to your home that she is prepared to protect you.
- Anxiety – this is particularly common in dogs with separation anxiety. She may also whine or howl.
- Response – dogs often communicate with one another through barking.
- To get your attention – dogs love your attention and aren’t afraid to bark to get it!
- Boredom – your furbaby needs plenty of mental stimulation or she will become bored. If this happens, she may develop a range of bad behaviors, including excessive vocalization.
- Pain – if your pet is in pain or feeling unwell, she may try to let you know by whining, barking, or howling.
Tips for Dealing with Excessive Vocalization in Dogs
The best way to deal with your furball’s excess vocalization is to try and establish what is causing it. If you can, this you may be able to take steps to address the underlying problem which will hopefully stop your pet from feeling the need to tell you what is bothering them. This is particularly the case where the excessive vocalization is caused by pain/illness, anxiety, or to get your attention.
Ensure She Gets Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is a cure for many problems, including dogs who are making too much noise! Most canines have plenty of energy, and if this isn’t kept in check, it can cause them to become stressed and/or anxious, which in turn can lead to behavior problems that include excessive vocalization. Morning walks are one of the best ways to help prevent a build-up of energy during the day.
Provide Mental Stimulation
It is just as important to exercise your dog’s brain as it is her body, and if she isn’t getting enough mental stimulation she could become bored. This could mean incorporating short games into your day together or providing challenging toys for her to play with when you aren’t there. Chew toys that have treats in hard-to-reach compartments are great for this. They are inexpensive and are available from most pet stores.
Help Her to Calm Down
Sometimes dogs bark because they are too stimulated. If she is unable to calm down herself, it is up to you to help her. Learning calming techniques is also useful when you want your furbaby to switch off, such as after play time.
You can help your pet to chill out by teaching her a command that lets her know it is time to calm down. Use a simple word such as ‘quiet’, ‘calm’ or ‘relax’ and positive reinforcement such as praise and treats, and your dog will soon begin to understand what you are asking her to do.
If you are concerned about your dog’s excessive vocalization, or your attempts to control it aren’t working, call Madison Animal Care Hospital for further advice at 256-461-7575.