Excessive Dog Barking.

Barking, howling, whining and a myriad of noises in-between, is the way in which dogs express themselves to other dogs, but also towards their human caretakers. Barking is a natural behaviour and no owner should expect to have a dog that always remains totally quiet! However, excessive, prolonged barking, can not only be a nuisance to owners, but to nearby neighbours as well. This Holidays4Dogs article considers the problem of excessive dog barking and how to address it.

Barking is perhaps one of the reasons we love dogs. Dogs have long been regarded as guardians of human families and properties. However, while it is helpful for the pet dog to alert the family to strangers, frequent and prolonged barking can lead to conflict with surrounding neighbours.

Why dogs bark.

It is important for an owner to work out the reasons why their dog is barking frequently. By determining the cause of the barking, the owner can then act accordingly.

There are many reasons why a dog might bark excessively. The dog could be suffering pain, or discomfort. Older dogs suffering from canine dementia may also be inclined to bark more frequently.excessive dog barking

Likewise, dogs with loss of hearing, may bark more frequently. If you suspect your dog is suffering from a health condition related to excessive barking, seek veterinary advice.

Barking can be also be due to territorial behaviour, fear, boredom, separation anxiety, or attention seeking.  Some dogs are naturally more vocal than others.

Beagles, for example, are notoriously noisy dogs and this is often accompanied by howling. If the dog is very noisy throughout the day, try to monitor the external events which set this off.

Anti-bark collars are not recommended and pose welfare and ethical issues. Indeed, these collars are banned in Wales and it is hoped England will follow suit. In addition, reprimanding, or shouting at a noisy dog, can often be counter-productive.

Such approaches can produce other undesirable behaviours, such as aggression. Citronella spray collars fall into the same category. Always seek advice from a trainer, or behaviourist for positive ways to reduce problem behaviour.

Territorial barking.

excessive dog barkingIt is normal for a dog to alert when strangers, or visitors, come to the home. However, with excessive dog barking, you need to set up a positive association with visitors, neighbours, or passers-by. Always have tasty treats at hand to give to the dog in the presence of visitors.

If your dog barks at neighbours in the garden you could consider asking your neighbour to give the dog treats until the dog associates the appearance of the neighbour with food.

It may also be helpful to remove the stimulus – the thing that makes your dog bark. Alternatively, remove your dog from the stimulus.

If your dog barks at passers he can see through a window, for example, try closing the curtains, or blinds.

Fear Barking.

Dogs commonly bark because they are afraid of something. Fear triggers might be, strangers, fireworks, loud noises, men in hats, etc. Usually, this doesn’t entail excessive dogexcessive dog barking barking unless the dog is constantly exposed to things he, or she, fears.

Techniques used for territorial dogs can often be useful. Thus, the aim is to associate the ‘scary’ thing with something positive, like food.

For dogs who suffer from a fear of fireworks you could try a D.A.P. Diffuser (Dog Appeasing Pheromone).  These devices resemble plug-in air fresheners. Instead, however, they emit a calming pheromone into the environment which is reputed to make the dog feel safe.

There are conflicting views on how well these work, but some owners swear by them and insist they can help alleviate anxious behaviour.


Dogs will often bark due to boredom. This might be due to a lack of exercise, or attention. Consider enrichment toys such as a Kongs or ‘snuffle mats’. As well as physical exercise, dogs thrive on mental stimulation and brain games.

Separation Anxiety.

Dogs are social creatures and, as such, many suffer from separation anxiety when left alone. However, destructive behaviour and excessive dog barking may be simply due to boredom.

Classic separation anxiety is usually associated with panting, pacing, salivating and frantic attempts to escape, in addition to vocalisation.

Try to get your dog used to the idea that, even though you leave, you will always return. Leave the puppy for very short periods, and with something to do – like a stuffed Kong.

For dogs with severe separation anxiety it is recommended the owner seeks guidance from a skilled trainer, or behaviourist.

Techniques may involve introducing a cue which provides the dog with a feeling of ‘safety’, for example. This might be a special toy, or chew, which the dog only has in the owner’s absence.

Attention Seeking. 

Some dogs will bark to attract their owners attention and this can sometimes become a habit. The best response is to ignore the unwanted behaviour, but reward the dog for being quiet. If your dog persistently barks for attention, you will need a lot of patience!

For example, if you ignore the barking for half an hour, but then eventually yell at him out of frustration, next time he will probably bark for an hour. Remember – shouting is still providing the dog with attention. Ignoring unwanted behaviour and rewarding the good, works very well for dogs who crave constant attention.


If you have a noisy dog, the techniques discussed in this article, may help to get you started on rectifying the problem. Remember to try and figure out, just what triggers the excessive dog barking in the first place, as this will have a bearing on the approach you take. The most important thing to remember is not to give up. If you are struggling, get help from an experienced trainer, or behaviourist, who can support you in your aims.