Why is my Dog Barking?
Dogs bark to talk to us and to talk to others in their world
Barking in and of itself is merely a form of communication for a dog. The challenge for a dog is, we humans really don’t want them barking because it’s loud to us, it can annoy nearby people, it can be intimidating or even scary. We humans do not like it when a dog barks. I really want you to understand that barking is not bad. Barking is natural for a dog. What are we humans to do about something that is natural for a dog? Well, we are basically asking him to trust us enough to NOT DO what is natural to him and to rely on us to help guide him through that moment.
It is up to us to show him something other to do than barking at that moment
It is our job to make that something else WORTH IT to him, enough that he is willing to invest his energy toward it. But, before we can figure out what to to do to help him stop barking, we need to ask ourselves, WHY is he barking!?
- Dogs bark when they are happy and excited
- Dogs bark when they are trying to back something away from them
- Dogs can bark when they are hunting
- Dogs bark when something hurts
These are just a few of the reasons why a dog barks. It’s up to you to try and figure out what is motivating your dog to bark.
There are 3 drives a dog is in at any one moment, and you develop strategies based upon what drive he is in. A dog is in prey drive, pack drive or defensive drive at any moment in time.
If your dog barks when the door knocks, or the FedEx guy is coming down the driveway, your dog is in defensive drive. One of our favorite strategies for defensive drive barking is to scatter some treats along the ground near your dog. Once the dog goes for the food, you have enacted prey drive! The dogs start searching for the food and forgets about his defensive posture. And most often, the second he’s done with treats he looks to you! And that’s when you say, “well hello Pack Drive.” Before long, and with many repetitions, your dog will actually look to you the next time the door knocks instead of popping into defensive drive. Make sure to check out our blog on the Pillars of Pack Leadership to learn about the five Pillars that can help with the three drives! CLICK HERE
If your dog is staring at you, whining and barking at you, that is not defensive drive barking. That is most likely pack drive barking run amok! It’s like when my young kids would scream at me, “ mama mama mama, mama” I simply ignored them. It didn’t work for my kids and it doesn’t work for my dogs to get my attention with that kind of demanding mindset. I look for the quiet spot with dogs that are in that mindset and once quiet, that’s when they get my attention. CLICK HERE for Indoor Activities that could help keep your dog busy!
If your dog is barking when they’re chasing balls and going after squirrels, that is prey drive barking. I really like to recall a dog to me when they’re in that state of mind! It snaps them out of prey drive and pops them right into Pack Drive as they come happily to me and they get a really great treat when they choose me instead of that other thing that caught their attention!
Although barking is a natural thing for a dog, it’s helpful if you can help your dog, navigate away from it when it’s necessary, prudent, and practical.