Dogs communicate with us through barking, whining, howling (and begging!). It's thought they learnt to vocalise more to improve communication with us.
However, unwanted barking can be annoying and disruptive.
In her video below, Vicky Carne The Dog Coach explains how working out why your dog is barking can make finding a solution much easier.
How to stop my dog barking in the garden
This could be caused by boredom or loneliness. Dogs are social animals, and if left alone in the garden for prolonged periods of time can become bored and resort to barking or even howling if lonely.
There may be other reasons why your dog may bark too much. It may be alerting you to people passing by, the neighbours, another dog nearby or even that squirrel in the garden. Barking may be a greeting or a warning.
Ensure your dog has enough mental as well as physical exercise to tire it out, or that it's not left too long on its own.
Alongside that you can begin to teach your dog a cue for 'quiet'. A good starting point contrarily, is to teach a cue to 'bark' or 'speak', which gives you plenty of opportunity to practice 'quiet'.
My dog is barking at night
Nightime barking could be because your dog wants your attention, and is feeling lonely.
If you're sure your dog doesn't need to go out to the toilet, you can start by ignoring the barking.
Ideally, you would begin this with very short stints of leaving your dog alone in its crate or a room during the day.
Experts say before it gets better, the barking will get worse. But if you can persist through this stage, eventually it should settle down. And your dog’s night barking habit should be broken.
It may be an idea to speak to your neighbours before you attempt night training, otherwise they may complain.
Neighbour's dog barking
A neighbour's dog barking can be frustrating, as you have no control over the situation. It can be especially difficult if it happens at night.
The barking can also cause real distress, as your body perceives continuous, high pitched barking as a threat. “Fight or flight” hormones are released, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase.
The feelings experienced are real and are a natural reaction.
Try talking to your neighbour to explain the situation. They may be struggling to control the barking and feel in despair themselves. Or they may not realise their dog is disturbing their neighbours so much.
If talking doesn’t work, you can contact your local council. The Council's Dog Warden can speak with the owner to attempt to resolve the issue.
If this doesn’t work, then legal action can be taken under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
How to stop my dog barking at other dogs
This can make dog walking very unpleasant, so training is really important. It's likely your dog is barking because it wants to get to the other dogs, and is prevented by being on a lead – this is frustration barking. Or it’s defending itself and telling the other dogs to go away.
You can train your dog, by rewarding it before it reacts to other dogs. You can give it a cue and then a treat.
The training will take time, so you’ll need to be patient. If it doesn’t work over time, you should speak to a behavioural expert.
How to stop a dog barking at the window
This behaviour is territorial, with your dog barking at people to tell them to stay away. The behaviour is reinforced as the passerby walks away, with the dog thinking its barking has worked and that it's defended its home.
You can begin to prevent this behaviour by blocking your dog’s view, either by preventing its access to the window or by closing the curtains.
Barking for attention
This happens when your dog is overexcited or bored. If its mealtime, or if you're not giving your dog your full attention.
The behaviour can start in puppyhood when a dog is inadvertently rewarded for barking, by getting your attention. Whether it's a pat, food, play or even a glare, it's all better than no attention.
Try to ignore your dog while it's barking and reward with your attention when it stops.
Dog barking laws UK
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, barking can be seen as a ‘statutory noise nuisance’. Dog owners can end up in court, and be fined up to £5,000 if they do nothing to stop the barking.
Dog barking laws Scotland
In Scotland, a continually barking dog is a noise nuisance. If a complaint is made, the dog's owner should try to find ways to stop the dog from barking.
If the barking still doesn’t stop, the owner can be served with an Order by the District Council, under Section 49 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
This means that the dog owner is forced into taking steps to prevent the barking.