Why is my dog barking?

Why is my dog barking?
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By Erin Shackelford

Barking is just one of dogs’ many forms of communication. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, and those barks, bays and howls can tell us something. As pet parents, it’s up to us to figure out the cause of the barking and your dog’s motivation for doing it and how avoid it becoming excessive or a nuisance.

What is my dog trying to tell me?

Your dog could be barking because he or she is trying to alert you to or scare off a perceived threat. They could be excited to see you, want your attention or treats, hear other dogs barking or even be trying to tell you they don’t feel good.

Dogs barking alone in a neighbor’s backyard could be trying to tell someone they’ve been left out in weather that is too hot or cold. They may be barking because someone in the home needs help.

Spending some time investigating the reason for your dog’s barking can help identify a solution. One of the common reasons is just plain boredom. Luckily, it’s also the easiest to solve.

Tips to curb barking

Every dog is different, but all dogs need some kind of activity to keep them happy and enriched throughout the day. Dogs who are bored may bark, chew or even become destructive, but there are a variety of activities and exercises that you can offer your pup to help keep them happy and entertained all day long. Please check with your veterinarian to ensure the following activities are safe and healthy for your dog.

• A tired dog is a happy dog. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.

• Interactive toys, puzzles and feeders can help keep your dog entertained when they’re home alone.

• Consider a daytime break. Whether it’s daycare or a midday walk from a dog walker or a friend, these activities can help keep your dog content while you’re away.

Seeking out professional help

Boredom not the issue? Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, but there are just as many ways to train them not to bark from treats to clicker training. Check with a professional dog trainer who practices positive reinforcement techniques on ways to keep your dog from barking excessively.

Handling noisy neighbors

Barking dogs can certainly be a point of contention between neighbors. A polite conversation or kindly worded note can go a long way, especially when it’s solution-oriented and focused on your joint concern for the dog. However, when friendly conversations aren’t working or possible, we urge residents to contact Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s Animal Services team to mitigate pet-related issues. Our trained and dedicated team of Animal Services professionals can respond to these complaints quickly and efficiently. Residents should also be aware of what is allowed and not allowed according to the City of Alexandria’s noise ordinance.

Your local Animal Services should always be the first call to humanely and legally handle pet-related issues, like nuisance complaints, between neighbors. You can contact Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s Animal Services division 24/7 at 703-746-4444.

The writer is marketing and communications specialist at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.