How to Stop a Dog from Barking When Left Alone
Separation anxiety is perhaps the most common reason why your dog barks when he’s left alone. Some dogs with severe separation anxiety towards one person may even bark excessively when their main “person” is out of the house even if other family members are around. It’s endearing for our dogs to love us this much, but it can also be a pain. Nuisance dog barking can raise complaints, and it can be tough to bear over time.
The best method to stop a dog from barking when left alone is to identify the cause. Once you have pinpointed the reason for the barking, the rest of the training will come easier.
Is Your Dog Reactive?
A reactive dog is one that’s more likely to bark. The term describes a dog that overreacts to everyday situations and experiences. Whether it’s to people, other dogs, sounds, or activities, this type of dog often barks aggressively in response. Your dog’s behavior could be deemed as protective or aggressive on the surface when in reality he is just a more reactive dog.
A reactive dog is often more nervous, excitable, or fearful, so it’s important to get to the root of the cause to help mitigate the issue.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
There are many reasons why a dog barks, and it can be summed up in one word – communication. A dog bark is how canines communicate their feelings, much like our version of talking. This may be triggered by external stimuli or your dog’s own emotions. Below are some of the most common reasons why a dog barks.
Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are first on the list because all dogs experience both emotions at some time in their lives. Some dogs are more anxious than others due to their circumstances and sometimes it even comes down to the breed. How your dog was raised will also contribute to how much he barks out of fear and anxiety.
Socialization as a puppy is the key to limiting barking. However, this can’t be helped if you adopt a rescue. Some rescue pups have gone through very traumatic experiences and may have lost all trust in humanity. In this case, it will take a lot of patience, time, and consistent training in order to coax the dog out of his shell.
Introducing your puppy from a young age to new things, experiences, animals, and people will allow him to understand the world and not overreact to triggers. Fear and separation anxiety dog barking is usually accompanied by whines.
Some dogs can be territorial animals and it’s just within their nature. Certain breeds such as German Shepherds make excellent guard dogs for this reason. You can choose to take advantage of a dog’s natural behavior, but it could grow out of control if the dog isn’t taught how to differentiate between a friend and a threat.
It could even get to a point where your dog barks at other dogs and people that simply pass by your property. Not everything is a threat, and it can be difficult to get your dog to understand this without the help of a professional dog trainer.
Many male dogs are more territorial and aggressive before neutering. You will notice that the dog barking decreases in frequency after the procedure is done. Many dogs become more docile after neutering and spaying.
Some dogs are natural barkers and are more vocal than others. For example, the Siberian Husky and small breed dogs like to voice their opinions more. Understand if your dog’s behavior is just contributed to his genetics. If so, there isn’t too much you can do about it but hope to reduce it with some training and socialization.
Boredom or attention barking is also a very common reason why dogs bark, especially when they’re left alone. You could hear howling, whistling, whining or very commanding and short barks, all of which are asking for your attention. It’s said that more intelligent breeds such as Border Collies, Huskies, and Retrievers are more easily bored, which leads to more vocalization.
There are many things dog parents can do to curb the boredom and to keep their fur babies stimulated, which we will cover down below.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking at Other Dogs?
Your dog could be barking at other dogs due to excitement or defensiveness. Some dogs just want to play with the new friend they see across the street, while others are upset that the dog is impeding on their personal space. Sometimes dogs can develop aggression towards other dogs after an unpleasant experience. The first step is to identify why your dog is barking at other dogs.
If it’s due to excitement, try to help your pooch calm down before you walk over to say hi to the other pup. If your dog is wary of the other dog, maybe keep a tight leash while he inspects the other dog. Working with a certified applied animal behaviorist will help you work out why your dog is barking at other dogs. The expert will then offer a course of action to take to replace the traumatic experience with new and positive ones to rectify the behavior.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking at Night?
Barking at night is perhaps the most common concern raised by pet parents. Our readers should also know that it is a near-inevitable occurrence with bringing a new dog home. Most dog parents crate train at night, and this is something we do strongly advise. Crate training will help limit potty messes and instill discipline. You can also use it to train your dog not to bark by only rewarding positive behavior and ignoring negative ones.
If you’re sure your dog has already gone to the bathroom and has eaten dinner, then the dog barking at night is most likely due to boredom, severe or mild separation anxiety, or fear of a new environment. This type of barking should be ignored. You can try moving your dog’s crate into your bedroom so he has a clear line of sight of where you are at night. Some pet parents also say placing your fingers in the crate to reassure the dog of your presence has worked miracles.
Nighttime barking is usually temporary and with proper and consistent crate training, it shouldn’t last more than a few weeks to a month.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking at People?
It can be disconcerting having a dog that barks at people constantly. It is possible to train a dog to stop barking at everyone but this will not happen quickly. It’s important to decide how much training you want to do, be patient, and be consistent with your training techniques. How do I keep my dog quiet when I have to bark at me? If yes it can get sloppy. There are several reasons behind dogs barking and there are also good excuses to be patient with them.
Dogs bark at people for many of the same reasons they bark at dogs. It could be excitement or fear and stem from past traumatic experiences. If a dog has had a negative association with someone with long brown hair in the past, then it is very likely that the dog will react aggressively or fearfully towards anyone with that trait.
It will take a lot of time, patience, reassociation training, and love to teach a rescue dog how to trust humans again. If your dog is often barking at your friends or you, then there is a good chance he is just overly excited by seeing you again and wants to say hi and play. This type of barking is easier to prevent and train out of your dog. Never reward the excitable behavior and only respond to your dog when he is calm.
How Do I Treat Excessive Barking?
Excessive barking covers various types of barking, so the best way is to pinpoint which type of barking your dog is exhibiting to treat the problem.
Train your furry friend not to bark by practicing together
Training your dog to be quiet when you leave the house will require patience and consistency. When your dog is quiet, reinforce this positive behavior by handing him his favorite treat. This can be practiced during everyday life whenever your dog barks to stimulation. Through repetition, your dog will begin to understand that good thing comes when he’s quiet.
When you leave the house is when your dog’s separation anxiety will be on full display. It will take multiple tries to calm him down and many training sessions. This is because your dog will be so frantic at the sight of you leaving that he will not be able to calm down and listen to your commands. You have to be patient during this period and take advantage of the small windows of silence to reward your pooch.
A dog with separation anxiety is also one that is more likely to be destructive, so we suggest crating or at least monitoring these dogs when you leave the house. You can do so with a pet camera and there are even ones available that can toss out treats whenever your dog is being good.
Give your dog some sounds to make the house less lonely
Sometimes being in a quiet environment can set off your dog’s separation anxiety. This is especially true if your fur baby is used to a bustling household. You can solve this problem by simulating an environment the dog is used to. Play some music, leave the TV on, talk to your dog often through the pet camera, there are many ways to alleviate separation anxiety by making the house seem less lonely.
If your dog has a buddy, such as a dog walker or another pet in the house he can interact with, then he will have a companion and also feel less alone.
Take your fur baby to a trainer
For the more inexperienced pet owners and ones who just don’t know where to start, taking the dog to a trainer can be very effective. The professional will diagnose the reason behind your dog’s barking and create a clear-cut plan of action to treat the problem. It’s important to keep up with the training at home as well and be consistent. It’s very easy to confuse your fur baby when you’re using the word “no” along with other keywords to tell him the same thing.
Having a trainer will also help with separation anxiety when you leave the house because they will know exactly what sets your fur baby off and what he needs to calm down. These trainers should also have enough experience to tailor training methods to your needs.
Give your dog a special treat
We stress the importance of positive reinforcement and positive association training. A dog’s treats come in different tiers – regular and high value. The high-value treats are the ones that are only rewarded when your dog performs exceptionally or for when you’re in a pinch or want to administer aggressive training. In the case of curing separation anxiety, the high-value treat won’t solve the problem but it works well to treat the symptoms.
For example, a high-value treat could be a bully stick or yak cheese, just something your dog doesn’t see often. Over time, your dog may be very eager to have you leave the house because he gets such a valuable treat in return. The treat will also distract your dog and keep him occupied while you’re out.
Take your dog to the vet
Your dog barking endlessly when you’re not home could also be due to a health issue. Dogs have a very high pain threshold, and they tend to keep their ailments to themselves. However, when you leave the house, it could trigger your dog’s separation anxiety and fear, causing him to react.
If your dog is barking due to some kind of pain or illness, you will most likely notice other symptoms such as whining, a change in appetite, a decrease in energy and even wincing when touched in certain areas. If you notice your dog won’t let you touch him on a specific part of his body, then that is where the pain is.
If this sounds like your dog or if he is exhibiting anything else out of character, take your pooch to the vet right away just to rule out any health issues.
Send your pup to doggy daycare
How do you stop your dog from barking when you leave? Send him to daycare! This is what many dog parents do when they have to leave for long hours. Leaving your pooch in doggy daycare is a great way for him to socialize with others of his kind. He will learn how to be with other dogs and become more independent of you.
Once your dog understands how fun doggy daycare can be and mommy and daddy will always come back for him, the separation anxiety at home should also decrease a bit. The trick is to teach your dog independence so, in time, he may be less anxious and scared when you’re not at home.
Give your fur baby lots of attention and exercise when you’re home
One of the most recommended and most common remedies for separation anxiety is stimulation. Why does a dog bark? Most of the time it’s because the dog isn’t stimulated. Dogs need mental and physical exercise. If they have enough stimulation, the dog is more likely to behave well.
Depending on the age of your dog and the breed, we would say take your dog on a 20 minute to an hour-long walk before you leave the house. You can give them mental stimulation by fitting in a quick training session before leaving the house or giving them a puzzle or a treat-stuffed toy. Not only will the treat occupy him once you’re gone, but because he got rid of his excess energy, he will be less likely to bark when you leave. Instead, your dog may just find a quiet place to rest until you get back.
Learn to leave quietly
If you make a big deal of leaving the house, your dog will learn to observe the signs of when you might be leaving and get anxious even before you put your shoes on. Learn to be lowkey when you’re leaving and try to desensitize your dog to the signs of leaving.
For example, we always grab our bags and keys when leaving the house. Pet parents should try to grab their keys and bags more often throughout the day just so your dog will no longer view it as a sign that you’re heading out. Try to work in changing outfits while you’re home and just heading out to the backyard and coming right back. All of these actions will eventually put your dog at ease even when you do head out for the day.
Take care of any stimuli
Dogs work under the logic of “out of sight, out of mind”. If you realize that your dog is barking when you leave the house because he sees you from the window, then draw the curtains before you leave. You want to limit your dog’s access to triggers that could initiate his nuisance barking.
Maybe it’s the sound of the car starting up that triggers your dog. if so, remember to close all the windows to block out some of the sounds. Try to limit your dog’s exposure to anything you know will set him off.
Give your dog an activity
Keep your dog occupied. A distracted dog will not notice you leaving the house. As said before, high-value treats can prove to be indispensable in this case as will puzzle toys and stuffed Kongs. Make sure that what you are giving your dog is safe to play with without your supervision.
The last resort is to use bark deterrents. Bark deterrents include bark collars, ones that emit a sound, vibration, or scent that puts your dog off when he barks. The ultrasonic bark collars are the ones that produce a high-pitched sound only audible to dogs that will annoy your pooch when he barks to make him stop. Vibration collars will vibrate at different levels depending on your settings to halt your dog’s barking.
Citronella collars produce a scent that most dogs do not like. In order to avoid sniffing something potent and unpleasant, your dog will learn not to bark. Keep in mind that dogs are unique creatures with different personalities. There are dogs out there that genuinely do not mind the scent, sounds, or vibrations and others are so determined that they power through it.
You can use a softer approach and opt for calming oils, weighted blankets, and ticker toys that could also help relax your dog.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get my dog to stop barking when left alone?
You can get your dog to stop barking when left alone by identifying why he’s barking in order to treat the problem. Most of the time, an “out of sight, out of mind” approach will work along with distractions such as treats and toys. Remember that physical and mental stimulation are also key contributors to a barking dog in your absence.
Do dogs grow out of barking when left alone?
Not usually. A dog’s barking stems from his emotions, which most of the time is separation anxiety when you’re gone. Some dogs may eventually learn that barking when you leave does not make you come back and stop and other times they will bark until they tire themselves out. However, there are others that require training in order to stop.
How do I train my dog not to bark when I leave?
The best way to train a dog not to bark when you leave is by doing it slowly and gradually. Leave for a few seconds out the door and only come back to reward your dog for being quiet. Do not come back if he is frantically barking. Only return when he is quiet. Be patient because this method will take some time and consistency to yield results.
Will my dog eventually stop barking when I leave?
Generally, no. This is because dog barking when you leave stems from separation anxiety, which doesn’t cure itself. However, some dogs do eventually understand that the crying doesn’t work and they tire themselves out. Most of the time, it will take training to get your dog to eventually stop barking when you leave.
Your dog barking when you leave the house can really tug at your heartstrings. It’s important not to give in to the dog’s barking and toss them a treat when they’re frantically crying. If you don’t time it right, it could reinforce your dog’s bad behavior. As troublesome as anxiety barking can be, rest assured that it is something you can train out of your dog with patience, consistency, and love.