Why Do Dogs Bark, and When Is It Too Much?

“My dog won’t stop barking!” “My dog barks at everything!” If this sounds like you, it might be time to pay closer attention to your dog’s barking habits and what’s making them sound off.

Like it or not, dogs have very few ways to communicate vocally, and that means you’re bound to hear barking from time to time. Of course, there’s a normal level of barking, and then there’s a real barking problem. Let’s dive into the many reasons why dogs bark and what to do if it gets to be too much.

Reasons Why Dogs Bark

Like a lot of creatures, humans included, dogs use their barks to express emotion. Excitement is a big one for dogs—when they bark at you, they could be playing with you, greeting you as you come home, or eager to go outside when they see you reaching for their leash. A wagging tail and happy demeanor are good indicators of excitement as well.

Maybe your dog wants something from you, like attention or food, and they bark to communicate this. In these cases, your dog’s barking will be a little more relaxed, but still persistent until they get what they want.

Still want to know “Why can’t I keep my dog from barking?” They might just be bored! When your dog isn’t physically or mentally stimulated, they will always let you know. You can usually tell by their playful demeanor if they want to do something with you. Sometimes, they will even bring you a toy or their leash as a hint!

If something or someone unusual enters the scene, your dog might bark out of fear or become territorial. You can tell if they’re upset from their body language—they might seem tense, have their tail between their legs, or have raised hair.

Just as a human cries out when they’re hurt, your dog’s barking could be a sign they’re in pain. Roughhousing, being attacked by another animal, or being touched in a sensitive area are potential reasons for painful yelps. If your dog responds poorly to normal touch, take them to a vet to see what’s wrong.

Lastly, barking can be due to old age or dementia. You might see your dog barking at nothing at odd hours of the day. This is another good reason to check in with a vet.

How Much Barking Is Too Much Barking?

Your dog might bark for any of the reasons above without it being indicative of a major issue, but if they keep going and going and you can never tell why, something needs to be done. Excessive barking is more than just an annoyance—it could have big consequences for you and your dog. Upsetting your neighbors at all is bad enough, but it’s not unheard of for people to call the police or submit formal complaints about noisy dogs.

Barking problems aren’t fun for your pet, either. They can damage their own vocal cords with uncontrollable barking or even cause themselves mental anguish that will only make the noise issue worse.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Barking?

Whether your dog’s barking is a bit of a nuisance or a borderline emergency, there are plenty of methods, toys, devices, and professionals that can change their behavior. Whatever approach you choose, make sure you put real, consistent effort into it for a decent amount of time until it’s clear you need to try something new.