All dogs bark. It doesn’t matter if you have a tiny Yorkshire Terrier or a giant St. Bernard, every dog will bark. However, some dogs bark more than others. Excessive barking can sometimes drive you mad, especially when you don’t know why your dog is barking so much.
Dogs bark for a wide variety of reasons. In my previous article, ‘How to Stop Unwanted Barking In 8 Steps,’ (and episode 106 of the Enlightened By Dogs podcast), I talked about the steps you can take to stop unwanted barking.
In this post, I dive into the four key triggers of unwanted barking. Your dog may fit into one of these categories or you might find that they’ve dipped their paws into more than one (and that’s okay too!).
Each trigger requires a different approach. So, let’s get into it and learn more about the root causes of unwanted barking…and what you can do to stop it (hallelujah!).
Behavior is communication
Before we get into the four triggers of unwanted barking, we must understand how our dogs use their voice to communicate with us.
Behavior is communication. I’ve said this so many times before because I want it to really sink in. When our dog is barking constantly, it’s easy to get so frustrated that we forget that our dog is using their voice to communicate with us.
Before unwanted behavior (such as over the top barking) becomes a habit, it starts with a whisper. Maybe when your dog was a puppy, he barked softly whenever a stranger walked past. You didn’t think anything of it and gradually, over time, those cute puppy barks transformed into big dog barks – and they didn’t stop!
We need to learn to listen to our dog’s whispers before they escalate. I talk about this in-depth on episode 89 of the Enlightened By Dogs podcast, so if you want to learn more about that, you can listen to that episode.
Why traditional dog training isn’t always the answer
Here at Dancing Hearts, we take a different, holistic approach to training. Anyone can train their dog. But very few are willing to take the time and open their heart to truly understand their dog.
I want to help dog moms create a safe, calm, and happy lifestyle with their sensitive, anxious, hyper, or reactive dogs. To do this, you and your dog must learn to understand one another. This means you must realize that you have an incredible influence on your dog’s behavior.
“When we have a partnership based lifestyle, we can influence our dogs when they are barking unnecessarily”
You might not realize it, but your dog is constantly basing their own behavior on yours. If you’re anxious and stressed, your dog probably feels the same way. When you’re happy and excited, your dog is more likely to be bouncing around, wagging their tail, and giving you that big smile you love to see.
This deep level of understanding goes far beyond traditional dog training. Most dog training methods do not address the core needs of your dog or you as a human dog mom. They usually center around treats and award-based transactional training. If you want to develop a real connection with your dog, you’ve got to dive deeper.
Trust does not come from transactions. You didn’t welcome your dog into your life so that you could have a transactional relationship with them, right? You wanted a dog because you wanted a friend, a life partner who would be by your side through thick and thin.
“All relationships are based on trust. Trust does not come from transactions.”
The good news is that you CAN get there. You can have that trusting and loving partnership with your dog, but you won’t get there through transactions. Developing a deep relationship with our dogs is about so much more than that.
What are the four barking triggers?
If your dog tends to bark hysterically at times, it’s a sign that there’s something else going on beneath the surface. Usually, unwanted barking stems from an unresolved need between you and your dog. There may be something missing from your relationship that you both need to work on.
With all that being said, let’s explore the four triggers of unwanted barking…
1. Noisy things
Noisy things, like blenders for example, can set a dog off in an instant. When some dogs hear a loud noise or a repetitively loud noise, it can provoke them to bark.
Thankfully, noisy things are the easiest of the four triggers to solve. If you know your dog will start barking at the blender, switch the blender off. Or, make sure that your dog isn’t around when you’re making your morning smoothie.
You can prepare for noisy triggers quite easily, especially if you can also predict what those noisy triggers will be.
2. Moving things
Does your dog bark at moving cars, the lawnmower, or the sprinkler? If your dog barks at moving things, this can be slightly harder to rectify because it’s difficult to break old habits. Plus, moving things aren’t as predictable as noisy things. You aren’t always in control of the moving trigger, which makes it more difficult to predict and prepare for.
The best way to deal with this trigger is to be present and prepared. Remember that your reactions to certain things (such as moving triggers) can influence your dog’s behavior. So, you need to take responsibility and follow the protocol I laid out in episode 106 of the Enlightened By Dogs podcast. Be prepared and capture those moments with your dog. Being present and prepared is key to breaking this habit.
3. Noisy and moving creatures
Oh, this is the worst, right? You’re out walking your dog, and everything is going great. Then, out of nowhere, a rabbit hops out and your dog loses their mind. Or, a barking dog comes running towards you and your dog reacts the only way that feels natural – by barking back at the intruder.
Preparing for noisy and moving creatures is very difficult because they are totally unpredictable. To deal with this issue, you must tackle the easiest thing first – the noise trigger. Work on being present and prepared when the noisy things happen and then move onto moving things.
Start small and gradually put yourself in a position where you and your dog have a decent foundation with things like barking dogs or purring cats. Then, with that trust and experience behind you, you’ll both be more ready to tackle other noisy and moving creatures that neither of you saw coming.
4. You need an assistant
Sometimes, we need help with our dogs. If your dog is reactive in the car, you need someone to help you out because you can’t do it on your own. You can’t drive the car and at the same time, make sure your dog feels safe, calm, and happy in the back seat.
When things are really difficult to work through alone, that’s when you know you need an assistant. Someone who will help you and your dog in times of stress or anxiety. Your assistant can be a friend or family member, someone who is happy to give you a helping hand when you need it.
Incorporate the Safe, Calm, and Happy Protocols
Whether your dog is barking like crazy, hyper, anxious, sensitive, or reactive, it all goes back to your relationship with your dog. If you want to resolve behavioral issues, you must incorporate the safe, calm, and happy protocols I teach inside the Brilliant Partners Academy.
If you’d like to work with me and learn how to create a partnership lifestyle for you and your dog, you can request an invitation to join us in the Brilliant Partners Academy when the doors open for the next enrolment!
If you’d like to see if the Brilliant Partnership Academy is for you without the commitment, you can grab a copy of our Partnership Starter Kit 2.0, which also includes my Bark Busting Protocol in a lot more detail.
You can listen to everything I talked about in this blog post over on my podcast – Enlightened By Dogs. It’s episode 107, which you can listen to here.
Watch a short video trailer of the episode below: