Barking can develop into one of the most annoying traits from our dogs. Many dog parents are accustomed to the various types of barking from their pets—dogs bark as greetings, in alarm, socially, and sometimes compulsively. Sometimes barking is an indicator of a happy dog, while other times, it may indicate a distressed or discontent pup.
Any dog family is accustomed to arriving home, being greeted by an excited dog. Sometimes our pups greet us with a woof to simply say, “Hello! I’ve been missing you!” Our dogs communicate without the English language—they communicate in the language of woof. As social animals, dogs struggle with language barriers as would any person operating outside of their fluent languages. This leaves dogs to employ other devices of communication—especially nonverbal communication. Our pups become experts at reading body language; some of their ability is innate while other abilities are learned through conditioning.
There are, however, dogs which take it upon themselves to adopt the fallacy of some English-speaking persons when immersed in another language and culture: speaking more loudly and slowly in an attempt to get their point across. Just like people in foreign cultures with different languages, some dogs will get louder and slower with their barking in an attempt to communicate with their human family, especially when they are not getting the results desired. Taking note of your dog’s patterns of behavior and nonverbal communications can help improve your pup’s drive to bark compulsively.
Imagine if you had to ask someone to use the restroom every hour of every day of your life. If you needed to go very urgently, you might just become loud and irritating in order for you ‘request’ to be acknowledged more quickly. This is analogical to the needs and wants of our pups. By noting patterns and nonverbal behaviors of our canine friends, we can help reduce their need to constantly communicate loudly with us through sound.
When dogs bark in alarm, many times they are attempting to get the attention of their “pack.” Their noise making can be tempered by us responding to the alarm signal dogs are giving—even if it is simply a rabbit or squirrel in our pooch’s territory. Simply giving dogs calming and unalarmed attention during these times can help condition our pups to be less adamant about alarming vocally to anything out of their ordinary.
Sometimes, we can unintentionally encourage our dogs to bark. When dogs get loud, we must fight the temptation to meet their loudness with louder speech. As social animals with a language barrier, our pups can see our loud speech, intended to calm their barking, as encouragement or enjoining in their mission. When it comes to calming dogs’ barking, it is better to fight fire with water, in this case, calm and quiet instead of loudness.
A barking dog is never going to cease their audible communications completely. However, as attentive and observant owners willing to adapt their behaviors to maximize human-canine nonverbal communication, we can help alleviate many of the stimuli which prompt dogs to bark loudly and frequently in undesirable situations.