There are few things that can drive you crazier than a dog that will not stop barking. Regardless of whether it’s a deep woof or loud yapping, we all know the anger and stress a dog’s non-stop barking will cause.
But the good news is that barking is not something your dog needs to do to be happy. It’s actually a sign that your dog is feeling anxious, stressed, overstimulated, or frustrated — none of which are good emotions for them (or you!).
I can’t stress this enough: a relaxed and content dog will not bark!
So, let’s go ahead and look at one very common and specific type of barking… and how to stop it!
Barking when you’re not home
It’s very common for a dog to bark when their owner is gone and usually you will not realize you have a problem until one of your neighbors — or worse, an animal control officer — decides to pay you a visit.
Understanding what’s causing your dog to bark while you’re gone is an absolute must so that you can stop the problem at its cause rather than just treating the symptoms.
Try thinking of it like this: Your dog is a pack animal and naturally understands that there are leaders and there are followers. One of the pack leader‘s biggest and most important jobs is to protect their pack.
When morning comes and it’s time for everyone to leave for school or work they become very stressed. And why wouldn’t they? After all, they have lost their pack!
Which is exactly the reason they are barking. They have lost their pack and are calling out for you to come back. They are just trying to do their job by responding in the only way that makes sense to them.
Imagine this scenario
You have a 4-year-old child. Your job is to make sure that your child is safe. So you keep an eye on them to make sure they stay out of trouble — all the time. When they are safe and you know where they are, you are relaxed.
But if they were to suddenly head out the door on their own, shutting and locking the door behind them, what would you do? Chase after them!
But now I’d like you to imagine that the door is locked and there is no way for you to chase them. All your other options won’t work either, because all other doors and windows are locked as well. How frightening!
Now, what do you do? Phone for help! That’s great, but your dog does not have that choice!
“Well, then I’ll shout for help!” Of course! And that’s exactly what your dog is doing.
If your 4-year-old child was wondering the streets alone, you certainly wouldn’t take a nap or relax with a drink, and neither will your dog when they feel you are lost.
And all these other annoying behaviors I hear from people about their dogs — they chew, they destroy things, they jump the fence when you leave — are other reactions dogs have when they are desperate for you to be home and safe.
Remember, your dog can’t speak English (I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you), so they can’t tell you any of this!
So, how do I fix this then? Well, that leads us to…
“What’s the solution for my dog?”
Well, for starters I can tell you that it’s not as simple as giving them a bone to chew on while you’re away.
“Oh, your child’s gone? Here, have some cookies!” Wouldn’t work, would it? Of course not! Yeah, you may love cookies but you certainly aren’t going to be calmed by them in a scary situation.
Other distractions like toys with food stuffed inside won’t stop the cause of your problem either. They only treat the symptoms, so you’ll be lucky if they stop your dog’s barking for more than a half hour or so.
I bet many of you already realize the toys don’t work because you’ve already tried them.
The solution is actually very, very easy: You must become your dog’s pack leader.
Once you have done this, your dog will no longer see it as their duty to protect you. You will be able to come and go as you please, with your dog remaining perfectly calm the whole time.
That is the real solution to having a happy, relaxed dog. There are no tricks, just a need for an understanding between you and your dog.
Becoming your dog’s pack leader isn’t tough and anyone can do it. That being said, it’s not something you can learn just by spending a couple of minutes reading this article.
If you take a look at this video series, the trainer does an excellent job of explaining how to establish yourself as the pack leader and how to stop your dog from barking when you are gone.
Here are some more tips that you can use alongside the video series on becoming your dog’s pack leader:
- Exercise – Make sure you give your dog some exercise before you will be leaving. A tired dog is more likely to stay relaxed.
- Find the right spot – Test out leaving your dog in different areas of the home. Some dogs will be calmer outside, while others will prefer inside or even in a small, closed-off space like the laundry room.
- Fed and watered – Always leave water out and make sure that your dog is both warm and fed before leaving.
- No bones – Leave some toys for your dog but pick up any bones before leaving.
- Music and TV – Many dogs benefit from the distraction of a quiet TV or music being left on.
- Herbal remedies – Some of these can be helpful (though also costly). The main problem here is that you’re just treating the symptoms rather than the cause of the issue.
- Dog walkers – Having someone to come walk your dog during the day helps many dogs.
- Leave calmly – Don’t give your dog a big, excited goodbye before heading out. Say goodbye 5 minutes before you’re leaving, then exit in a quiet, calm manner.
- Comfort jackets – I’ve seen these become much more popular in recent years. They do work, but only a small amount and they tend to be very expensive. I’ve even heard of one dog that ate it!
One thing I’ve seen lots of people try (that won’t work) is getting another dog. Remember: your dog’s problem is not caused by boredom! After all, many of the dogs who bark non-stop when their owner is gone are also the same dogs that lay around doing nothing (happily) all weekend.
Hopefully, this has given you a better understanding of what is causing your dog’s barking problem and how to deal with it. The tips I gave above will help to a point, but I really recommend using them alongside the video series from Doggy Dan’s site. He’s actually got a whole section on just barking.
Become your dog’s pack leader and that will be the end of your problem. Once you see things through your dog’s eyes you’ll get that they aren’t looking for their bone or a toy, they want you to be a strong pack leader!