How to avoid constant dog barking

Barking comes naturally to dogs, but the constant barking or whining of a dog can be disturbing or annoying for neighbours. Often the problem occurs when the dog’s owner is out of the house, so the owner doesn’t know until someone complains.

It is reasonable to expect, and it is not against the law for a dog to bark. However, if the disturbance is substantial enough to be classed as a Statutory Nuisance then it is likely that a Noise Abatement Notice will be served on the dog’s owner requiring them to stop the nuisance. It is a criminal offence not to comply with such a notice and the council may prosecute and you could be faced with a fine up to £5,000, plus costs.

Why dogs bark

Dogs are not by nature solitary animals; they need the security of a family group. Pet dogs regard their owners as a substitute family and can soon become distressed when left alone.

There are many reasons why your dog may bark:

  • loneliness
  • boredom or frustration
  • attention seeking
  • defending his territory
  • medical problems
  • local bitch or bitches are in season or on heat

The importance of training

Training is important so that your dog does not bark at anything that moves. A well trained dog should be able to tell between people allowed into the house and people who are intruders. Good training combined with affection and companionship should mean that your dog will not develop bad habits. Start young and start as you mean to go on.

Some simple things to try

  1. Some dogs just don’t want you to go out. Get your dog used to the idea that you are away for different periods of time at different times of the day. Don’t make a fuss of your dog when you leave him.
  2. Try leaving your dog alone in another room – at first for just a few minutes then gradually build up on the time. Do not return to your dog until he is quiet for a period. When you return praise him.
  3. Try leaving your dog so that he cannot see outside. Some dogs will bark because they want to join in what’s going on outside.
  4. Some dogs will settle only if they can hear a human voice. Leaving a radio on at a low volume might help; try tuning into a talk radio station.
  5. Try not to leave your dog alone for long periods of time. If you have to, make sure there is someone who can look in during that time.

If leaving your dog alone is unavoidable you may wish to consider the following suggestions:

  • feed and exercise your dog before you go out
  • leave your dog some fresh water
  • make sure your dog’s bed or basket is comfortable
  • leave its favourite toy
  • check that the room is not hot or too cold
  • make sure there is adequate ventilation
  • leave a light on if you aren’t coming back until after dark

But nothing I do works

Old dogs can be taught new tricks. There are lots of things you can do to prevent it from barking. You could go to your vet. Sometimes a dog will bark because they are ill – anxiety is often the cause of barking. You can ask your vet to refer your dog to an animal behaviourist who is an expert and can suggest ways to improve your dog’s behaviour.

Some other points

If you do keep your dog outside, think carefully about where you put its kennel and where it can run. Try not to put the kennel near your neighbours’ fence or where your dog will be tempted to bark.

Don’t blame the dog and think that you will solve everything by replacing it with another. It probably will not, unless you change your lifestyle at the same time.

Getting a second dog for company might help. But think about this carefully. Do you have the space, and can you afford a second dog? Another dog could result in more, not less, problems.

Last reviewed: November 20, 2023 by Qi

Next review due: May 20, 2024

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