Whether it’s a passing mailman, an animal on the television or some movement outside that we humans don’t see — it’s common for dogs to find basically any reason to bark. Some dogs bark more often than others, and if you think your dog is in the “more” category, you’ve probably asked yourself: Do dogs ever get tired of barking?
The answer is yes, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Dogs can get tired of barking, especially when it’s excessive. And while both your pup and you may be exhausted by their barking, you shouldn’t let it continue with no explanation until they call it quits. It’s important to figure out what triggered the barking in case an underlying condition is a cause.
“Barking is a vocalization that dogs make that may be soft or loud and can vary in pitch, tone and frequency,” Dr. McCullough explains. Dogs most commonly bark because of excitement, which could be when they’re alerting you to something, greeting someone or communicating a need.
“Dogs may also bark when bored or because of their natural instinct. For example, hounds and other hunting dogs bark while tracking prey,” she adds.
You can often work out what your dog is trying to say by the sound of their bark. Dr. McCullough says that a dog's bark is commonly lower in tone if they're concerned about something. On the other hand, a bark associated with playing will usually have a louder pitch.
“The frequency of the bark also plays an important role,” she says. “The more frequent the bark, when there is little to no pause in between barks, the more agitated your dog may be. A single bark can indicate surprise or irritation.”
If your dog’s barking is excessive, it could be a sign of an underlying behavioral or medical issue like fear, pain, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction (like dementia) or hearing loss, Dr. McCullough explains. Talk to your veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist to rule out any underlying conditions your pup may have that’s causing constant barking.
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The time a dog (or puppy) spends barking depends on the reason behind the vocalization, their personality and their level of training or socialization, Dr. McCullough shares. “A well-trained, socialized dog is not as likely to bark as often as a dog that isn’t well trained or socialized,” she adds.
Like humans, dogs can lose their voices. Injuries or illnesses that affect their voice box, like a recent surgery, trauma or injury, hypothyroidism, lead poisoning or myasthenia gravis (a disorder where there's a disruption in communication between nerves and muscles) can cause dogs to lose their barks, Dr. McCullough explains.
It's not necessary to stop a dog from barking and usually boils down to your preference (or what your apartment neighbors will tolerate). But, if you train a dog to stop barking (in the way of positive reinforcement), you should start by identifying their triggers.
“The best way to deal with barking is to identify the reason and address it while being careful not to reward the behavior,” Dr. McCullough says. “Wait until the barking stops, address the need and teach alternative behaviors.”
The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.
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