What Does It Mean When a Dog Continuously Barks?

by Liza Blau
    You may have to play detective to learn why Fido is constantly barking.

    You may have to play detective to learn why Fido is constantly barking.

    Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

    Barking is your pup's natural way of communicating. Fido's bark lets you know when he's hungry, lonely, wants to go outside, hears an intruder or is happy to see you when you return home. The little guy's ancestors were wild dogs who would bark to defend their territory from other animals and warn each other of impending danger. However, if your pooch continuously barks, it's time to figure out exactly what he's trying to tell you.

    Injury or illness

    Excessive barking may be a sign that your pup is in pain from an injury or illness or is suffering some other form of discomfort. His constant barking may be his way of alerting you to the condition and asking for help. Older dogs may develop a constant bark due to dementia or neurological problems. If your pooch has hearing difficulties, he may be unable to hear his own barks. Take your furry best friend to a vet for a complete physical examination. She'll put him through tests that will rule out any serious medical conditions that could be the cause for his incessant barking.

    Separation Anxiety

    The little yapper may just be letting you know that he misses you when you're gone. Dogs with separation anxiety will often continuously bark when left alone. Fido's barking may start as you prepare to leave and not stop until you return. He may become overly agitated even if you're absent for a short period of time. If you notice the furry guy is following you from room to room in your house, it's probably because he can't stand to be separated from you. Other signs of separation anxiety may include defecating or urinating when you're absent, depression, pacing and destructive behavior.

    Territorial Barking

    You can't blame Fido for trying to guard his turf, after all, doing so is in his blood. Although his constant barking is annoying, your pooch may believe he's simply doing his job of protecting you and your territory from intruders or other perceived dangers. He may bark at the mailman, children walking past your house on their way to school, cars, pedestrians, other dogs or when a friend drops by and rings the doorbell. As a further attempt to scare off the perceived threat, he may adopt an aggressive posture while barking. His incessant barking may not stop until the trigger object is finally out of his sight.

    Considerations

    Never punish your pooch for barking. Yelling at your pooch or angrily ordering him to "shut up" can make his barking worse because he may believe you're barking along with him and see it as a game, according to Kleinbrook Animal Hospital. Even a mild physical punishment may alarm your pooch and cause him to bite. Make sure the pup is getting enough physical exercise and companionship. If you plan on leaving him alone, take him for a walk or run first and make sure he's well-fed. If your vet didn't find a medical reason for the excessive barking, consider hiring a professional dog trainer to train him to stop barking on command.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Liza Blau received a B.A. in English from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in fiction anthologies from Penguin Press, W.W. Norton, NYU Press and others. After healing her own life-threatening asthma by switching to a whole, natural foods diet, she founded the NYC Asthma Wellness Center. Blau counsels individuals on healing their own asthma and allergies with dietary and lifestyle changes.

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