It’s common for puppies to bark as it’s their way of communication, protection and guarding. Just like we (humans) use our voice to communicate, your puppy utilizes his barking to communicate with you.
However, when the barking gets a bit out of control (barking excessively for almost everything he sees or smells), it would certainly turn out to be a nightmare.
Fortunately, there are WAYS to make your puppy stop this annoying behavior and get back the PEACE in your home.
And YOUR first step will be to find out what’s causing your puppy to keep barking.
Knowing the exact trigger will help you work on eliminating the root cause and make your puppy an obedient pet.
To break a puppy from barking, you would need to work on eliminating his triggers. Common triggers such as over excitement, separation anxiety, feeling bored or hungry, potty needs, illness, poor socialization as well as wrong reinforcement (given by YOU) could cause your puppy to bark inappropriately.
You see, your puppy barks for a certain purpose such as
1. He is feeling hungry.
2. He is not feeling well (especially if you see that his panting for breath)
3. He is overexcited.
4. He needs to go for his potty.
5. He is too bored and wants to seek your attention.
6. Also watch out for any particular times and locations where he starts reacting this way (barking)?
7. Any “special” happening in the environment at the times when he is barking?
8. Have you accidentally reinforced his barking behavior which makes him associate barking with positive experience?
So depending on the reason and situation, it would not be as simple as teaching him to keep quiet without first addressing his concern.
And of course, simply suppressing his barking behavior could potentially result in more severe behavior problems down the road.
So let’s dive into some common reasons that lead to your puppy barking behavior and learn the ways to break this undesirable habit.
He Is Feeling Sense of Anxiety
I would probably list this as the MOST common reason for any puppy barking.
This is especially so for a young puppy who is away from his mother and sibling and is pretty common for him to feel a sense of loss and suffer from separation anxiety.
What you should do is to allocate more time interacting with your puppy to help him build up his confidence and let him get used to his new environment.
I would suggest that you should also start crate training him. Crate training provides many benefits for your puppy and the most obvious one will be your puppy will see the crate as his den once he is crate trained.
You can then have him in his crate when you are not around, and he will less likely be feeling anxiety since he is in a place where he is trained to be familiar with.
You can also leave your old clothing in the crate as well and the scent from the clothing will make your puppy calm down as he will feel that you are just somewhere around him.
Having him in the crate also makes it possible for you to bring him to your bedroom during the night so that he would be able to see you from his crate and that would help to ease his anxiety.
By placing some chewing toys in his crate, you can keep him occupied with the toys whenever he feels lonely while in the crate.
He Is Feeling Bored
Apart from anxiety, he could also be feeling bored and hope to get your attention to play with him.
And the way to address it will be to help him release his pent-up energy and make him tired. Nothing works better than having him engage in physical workouts and mental simulation exercises.
So plan for some daily routine workout for your puppy to keep him less energetic.
There is a saying “A Tired Dog Is A Good Dog” and when your dog is tired, he will less likely be seeking your attention.
Physical games such as tug of war, Frisbee, flirt pole, bubble games and playing hide-and-seek provides excellent outlets for your puppy to drain his excessive energy.
Of course, depending on the age and breed of your puppy, you would have to select games which are of the right intensity level for him.
If your puppy is suffering from any bad joints or injuries that can be aggravated by swift movement, then flirt pole will be out for him. This game requires him to make swift changes of direction and jumping.
I would also strongly recommend that you include some mental simulation games for your puppy as well. Any mental games that utilize brain power can certainly make your puppy mentally tired, and he will be busy catching his sleep after these games and would not bother you.
You can also make use of a KONG toy stuffed with some treats and give it to your puppy for him to figure out how to get the treat out from the toy. This will make him use his brain to think of a solution.
He Is Feeling Hungry
Just like a baby will cry when he is hungry, the same goes for your puppy. He will not cry but will bark instead.
If you find that your puppy keeps barking for his food, it could either be the case that you are underfeeding him or his body is not able to absorb the nutrients from the food (thus he keeps feeling hungry).
If your puppy is very young (less than 3 months old), you would need to feed him 4 times per day. When he reaches the age between 3 – 6 months old, you can reduce to 3 times feeding per day. And once he is more than 6 months old, you would only need to feed him 2 times per day.
As for the amount of food to be given, it depends on his size, age and his activity level. A general guideline will be:
Another possibility will be health issues. Your puppy could be suffering from some medical problems such as bacterial overgrowth in his intestines, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and pancreatic insufficiency.
Bring your puppy to see a vet for a health checkup to determine if there is any health problem with him.
He is Overexcited
Young puppies are always full of energy and easily get excited when facing new things and scent around him.
What you would need to do is to redirect his attention to you and exhibit your calmness energy on him to make him calm down.
Positively reinforce his good behavior whenever he chooses to behave himself by not getting overexcited and focus his attention on you rather than his stimuli.
He Needs To Go Potty
Your puppy will bark for your attention to bring him out for his potty if he is in a crate.
You see, your puppy doesn’t like to pee and poo at the place where he stays. So when he is “trapped” in his crate, he can only bark for your attention when he needs to go potty.
What you can do is to plan for a routine feeding schedule so that you would know when your puppy needs to do his potty.
Typically, for a young puppy who has a small bladder, he would need to eliminate right after each meal, after taking a nap as well as during and after playing.
So make sure that you have settled his potty needs before you put him in his crate.
Things might get a bit tougher during the night as you might need to wake up every 2 hours to bring him out from his crate for his potty till he gets older and able to hold his bladder throughout the night.
You Are Reinforcing His Barking
What you should NEVER do is to reinforce his barking behavior. If you like to perform the following when your dog is barking, STOP doing it immediately.
1. Go to him immediately when you hear him barking.
2. Telling or yelling at him with a verbal clue “Quiet!” hoping that he will stop barking.
3. Touching or looking at him (eye contact) as he is barking.
The above actions will only reinforce your dog’s thinking that barking is the way to get your attention (which you had indeed given him your focus) and he will learn to do that behavior whenever he needs your attention.
You should ONLY wait till the exact moment when he stops barking and then you say “Quiet” to him while rewarding him for his quiet behavior.
The reward can be in the form of treat, praise or petting on his chest or shoulder.
You will have to capture the quiet behavior as soon as your dog offers it and continue to reinforce that behavior with positive experience till he gets the hang of it.
Remember that continuous reinforcement will help your dog to build the behavior that you are hoping for.
The goal is to make your puppy learn that when you give him the command “Quiet”, he should stop his barking immediately.
Keep in mind that unless you have taught your dog how to react when he hears the “Quiet” command, else he would think that you are barking along with him or that barking is what you want.
Lack Of Socialization
Your young puppy is new to his world and everything will look either exciting or scary to him.
Apart from interacting with his mother, he basically had NO experience in how to react to his stimuli except to show his fear or excitement through barking.
What you would need to do is to help your puppy build up his confidence and then slowly expose him to his new world (scent and sight).
The goal is to make him overcome his fear and control his excitement through redirection and reinforcement.
Take for example, your puppy starts to bark and jump on you whenever he sees you at the door steps.
Though this is his way of expressing his excitement on seeing you, you would certainly not want to encourage him on this behavior.
Imagine him barking and jumping on your visitors, that would be rather annoying for them and could cause you much embarrassment.
So it’s important that you teach your dog that when he barks and jumps on you, he is going to lose all your attention for him.
You can turn your back towards him the moment he starts to bark and jump on you and walk away instantly. This will send a clear message to him that you are certainly not happy with his behavior.
Wait till he has calmed down and you can go over to him and reward him for his calmness.
You would want to reinforce his good behavior (being calm) with positive experiences such as getting your love and praise so that he would love to repeat that behavior again.
Remember that all dogs love to please their master so show your dog the way to make you happy, and he will be more than willing to do it.
When your infant is not feeling well, what will he do? He will be crying, hoping to get your attention and address his discomfort.
The same goes for your dog when he is experiencing discomfort. Barking is his way of telling you that he needs your attention and help!
Many dog owners often overlook this potential cause so keep this in mind and do a visual inspection on your puppy to see if there are any visible open wounds or injuries.
Of course, to have peace of mind, you should also bring your puppy for a health checkup as some health aliment is not visible under naked eye.
Now that you have learned more about why your puppy keeps barking, it’s time to find out what is the trigger for your puppy and work on eliminating or reducing the causes to make him do away with his barking behavior.
And if you are keen to know if dogs ever get tired of barking, this post might be of interest to YOU.