Barking is normal canine behavior. Dogs bark to communicate with their folks and us, but sometimes, it can get out of hands, and you might want to figure out what’s triggering it. What makes it even more complicated is when you see your dog barking at nothing perceptible. You might wonder: “Why my dog is barking at nothing?”
Let’s get you some answers.
Why My Dog Is Barking at Nothing?
If your dog seems to be barking at nothing, it’s not because he’s seeing something supernatural or going crazy. Dogs have better hearing and olfactory senses than humans. They can hear sounds in the ultrasonic range (40,000 – 60,000Hz) and smell up to 100,000 times more accurately than we can. This, at times, can cause dogs to bark at smells or the frequency of sounds human senses cannot detect.
Animal behaviorists categorize the reasons for excessive dog barking as follows:
Dogs are social animals, and because they cannot talk directly to us, they bark. If they want something from you or if they are just in the mood for some pampering, they’ll look you in the eye and bark.
It is believed that a dog figures out when his human parent is about to arrive home from the amount of his or her scent remaining in the house. A happy, upbeat bark is pretty obvious when he sees his owner or wags his tail near the entrance door. After all, his favorite person and best friend is just around the corner.
Furthermore, your pup may be compelled to bark when it’s time for an activity he loves to indulge in, such as playing fetch, going for a walk, or a swim.
Like most other animals, territorial displays are natural and inborn in dogs. A dog can sense the presence of other animals before we can. It can be another dog, a passerby cat, or even a squeaky mouse. Some dogs may be very possessive, in addition to being territorial, which can cause them to be pretty aggressive in the proximity of other pets. In short, they do not fancy or welcome strangers traversing their domain.
Guarding and Protecting
Dogs are instinctually protective and guarding. They have an inherent instinct to defend and safeguard their family. You might be annoyed by your dog barking at nothing, but it may be something they deem unwanted intruders or a potential danger to you. Your pup may also run to your side, trying to pass this urgent information on to you.
Separation Anxiety and Boredom
Dogs are pack animals and thrive on human companionship. If you work for extended hours and cannot give your best friend enough time for playful and social activities, he will be bored and develop separation anxiety.
Additionally, your dog will not be getting enough mental and physical stimulation, which can drive him towards excessive relentless barking. Some might also move back and forth and in circles.
The sound of thunder, noise at a nearby construction site, or the buzzing of a helicopter may not catch our attention—but our dogs are unable to distinguish between different sounds. Any new sound can be daunting to them and cause them to bark.
Our pups cannot tell us when they’re being hurt or going through pain. The only way they know how to let us know what they experience is by barking. Dogs suffering from canine dementia may be seen pacing around the house and barking at nothing. Therefore, it is critical to take your pet for routine vet appointments.
Now that we know some of the common reasons why dogs bark at nothing, let’s learn how to limit them.
How To Stop a Dog From Barking At Nothing?
A few years back, people relied on dogs’ barking to alert them about any potential danger. But now, it’s not considered less than a nuisance. Your neighbors and friends might be complaining and visiting you less often because of your pup’s incessant barking.
Here are few things you may incorporate in your dog care routine to minimize their relentless barking.
Give Your Dog Time
Socialize and give quality playtime to your dog. It is known that a tired dog is a quiet dog. If you’re interacting and keeping your dog busy by taking him out for walks and runs, it’s likely that he won’t be fussy when it’s your time to rest. This will offer them more mental and physical stimulation. Providing them with toys can also engage them in playful activities when you’re not home.
Manage Their Territorial Behavior
If your dog is possessive about his territory and cannot tolerate the presence of other animals, it’s better to keep him indoors most of the time. Also, to block his view, cover the windows with curtains and blinds, and use a wooden fence in the backyard instead of the one with a chain, to limit his barking.
To discourage your dogs’ continuous barking when he wants something or when he sees new people is by ignoring it. Fulfilling his wish will only motivate him to bark more. After he stops barking, only then provide him what he needs.
Calm Your Dog
Also, never yell or scold your dog when he barks excessively. This will only cause negative reinforcement. Instead, use words like ‘hush’, ‘quiet’ and then reward him with treats and affectionate praises for his silence. Training him may be time-consuming, but being consistent will make it worthwhile.
At times, white noises can be a lifesaver. Playing relaxing music will mask all the other background sounds and will relax your dog from all the never-ending barking. Also, a pheromone diffuser will help calm your canine friends’ nerves.
How To Stop Dog Barking in Crate?
If you’re planning to keep your pup in a crate, you should be in for some difficult few days in the beginning.
However, it’s not without a solution. Before putting your dog in the crate, make sure he has been fed properly and then relieved himself. Also, the crate should be of the right size, cozy, and welcoming for him. You can consider putting an old unlaundered sweatshirt you have used for soothing your pup due to the familiar scent.
Another easy fix that works for some dogs is to cover the crate with a towel or a crate cloth at night to stop him from being stimulated by the outside environment. This will provide a secure and quiet home for him.
Occasionally, some pups become stressed by crate training and show signs like drooling, shaking, and hurting themselves while trying to escape. In such cases, discontinue using the crate immediately and consult your vet, a dog behaviorist, or trainer.
Other ways to stop your dog from barking are already discussed above.
Dog Barking Devices
There are plenty of devices available in the market used for stopping dogs from excessive barking. So, let’s dive right into it.
Shock collars are a controversial method to deter your dog’s unwanted barking. It uses electric stimulation between two points on the collar to shock your dog when he barks. This is an aversive training technique, which means that the dog will not like the feeling and will stop barking to stop the shock. Shock collars are considered inhumane by many, and we in no way are suggesting their use to you.
A better and humane alternative to shock collars is no-shock collars.
Citronella Bark Collar
This collar is a sort of fusion between a diffuser and a shock collar. This too is triggered by the vibrations of a dog’s barking. It then emits a citronella substance that deters your pup’s barking—and is also pet-safe.
Ultrasonic Bark Control
Ultrasonic bark controls work like a charm and are considered quite safe. This device emits a high pitch tone whenever your dog barks to distract him and make him stop barking. Since a dog’s hearing is superior to a human’s, this sound will only be heard by your dog. Over time, he will learn to associate his barking with this unpleasant sound and will eventually stop his purposeless barking.
We have gone through most of why a dog may be barking and how to stop it. Ultimately, only a pet owner and a professional pet behaviorist or vet can know and decide the best methods for their furry friend.