Why do dogs bark?

Barking, whining and yelping are your dog’s way of communicating. Much like a crying infant, your puppy could be saying: “I need to wee”, “I want dinner” or “give me attention”. While most puppies will naturally begin making noises from an early age, some dogs and breeds may spend their lives in relative silence.

Serena Dean, Veterinary Behaviour and Training Manager for Greencross Vets, says that barking is normal dog behaviour. “Barking is one of the ways dogs communicate,” she says. “Although it is a normal behaviour, when it’s carried out to excess or at inappropriate times and places, it becomes frustrating and socially unacceptable. Before attempting to solve your dogs barking problem we need to identify the reason why they are barking.”

When do puppies start barking?

Your puppy won’t find their voice right away. They will start with a few whines and grunts when its eyes and ears open up, usually at around two weeks old. It won’t be until about the seven-week mark that they come out with yips and barks: right around the time you’re welcoming them into your home.

Puppies often learn to bark from other dogs. They might mimic an older dog that barks when the doorbell rings, or the neighbour’s dog that goes off when cars drive past. As your puppy grows, its territorial instincts are likely to manifest in barking to let you know about visitors or intruders.

Why is my puppy barking?

There are a number of reasons your dog may bark apart from obvious triggers like a strange cat in the yard or people walking past. Your puppy could be bored, they might not be getting enough exercise or maybe they’re scared of loud noises.

“Dogs and puppies may bark for many reasons, some of which include: fear and anxiety, boredom, limited physical activity, noises from nearby dogs and people walking past the property,” says Serena, who also highlights that there could be medical reasons for the barking, such as deafness, pain or discomfort. If you have any concerns about your dog’s healthy, don’t hesitate to take them to your nearest Greencross Vets for a checkup.

How can I stop my puppy from barking?

The best way to stop your puppy from barking is to pinpoint the cause of the barking and act accordingly.

They’re bored and want attention

In such cases you need to ensure that your puppy has a good balance of interactive time with you, as well as independent play time. Provide your puppy with a wide range of toys which you should rotate daily so they don’t get bored of them. By keeping them mentally engaged with fun challenges like rubber chew toys with treats inside, they will soon be too preoccupied to constantly bark.

They’re frightened or anxious

For scared puppies, it is worth taking the time to desensitise them to whatever is triggering their fear, whether this be thunderstorms or your hair dryer. However if your attempts to familiarise your puppy with these items or experiences are not working, you can stop your puppy from barking by restricting their access to areas where they typically bark or placing a visual barrier between the puppy and anything that causes them to bark. If your dog is regularly displaying symptoms of anxiety, you should take them in for a behavioural consultation at your local Greencross Vets.