Why is my dog barking… again?!

by Jim Harrington

Morning.  Noon.  Night.  Joggers.  Trucks.  Air.  None of it makes sense, yet it usually makes perfect sense.  Our dogs often communicate their fears, their wants, and their needs by barking.  Over time, they train us to understand why they bark.  But sometimes… really???!!!

I’ve had a dog in my home since I took my first steps as a baby back in the late 60′s.  It’s remarkable how a dog can sometimes vary the pitch and pace of their bark depending on a situation.  If they’re warding off an evil squirrel (actually, I think squirrels are cool!) their bark can be quite rapid and forceful.  If it’s time for suppy or a treat our favorite pooch might serenade us with a slow-rolling low-fidelity howl.  When it’s time to go potty, well, they can be pretty good at conveying a sense of urgency for that too…

But, the most interesting barking pattern comes from what I’ll call ‘dynamic nothingness’ (a/k/a compulsive barking).  Our trusty companion is hanging out or taking a nap.  He’s been fed.  He’s already been outside ten times.  He’s been pet and played with.  Then – out of nowhere – it’s time for a barking marathon.  Looking around, we don’t see Mrs. Jogger outside.  Our favorite woodland creatures aren’t taunting Jake from the deck outside.  I don’t even hear the goofy dog down the street looking to harmonize…

Ugh!!!

Is my dog turning into one of those COMPULSIVE BARKERS???  Maybe.  If you’re pretty certain you’ve ruled out the usual causes, and you’ve noticed a bit of a pattern, it might be worth bringing the issue up at your next visit with the veterinarian – if your supply of Advil can sustain you that long…

Compulsive barking is often accompanied by repetitive movement patterns, such as pacing back and forth in a consistently defined manner.  The compulsiveness is most prevalent in hunting and working breeds, but it can occur in any breed.  If your veterinarian rules out medical causes you have three primary options…  Use a behavior modification specialist; utilize medication for your pooch; or invest in ear plugs…

Some folks would advocate a fourth option – anti-bark collars – but I’m not a fan.  Rather than something invasive, it’s never a bad call to consistently scheduling time for yourself and your best friend to go for some nice walks, or commit to petting him more and watching some shows on Animal Planet together.  It might not solve the compulsive barking issue, but at least you’ll both get some peaceful and relaxing time together out of the deal…  :-)

Woof!

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