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All dogs bark – there’s no question about that. However, if you don’t live in an isolated house out in the countryside, the constant barking can be a big problem and might even make your neighbors nervous and drive them mad.
So, how do you get a dog to stop barking when left alone? First, we should realize why dogs bark in the first place.
Why Do Dogs Bark?
Usually, dogs don’t bark just for the sake of it. There is always a specific trigger that makes them bark, and triggers can be varied.
What situations cause your dog to bark? Is it the doorbell? The mailman? Dogs passing by? Leaves? Squirrels? Guests? The thing that causes your dog to bark is called a trigger.
So, if your dog is barking too much, and has maybe even changed behavior lately, the first thing you need to do is to figure out why are they barking so much. However, it is not simple all the time, and you can’t just bring your dog to a vet and ask them to cure the dog from barking. The trigger for barking needs to be found.
There are a few reasons why your dog might bark when left alone. Usually, it’s either boredom, separation anxiety, or even both of them.
Most dogs are used to spending time with their owners, or they just need to know that the owner is nearby. However, dog owners will have to deal with their pet’s separation anxiety at some point in their lives.
Every dog is different, but some dogs just can’t stand being separated from their owners, even for a short amount of time; some dogs will start barking even if the owner is in another room.
If you ever noticed that your dog barks when you leave home, it is how the dog tries to communicate with you and tell you to come back. If a dog still barks when you are out of sight, they will probably continue to bark until you get back home. It can take time to train your dog not to bark while you’re away.
As already mentioned, some dogs bark just out of boredom. Although dogs separated from wolves around 40,000 years ago, they are still pack-animals which is the reason they form strong bonds with other dogs and humans. It is not in their DNA to live alone.
Whether they want to play, sleep, or do anything else, they usually don’t want to do that alone. They need somebody who can interact with them and keep them entertained. If dogs are bored, they can quickly switch to destructive behavior, such as barking, chewing, and whining.
How to Stop Dog Barking When Left Alone
Boredom and separation anxiety are the top two reasons why dogs bark when left alone. Let’s see how we can fix that.
1. Reduce Their Anxiety
It is always better to prevent something bad than to deal with it after it happens. The same applies to your dog barking when you are not at home. Boredom and anxiety can lead to destructive behavior and temporary aggression, so it would be pretty dangerous if your neighbor comes into your home while you are not there. There are a few ways to prevent that.
Exercise is good for the mental health of humans, but it affects dogs the same way, too. It makes a person less nervous. If a dog is tired, they usually won’t waste their remaining energy on endless barking.
You should take a long walk, or even a jog with your dog before you leave home. That way, your pet will be exhausted, but also less nervous. Their energy level will drop, and instead of barking, they will usually lay on the ground and fall asleep. This is one of the best and healthiest ways to prevent your dog from barking when left alone.
3. Food and Water
You should make sure that there is always enough food and water when you leave home. If a dog gets thirsty or hungry, he will start barking to alert you that it needs something. If you are not at home, he might just keep barking until you come back and satisfy their needs. Therefore, you should always have food and water that your dog can access when you leave home.
RELATED: The Top 7 Best Automatic Dog Feeders
4. Comfort Blanket
Most dogs, when separated from their owners, will feel an intense emotional pain or separation anxiety. However, it is beneficial to give your dog an old shoe to chew on and an old blanket in which they will feel comfy. Although it sounds like it might have no special effect on your dog, it might actually greatly reduce their barking when you are not at home.
Having a shoe to chew will keep the dog entertained for some time, and laying on a comfortable, old blanket will make them less nervous, especially as your scent will be on the items. It is definitely something that you should try out the next time you plan to leave home without your pet.
If your dog is barking because of boredom, the best solution is to keep them entertained. Indestructible toys for dogs can be the best solution to preventing boredom, and can even keep your dog entertained for hours. Toys that are safe to chew will completely occupy their minds.
There are also some great interactive dog toys on the market that offer you an option to hide treats within them. That way, your dog will smell the treat, but won’t be able to reach it right away. Instead, it will have to chew and bite until it reaches the treat, and it is an excellent way to make your dog forget that you even left the house.
These toys are usually pretty affordable and can be found in almost every pet shop, or any pet store online.
6. CBD-Infused Dog Treats for Anxiety
CBD dog treats have become very popular in the past couple of years, as they have a significant impact on reducing your dog’s anxiety. These treats are completely natural, and most dog owners who give them to their dogs state that they are amazingly useful.
Before these treats were invented, traditional anti-anxiety medications were prescribed by vets. However, CBD treats are great because they soothe your dog’s nervousness by triggering specific receptors in their endocannabinoid system. It works well because when these receptors are triggered, a dog’s body automatically starts to produce serotonin in increased amounts.
In case you don’t know, serotonin is a hormone that is responsible for mood regulation, and is also known as the “happy hormone.” Although CBD treats are not yet completely accepted by all medical professionals, many vets are prescribing them as there is already significant evidence of their positive effect on a dog’s mood.
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Calming Treats for Dogs
Why Not Just Punish Your Dog for Barking?
The thing is, it’s actually a lot easier to train your dog to do something than it is to teach your dog not to do something. That’s especially true with something as deeply instinctive as barking.
For most dogs, their barking is more similar to your gasp of surprise or yelp of fear than it is to your highly controlled speech. It’s hard to use punishment to get rid of a behavior that’s that reflexive and deeply ingrained.
Many dogs bark because they’re startled, scared, upset, or excited. Punishing them in that moment only adds stress to the situation. It doesn’t teach your dog how to react to his emotions in a different way.
Some dogs aren’t barking because they’re scared, but rather because they want something.
Also, in some cases, dogs will channel that nervous energy, fear, or frustration in other ways when they learn not to bark. Dogs have been known to destroy couches or bite their owners – because they don’t know what to do instead of barking.
Final Thoughts on Stopping Dog Barking While Away
There are various reasons why dogs bark, but when they are left alone, there are just two primary triggers for their barking. They will either feel separation anxiety or just be bored … or both of these.
Although the term “separation anxiety” can sound scary to some people, it is actually what most dogs will feel when you leave home. Pets are used to living in a pack and can feel anxious when left on their own. When you leave home, the dog has no idea when, and whether will you ever come back.
Dogs are also used to always being entertained, and usually can’t entertain themselves on their own. They thrive on constant interaction, whether it’s a human or another dog.
However, there are various things that you can do to help prevent your dog from barking when you leave home.
Exercise your dog, provide him with enough water and food, and put chewable toys and a comfortable blanket out when you’re away. If those fail and your dog continues barking, consider CBD treats or professional help.