For us humans, screaming and shouting gets exhausting after a while. Your throat hurts, your mouth is dry and you develop a throbbing headache — all that noisemaking consumes a lot of energy!
But when your dog enters his third straight hour of barking at the squirrels in your yard, it can seem like he just isn’t plagued by the same vocal limitations you are.
How can he keep going for so long without getting bored or worn out? Is it even possible for dogs to get tired of barking?
Let’s take a look at the secrets behind your dog’s vocal stamina — and explore a few ways to keep those barking sessions to a more reasonable length.
Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking?
The short answer to the question is not one most dog owners will want to hear: dogs do not typically get tired of barking.
But the long answer is a little more nuanced.
Is Barking Physically Demanding for Dogs?
The simple act of barking isn’t particularly energy intensive for a dog. If he’s simply sitting or standing in place and barking, the energy demands are no greater than if you were sitting or standing in place and talking.
More intense barking involves more movement — tail wagging, pacing, jumping, wiggling, and running. The more physically active a dog is while barking, the sooner he’ll tire out… but that’s the result of the movement, not the barking.
A very intense barking session can be physically strenuous on your dog’s throat. Excessive vocalizing can cause your dog to go hoarse due to a combination of dryness and overexertion of the throat muscles.
Is Barking Psychologically Demanding for Dogs?
But sometimes, dogs will keep barking long past the time they become physically exhausted and start going hoarse.
That’s because barking has a psychological component, too. Some stimulus — or lack thereof — prompts your dog to start barking, and until he gets some resolution, he’s not going to stop.
Because barking is a means to an end for dogs, they probably don’t get tired of the barking itself. Rather, they get frustrated with having their needs or desires unmet, and that frustration often manifests itself in yet more barking.
And while the barking may not be tiring in and of itself, being in a heightened state of stress for extended periods can be mentally and emotionally damaging to your dog. Prolonged stress or anxiety can make your dog skittish or cause him to have trouble sleeping, among other exhausting symptoms.
So when your dog starts barking and won’t stop, don’t think that if you just let him keep going, he’ll tire himself out. Until whatever he’s barking about is resolved, the barking will continue.
So Why Do Dogs Bark, Anyway?
Dogs don’t usually bark for no reason. When they bark, it means they want something from someone — here are some common scenarios, plus some tips on how to handle them.
Dogs Bark Because They’re Afraid
Fear is a powerful motivator for all animals, including dogs. When something frightens your dog, his senses go on high alert and he may exhibit many involuntary behaviors, including barking.
Fearful barking has several purposes. It’s primarily an instinctive behavior intended to warn the other members of your dog’s pack that there’s danger afoot, and to get ready to fight or flee.
Loud, continuous barking is also intended to scare the perceived threat right back. Making a powerful noise may intimidate the intruder enough that it retreats.
Not all dogs bark when they’re afraid, but those that do don’t generally stop until whatever’s scaring them is gone. They won’t get tired — in fact, they won’t be able to relax at all until their fear subsides.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking When He’s Afraid
The obvious solution to fear-based barking is to eliminate the source of your dog’s fear. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done.
During scary situations that you can’t control, such as a thunderstorm or neighboring construction, try to distract your dog with play or affection. Try to keep yourself relaxed, as dogs can smell the stress hormones we produce, which reinforces their own stress.
Do your best to anticipate scary situations and take preventative measures to reduce your dog’s fear. Calming supplements such as CBD, therapeutic weighted vests, and even soothing music can help to keep him relaxed and quiet until the source of the fear is gone.
If your dog seems to react fearfully to ordinary things, or if his fear response seems otherwise excessive, see a vet. Your dog may have an anxiety disorder that can be treated with medication.
Dogs Bark Because They’re Bored
Does your dog ever bark endlessly at nothing? There’s nothing going on around him, no strange sounds or sights or smells — he’s just sitting in the middle of the room, barking to himself for apparently no reason.
Though he doesn’t have the words to say it, there is a reason, an invisible one: he’s bored.
Think of bored barking as your dog’s way of stimulating himself when nothing else is working. The silence and stillness around him is driving him crazy, so he’s letting his energy out through his voice.
Bored barking also serves to grab the attention of anyone nearby. If your dog makes his presence known, you or someone else might come to see him and hopefully relieve his boredom.
As annoying as boredom barking might be, it could be worse: your dog could be channeling his energy into destroying your furniture, breaking out of the house or even hurting himself. Barking, by comparison, is relatively harmless, and it’s definitely not something to punish him for.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking When He’s Bored
Prevention is key here: if your dog doesn’t get bored in the first place, he won’t bark endlessly out of boredom.
Make sure your dog has a variety of toys to play with, and keep them in rotation so he doesn’t get sick of playing with the same ones every day. Interactive play is best: if you can’t be there to play fetch or tug-of-war with him, try an automatic laser pointer or a treat puzzle that adds an external challenge to playtime.
For some dogs, boredom is inevitable if nobody else is around. These dogs may benefit from living with another dog, visits from a dog walker or doggy daycare sessions.
And if you want your dog to stop barking to get your attention, it’s possible to redirect him to a less-disruptive behavior when he’s bored. A dog behaviorist or professional trainer can help you teach your dog to use body language or a special object to let you know when he’s bored.
Dogs Bark Because They’re Being Protective
Dogs of certain breeds, such as German Shepherds and Boxers, can’t help but be protective of their homes and families. It’s literally in their genes, as breeders have been selecting for protectiveness and defensive instincts for hundreds of years.
When these dogs sense that something’s amiss, they’ll do whatever they can to eliminate the threat. These behaviors often resemble fear responses, but fear isn’t the primary motivator; protection is.
Protective dogs know that their best bet at beating the threat is to be big, loud and scary. They’ll tense up their muscles, bare their teeth and bark as noisily as they can until the intruder goes away.
How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking When He’s Feeling Protective
You don’t want to completely eliminate your dog’s protective barking instinct. If there’s ever a break-in or other serious threat, your dog’s incessant barking could make all the difference in your safety.
But when your dog barks to “protect” you from non-threats, like a neighbor walking by or a stray cat across the street, it’s more disruptive than defensive.
Teaching a dog to differentiate between threats and non-threats is not a trivial task, and is best accomplished by a canine behaviorist who’s experienced with guard dog breeds.
However, clicker training can help by redirecting your dog’s attention from the perceived threat to you, before his agitation spikes. When your dog notices the neighbor walking by, use the clicker to get him to focus on you instead, then reward him with treats and praise.
Dogs Bark Because They’re Experiencing Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a common problem with dogs. When they’re left alone, they become distressed and exhibit obsessive behaviors, including constant barking, until they’re not alone anymore.
In this case, your dog’s barking is similar to a baby’s crying. A toddler who wails at daycare is expressing his sadness, fear, and loneliness the only way he knows how to, and until his mother picks him up, those feelings won’t go away.
And until they go away, he’s going to keep crying.
It’s touching to think that your dog loves your company so much, but it’s also unhealthy for your dog to be so fixated on you that he can’t function when you’re not around. And your neighbors probably wish your dog wouldn’t bark continuously while you’re at work all day, too.
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How to Stop Your Dog from Barking Due to Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a medical condition that needs to be treated early. The longer it’s left untreated, the worse the symptoms become — and the harder they become to eliminate.
Giving your dog something special to enjoy while you’re away can help reduce anxiety-related barking. A puzzle toy filled with treats is a good option — put it down right before you leave, then remove it as soon as you return, so your dog associates it with you being gone.
More severe cases of separation anxiety may require medication or a special behavior modification plan. Every dog and every situation is unique, so your best bet is to work with an experienced behaviorist who can tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs.
Remember that excessive barking is a symptom of this condition, not a condition in and of itself. Your dog cannot help his anxious barking, and you can’t treat the barking without treating the anxiety — so be patient, empathetic, and persistent.
Reasons Why Dogs Bark (Explained)(Video)
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret