Ack! Stop! No Bark! What to Do When Your Dog Barks for Fun

Beverly Hills MI dog barking for fun

So, you thought you were going to get off easy, didn’t you? Your sweet little puppy, or even your older dog, barely made a peep. Sure maybe a grunt or little growl or an adorable “booff” every now and then, but all in all there was barely a bark to be heard, even when there was a knock at the door. 

But then, all of a sudden, that pesky squirrel started taunting them with a vengeance. Or the dog next door started up a steady regimen of recreational barking (perhaps at the pesky squirrel, even)… or leaves started falling from the sky and rustling in the breeze! And then, out of the blue, your dog found its voice and it was game on.

Now, it seems, your dog is barking at every little thing. Is the ball not throwing itself? WOOF! Has the cat (gasp!) come downstairs unexpectedly? WOOF! Is the food bowl half empty? WOOF! Are those crazy leaves still falling outside? WOOF! And heaven forbid that that squirrel is scampering along the fence still… WOOF! WOOF!

And what’s worse? They’re still not barking when you want them to. What’s an exasperated dog owner to do when it seems like your dog barks for fun?

Don’t Bark Back!

It’s not uncommon, and in fact very understandable, that your first instinct is to scold your dog for barking, often in a voice that is loud enough for your dog to hear over their barking. 

You must resist these urges! 

Ultimately, scolding your dog, especially in a loud voice, will be construed as you barking too. More often than not, your dog will consider your “barking” as encouragement to keep going instead of a command to stop their barking. After all, barking is fun and the falling leaves are very suspicious! Why wouldn’t you join in!

Instead, as difficult as it may be, calmly try to bring your dog’s attention back to you, instead of whatever is inciting their bark-fest. This may be as simple as using your calm and collected words, but you may need to resort to whatever “carrot” your dog will respond to; beit it the appearance of a treat (but not the giving of a treat!) or by gently and kindly guiding them away from the window, cat, or whatever it may be. All the while saying, in a calm voice, No bark, no [kitty, squirrel, leaves, etc].

Once your dog’s attention is on you and the barking has stopped, praise your dog by reinforcing their good behavior with affection and repeating the command you’ve given within that praise; e.g.: Good no bark. Good no [whatever it is] Once you’re confident that the barking is over and that their attention is firmly back to reality, you can kindly praise them again (Good no bark. Good no [whatever])  and then offer up that cookie, if you want to and it’s needed. 

Finally, it’s worth noting that, if you’ve been clicker training your dog, be it in the past or present, be sure to incorporate the clicker into the above .  

Yeah, That’s Nice, But It’s Not Working…

Even if your efforts don’t seem to be making a difference, please remain patient and don’t give up. Stay consistent in your efforts time and time again. Consistency is key when it comes to training your dog to do anything and that is especially true when it comes to training your dog not to bark. 

Even if your dog was properly socialized as a puppy, it’s entirely possible that your dog is barking because they are startled or unsure of what’s happening around them, especially if they are still young or new to your home. 

Take some time, even if you have already, to introduce them to the squirrel (as best you can), to show them the glory of the falling leaves, or remind them that the cat can, and will, do what it wants. 

Likewise, your dog could also be barking because they are bored or have excess energy and want your attention. If you notice that your doggo is woofing up a storm while you’re working from home, try and take them for a walk before you get started and offer them a treat puzzle or “yes chew” to distract them while you work. You may just find that a little proactive planning on your part can curb unwanted barking over time.

Is Your Dog Barking for Fun? Let Us Help!

While it may seem like your dog is barking just for fun, that’s not always the case. Dogs bark for a wide range of reasons from basic communication to protection of their pack. Before you jump to conclusions that your dog is being naughty when they bark, take a moment to listen to what they are saying and why.
If you have questions about your dog’s barking or are struggling to get this behavior under control, please talk to us! Barking can be a primary reason for surrendering pets to the shelter, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates can help you get unwanted barking under control.