Dogs bark to communicate – and barking is a totally normal part of their behaviour, however excessive barking can also be an indication of anxiety, attention seeking or be a protective display, so how do we tell?
As barking dogs are one of the most common causes of complaints to local councils, I thought it would be useful to explain a bit more about why dogs bark and how I can help you, your dog (and your neighbours) if your dog is barking excessively. In order for me to be able to assess your dog and understand why they may be barking, a veterinary home visit consultation is highly effective as it will allow me to see the dog in its own environment and determine the best management options. Dogs can bark because they’re excited, lonely, anxious or feeling threatened. Frequent barking can occur if a pet is home alone when their owners are out – and this might be because of a combination of several reasons – such as separation anxiety and protecting their home. The dog’s behaviour will be determined by their environment, training, learned behaviours, level of stimulation and any coping mechanisms which occur when the dog is stressed or anxious.
So barking can in fact be an indication of poor canine mental health. When I assess a dog that might be barking a lot, my first step is to determine whether the barking is normal communication, or whether there are any physical issues, or any mental health or behavioural concerns. Sometimes I’ll also provide you with a barking questionnaire which will help me look at an overview of the barking behaviour. I’ll then be able to discuss with you some strategies for managing the barking, which might involve changes to the dogs routine, environment or sometimes the use of medications. Each dog and situation will be different, so I cannot stress enough – that a veterinary home visit consultation gives me the best chance of helping you and your pet – so we can make them, you and the neighbours happy!
Some of our management tools include reducing exposure to situations which trigger barking, use of behavioural medications, and implementation of training techniques. We want to ensure your dog is physically healthy and has adequate mental and physical stimulation. I’ll go through a management plan with you, which will incorporate any environmental management and if needed discuss any medications, along with advice and options for further training if needed. I also have access to reputable dog trainers and veterinary specialists who I can refer you and your pet to if necessary. Other solutions which can sometimes be utilised, include leaving your pet at doggy day-care whilst you’re away at work, or organising dog play dates with friends and family so the dogs have company. Whilst I can’t speak bark, through years of experience treating anxious animals, I’m well prepared to examine and assess your pet to determine why your dog might be barking, and provide management options to keep everyone happy. For consultations and home visits, get in touch with us at the Animal Happiness Vet – Call us on 0434 743 744 today.