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Published: Nov 01, 2011

Barking is one of the most common traits in dogs and one of the most common complaints owners have about their pets. Barking tends to serve as a territorial warning sign to other animals or a way for a dog to vocalize its despair over being separated from its family, and in some cases barking is a response to any new sounds, sights or odors.

VCA Animal Hospitals reports that this act typically comes when a dog is feeling anxious, indecisive or frustrated about a situation. For dogs that bark excessively for what seems to be no reason at all it may be more psychological than protective. According to VCA, a lack of proper socialization with people and other dogs as a puppy can be the culprit of excessive barking. If a dog isn't exposed to a wide range of experiences, it will often show its fear or unease of the unknown through barking.

Some dogs bark as a way to get attention. Unknowing pet owners often try to quiet their dogs but are actually reinforcing the barking behavior by giving in to their dogs’ demands. For example, a dog who is barking may be let indoors or given a treat or toy to play in hopes of quieting them down. Barking should never be rewarded with attention or the problem will escalate and become unmanageable.

To combat barking problems that stem from separation anxiety, VCA suggests starting crate training as a way to give a dog a safe place to relax when it's left alone. Progressively leaving it alone for longer periods of time may also stop the behavior. To do this, owners will need to set up a scheduled daily routine that dogs can look forward to. Setting this daily predictability, like having breakfast, a morning walk, going outside, going to the crate and coming home, may allow the dog to relax because it will know what's to come each day.