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Without a doubt, few things are more characteristic of dogs than his barking. This particular vocalization that dogs emit occurs in all kinds of daily circumstances and does not attract our attention, as long as they are not excessive barking. But sometimes, and to the surprise of many owners, there are cases in which the dog barks for no apparent reason.
This fact generates both doubts and superstitions in many people. As, ¿do dogs have a sixth sense and bark at paranormal phenomena? ¿Or will there be a more reasonable explanation behind this sudden behavior? If you are curious and you are wondering why is your dog barking at nothing, We invite you to read this AnimalWised article in which we will try to answer these questions.You may also be interested in: Why does my dog bark all night? Index
- Why do the dogs bark?
- My dog barks for no reason, why?
- What to do if your dog barks for no reason? - Recommendations
Why do the dogs bark?
The bark is one of the most common vocalizations in dogs, because to a lesser or greater extent all dogs bark. Each dog also has its own peculiar way of barking, since some breeds, such as the Siberian husky, emit barks very similar to howls and these, for their part, have nothing to do with the barking of a Chihuahua.
This peculiar sound is just characteristic of dogs, because to the surprise of some, adult wolves, as well as other wild canids such as the coyote, cannot bark.
¿What does this mean? All adult canids that live in the wild do not bark, but puppies do, because it is the cry that they emit as an emergency call when they are scared, feel discomfort or when they are hungry..
This means that during the domestication process of the predecessor of the dog (which is also the predecessor of current wolves), dogs were selected and bred that retained attributes of the puppies, a process known as neotenization.
However, not all the barks that dogs vocalize mean the same, since the intention for which they make quick and short barks is very different from that of slow barks with growls in between, for example.
Either way, all the barking they have a common intention, communicate, that is, express your state of mind and intentions. Mainly, the barking of a dog is produced with the following purposes:
- Get attention, be it from the owner, dogs or other animals.
- Alert when they detect someone unknown in their territory.
- Alert when you see an object that is threatening to them (such as a car).
- Warn that it is preparing to defend itself and attack if necessary.
- Indicate that something is bothering you or you feel stressed.
- When he's happy, whether it's playing or when he greets you when you get home.
- Because he feels lonely and wants company.
To learn more about why dogs bark, you can consult our article on ¿Why do the dogs bark? Or watch the video below:
My dog barks for no reason, why?
Dogs are animals that have some senses more developed than ours, like smell or hearing. However, there is no kind of evidence that they have a brain structure that endows them with a "sixth sense " that we do not have, that is, canids have the same senses as we do with regard to the perception of external stimuli: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch; as well as the ability to perceive internal stimuli: the sense of balance, hunger, pain, etc..
There are other more realistic explanations for why a dog can bark, apparently for no reason, which are not related to some kind of "extrasensory" perception. Rather, the most frequent causes that a dog barks at nothing are:
More developed senses
As we have discussed, dogs have some more developed senses than we do. Therefore, it is credible that if a dog barks in a timely manner at nothing, this is due to smelled something or heard a noise that you have not been able to perceive, such as the sound of a siren in the distance or a strange smell in the environment that causes you concern.
Wants to get your attention
This cause is really common and many times owners are not really aware of it. Specifically, some dogs that are bored and frustrated or have a great need for attention from their companions to feel protected (for example, in case of separation anxiety), find that when they bark they get their human guardian to listen to them. And it is through this association of actions that a learning is created in which the furry learns that each time he barks, he will receive the attention he needs..
It is for this reason that some people may have the belief that their dog is barking for no reason, when in reality he is barking because he knows that his owner will listen to him..
You may also be interested in How to prevent my dog from barking when alone.
Not feeling well
The barking, on many occasions, is also a clear indication that the well-being of the dog is not fully covered. You may feel stressed or anxious because you don't go out for enough walks and therefore have a excess energy. It can also be because you feel insecure if you are not with your owner, which triggers separation anxiety.
On the other hand, it should never be ruled out that he barks or howls because he is sick or suffers from some physical pain.
Notice your mood
Dogs also have the ability to perceive emotions of his human friends. This implies that it is able to perceive your joy, sadness, anger…
It is because of this that, if for any reason you are nervous or stressed, it could be that, without realizing it, you are directly or indirectly transmitting your mood, a fact that alters and manifests through barking.
Stereotyped or compulsive behaviors are really alarming, since this kind of behavior has an insidious development that is difficult to detect and, practically, of no solution.
But, ¿what do we mean by stereotypy? These kinds of behaviors are actions that the dog performs continuously and repetitively because they are self-reinforcing, that is, your own brain rewards action by creating a feedback loop, in which the dog barks and "enjoys " doing it. Compulsive barking is characterized by being repetitive, monotonous and the fact that it can be barking constantly for a long time, without an apparent motivation.
These cases occur when the dog lives in a environment very poor or lacking in stimuli. The lack of stimulation, frustration and general discomfort is such that the only way of entertainment that the dog has is to bark, among other compulsive behaviors such as chasing its tail or even injuring itself. An example of these situations are dogs that live in patios without ever going out or tied up all day, situations of clear abuse.
Here we show you 5 other compulsive behaviors in dogs.
Old age and cognitive decline
Lastly, older dogs also suffer from dementia once cognitive decline occurs. It is not surprising then that if your dog is older, he begins to show unusual behaviors, such as barking at nothing.
Here we explain more about Senile Dementia in dogs - Symptoms and treatment.
What to do if your dog barks for no reason? - Recommendations
As you have seen, the fact that your dog barks for no reason is not a red flag. However, if their barking is excessive and you cannot locate the particular item at which they are barking, it is largely because their well-being is apparently not covered. This is why, to detect and correct this problem, we advise you follow the following guidelines:
- Take him to the vet: it is important that you take your dog to the vet to rule out any problem of organic origin, especially if there has been a sudden change in his habitual behavior that could give rise to these barks, as well as other strange behaviors that you have been able to detect.
- Stress and frustrationDogs are social animals that need to interact with other living beings, as well as good physical and mental stimulation. This means that, as an owner, you must ensure that their well-being is covered, carrying out walking routines, allowing them to interact with other dogs and with their environment, play, etc. Otherwise, a dog that lives in an environment poor in stimuli, that does not exercise enough, does not socialize with other dogs, and does not pay enough attention to it, will develop behavioral problems as a result of this discomfort, among which are barking. Therefore, you will have to make sure that you offer your dog the care it needs. In addition, it is recommended that you provide him with a good environmental enrichment to ensure that he does not get bored at home..
- Re-education- Many owners reinforce the fact that their dogs are barking without realizing it. A clear example of this is when, indeed, they pay attention to their dogs only when they bark, talk to them, give a treat, caress, play with them, etc. So the dog sees that in order to be listened to, it must bark. It is for this reason that to redirect this behavior in a positive way, the opposite must be done. Your dog should never see that by barking he can get what he wants, but you should ignore him so as not to reward his barking. Similarly, you should make sure that you pay enough attention to your dog so that it learns to remain calm and that it does not need to demand your attention..
- Be positive and avoid punishmentIf you are nervous, stressed or frustrated that your dog is not behaving the way you would like, he may get upset and bark. Whenever you try to spend time with your dog, you should try to be calm and pleasant to him. In this way, you can spend quality time together that he will associate with you. On the contrary, trying to educate your dog through yelling, intimidation or physical punishment, will only generate a negative experience for your dog, which he will associate with being with you, generating distrust, fear and, ultimately, damaging your bond..
- Ask for help: if you have tried all the above points and your dog continues to bark for no reason and excessively, it is best to go to a specialist in canine ethology, who will be able to advise your case in a personalized way and guide you on how to solve this problem.
You may also be interested in this other list about Tips to prevent my dog from barking.