By Helen Withey FBIPDT

Barking is one type of communication that dogs use, and it can mean different things depending on the time and the situation.

Below are some reasons why your dog might bark.

Reasons for barking

Territorial barking When a person or an animal comes into an area which your dog considers to be his territory it can trigger excessive barking. As the threat gets closer, the barking often gets louder. Your dog will look alert and even sometimes aggressive during this type of barking.

Fear barking Some dogs bark at any noise or object that catches their attention or startles them. This can happen anywhere, not just in their home territory and is quite common with the Stabyhoun.

You should never expect a dog not to bark it is a natural thing for them to do, but some dogs bark excessively. If that’s a problem in your home, the first step is working out what causes your dog to bark too much. Once you know why he is barking, you can start to treat the problem.

Loneliness Dogs are pack animals. Dogs left alone for long periods of time, whether in the house or in the garden, can become bored and start barking for something to do.

Over Excited or Greeting Dogs often bark when greeting people or other animals. It’s usually a happy bark, accompanied with tail wags and often jumping up. Although with the Stabyhoun sometimes standing back and inquisitive barking.

Attention Seeking: Dogs often bark when they want something, such as going outside, playing, or getting a treat or a fuss.

Compulsive Barking: Dogs with separation anxiety often bark excessively when left alone. They also usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructiveness and house soiling, Compulsive barkers seem to just bark to hear the sound of their own voices.

How to Treat Nuisance Barking

Getting your dog to bark less will take time and consistency. It won’t happen overnight, but with proper techniques and time, you will see progress.

Here are a few things to remember as you start to take control your dog’s barking.

Shouting at your dog to stop barking will not work as he just thinks you’re joining in. So the first thing to remember is to speak calmly and firmly, but don’t yell.

Most dogs don’t know what you want when you’re shouting at them to “shut up.” So train your dog to understand the word “Quiet!”

Here is a way that you can do this…

When your dog is barking, say “Quiet” in a calm, firm voice. Wait until he stops barking, even if it’s just for a moment, then praise him and give him a treat. Just be careful to never reward him while he’s barking. Eventually he will work out that if he stops barking at the word “quiet” he gets a treat and make it a treat, that he wouldn’t normally, something special such as cheese or chicken, to make it worth more than the barking.

Many people recommend that you should teach your dog to speak on command so that you can then teach them to be quiet. Invariably this does not work as the dog fathoms out that if it barks at you you will then say “quiet” and they are rewarded. So inevitably this can make the problem worse.

Practice your command when he’s calm, and in time he should learn to stop barking at your command.  A tired dog is a quiet dog. If your dog barks when alone, exercise him out before you go. Take him for a long walk or engage him in a game in the garden before leaving. Also do not give your dog any attention for 15 minuets prior to your departure.

Don’t allow problems to go on. The longer a dog does something, the more it becomes a learnt behaviour. Barking can give dogs an adrenaline rush, which makes the barking enjoyable for them. And allowing a dog to bark in certain situations, such as when the postman comes or when visitors arrive can be very self rewarding for them.  Deal with barking problems as quickly as possible.

Remember to always try to work out why your dog is barking then it will be easier to cure this. Once you know why your dog is barking, you can start working on ways to decrease his annoying habit. Some reasons why dogs bark are listed below:

Territorial Barking Because this type of barking is often motivated by fear or a perceived threat to their territory or people, it can be lessened by limiting what your dog sees. If your dog can see out of windows or doors at the front of the house and barks at people walking past then try and restrict him from those areas unless you are with him.

Boredom/Loneliness: If your dog barks excessively while you’re gone, you need to provide more activities or companionship to keep him from being lonely or bored. Do not leave your dog for long periods of time, the Stabyhoun love company and do not like to be left alone for long periods. When you do leave your dog leave him with something to do such as chew on a nice meaty bone or stuff a Kong with something tasty for him.

If you have to go out for a long time arrange for someone to come in and either give him a walk or play with him in the garden for an hour or so.

Greeting/Play: To stop your dog from getting over excited and barking when visitors arrive put him on a lead before opening the door to guests and then give him something positive to do such as sit when guests come in. You will be able to make this happen with the lead on and reward the good behaviour. Do not let him off the lead until he is calm and then ask your guests to ignore him if he gets excited. Only reward good calm behaviour. Another way is to train your dog to go to a spot and stay there when the door opens. It’s best if they can see the door, but not be too close to it. Pick a spot and practice getting your dog to go there and stay, but don’t touch the door yet. Use lots of treats and praise, making it a game. Once your dog is doing this reliably, start opening the door while he’s in his spot. Once you can open the door and your dog will stay in his spot, have someone actually come in the door. Of course your dog will break from the spot at first, but with time and practice, he’ll learn to stay in his spot when the door opens and guests come in.

Never reward your dog for barking at you when you come home. Do not fuss him or even make eye contact until your dog stops barking and sits quietly. Then acknowledge him and praise him.

Attention seeking: If your dog barks at you for attention then do not even look at him look at the ceiling instead and walk away or turn your back on him. If he barks to go outside, it’s the same.  Find ways for your dog to communicate without barking. Remember do not tell your dog off. For a dog it is considered to be attention. The key is to ignore your dog and what he wants, until he stops barking.

Separation Anxiety/Compulsive Barking Separation anxiety and compulsive barking are both difficult to treat and should be handled with the help of a qualified behaviourist or a certified applied animal behaviourist. Dogs with these problems may sometime need drug therapy to help them cope while learning new, more acceptable behaviours.

Bark Collars. Should you use one?

There are a number of products on the market that promise to stop barking quickly. Collars that go on your dog can deliver audible or ultrasonic corrections to your dog, but they aren’t effective on all dogs. Citronella-spraying collars often work, but some dogs learn they can run them out of spray and then bark at will.

Shock collars should NEVER be used as they deliver a painful shock to the dog, cause harm and may make dogs aggressive, especially if they associate the person or animal they are barking at with the pain.

What not to do:

Don’t encourage your dog to bark at some noises (a door slamming, people walking by) and discourage him from barking at others. Be consistent.

Never use a muzzle or other means of constraint to keep a dog quiet.

Do not take advice from other people unless they are qualified to give that advice.

Do not use harsh methods, kind is more effective.


Any behaviour modification will take time and patience and depending how long a problem has been going on for depends how long it will take to modify. As a basic rule though it normally takes approximately 3 months to establish a new behaviour. Remember to keep training sessions short and positive always rewarding good behaviour and being totally consistent with what method you are using. All members of the household need to be on-board with the training program as any inconsistency will make training slower or in affective.