No matter how much you love your furry friend, a dog that barks excessively can become exhausting. It is particularly stressful if you don’t understand why your dog is barking and so can’t help to make it stop. However, this is simply a case of learning more about your dog and its needs. Just like a crying baby, there are many reasons why your dog might be barking.
Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking?
No, in general, dogs do not get tired of barking.
Barking exists as a natural way for dogs to communicate their feelings and needs. It is used in play, as a response to fear or just to get attention. In the same way that babies don’t get tired of crying and adults don’t get tired of speaking, a dog is unlikely to get tired of barking.
This doesn’t have to be something to worry about! Instead, understanding the reasons why your dog might be barking can be a good first step to helping them quieten down when they are being particularly vocal.
Why do dogs bark?
Before we get to the question of ‘do dogs get tired of barking’, it is helpful to learn a bit more about the reasons dogs bark in the first place. You might be surprised to learn that there are a number of reasons behind it!
Communication: First of all, dogs bark to communicate. This might be happy communication (such as when you return home from work), playful communication (like when your dog meets another dog on the street) or threatening communication (for example, when a stranger enters your home). Barking comes as naturally to dogs as speech does to humans as it is their main way to vocalise their feelings.
Separation anxiety: It is no myth that dogs are man’s best friend! As pack animals, dogs can find it difficult to be separated from their humans, mainly if they’re bored or lacking stimulation (as will be explained in the point below). Separation anxiety typically manifests as distressed howling when you are not at home, although barking is common behaviour too. Desensitizing your dog to you leaving is entirely possible through patience, discipline and training.
Boredom: It is important that dogs are stimulated mentally and physically through walks, playtime, affection and human interaction. If your dog is being under-stimulated and left alone for long periods of time, they might begin to bark excessively simply to entertain themselves. This will likely happen when you are not at home and so is unfortunately the type of barking that you will hear about from a neighbor…
Fear: Some particularly nervous dogs will bark in response to things that alarm them. For these dogs, their natural response to something that startles them may be to bark. This can happen anywhere, not just in their own territory. As with separation anxiety, advice and training can be sought to desensitize your dog to the things that scare them.
Looking for attention: In the same way that a bored dog might bark, a dog seeking attention might become louder than usual. Having already looked at the importance of mentally and physically stimulating your dog, a pooch feeling neglected may start to bark until you pay them attention. If this happens, it is important not to immediately start to pay them attention. This will suggest to them that barking gets them what they want. Instead, wait until your dog goes quiet before rewarding them, teaching your dog that they will get the attention they want once they are quiet!
Guard dog behavior: Dogs want to protect their humans and so will frequently bark if they see a stranger approach their house – or ‘territory’. Normally this barking will stop once your dog sees you engage with the stranger. However, if your dog continues to bark, it might be worth seeking professional advice to teach your dog how to feel comfortable around new people.
Do dogs get tired of barking?
Now that we’ve looked into the reasons why dogs bark, we can return to our original question: do dogs get tired of barking?
The answer remains, no. Dogs do not get tired of barking.
However, now that you’ve learned a little more about why your dog might be barking, you should be in a better position to understand your dog’s needs. Are they looking for attention? Do they want to go on a walk? Is something frightening them?
How long should I let my dog bark for?
Once your dog has started barking, what happens next? In most cases, it is best to let your dog bark it out.
The two most common alternatives to letting a dog bark until they’re finished are:
- Scolding your dog and pulling them away from the thing causing them to bark
- Rescuing your dog from the situation causing them to bark
In a situation where your dog is stressed and is barking as a result of this, these two reactions can be unhelpful. The first one can exacerbate a dog’s stress while the second teaches the dog that they can be removed from scary situations without having to deal with them themselves. This is unhelpful when it comes to teaching your dog to overcome its fears and be confident in their surroundings.
It is important to note that dogs have been known to bark until they lose their voice altogether, showing that they really do not get tired of barking!
Can a dog hurt itself barking?
While barking itself will not hurt your dog, it can certainly lead to hoarseness which is the starting point for further irritations. Just like humans, dogs can become hoarse from overusing their vocal chords. You can tell that your dog is hoarse in a similar way to telling that a human is hoarse:
- Bark sounds raspy, quiet or strained
- Constantly needing to clear throat
You can soothe your dog’s throat much in the way you’d soothe your own: by mixing warm, decaffeinated tea with a little honey. You can even switch to wet food over dry to ensure nothing is irritating your dog’s throat.
However, a hoarse throat can also be a sign of something more serious in your dog, such as:
- Foreign mass in throat
These conditions require a trip to the vet for a medical diagnosis. They can require treatments such as antihistamines, surgery, antibiotics or antiinflammatories.
How do I make my dog stop barking?
Having now answered the question of ‘do dogs get tired of barking’ with a resounding no, we can now turn to how best to stop your dog from barking.
Reward good behavior: Positive reinforcement is a key part of training your dog. This basically means that rather than punishing your dog’s bad behaviour, you reward the things they do well. For example, rather than yelling at your dog when it is barking, a means of positive reinforcement would be to wait until they go quiet and then reward them for their silence. Positive reinforcement training allows you to step away from any reliance on fear tactics. Instead, you are able to focus on praising your dog’s good behavior, leading to a kinder environment and a happier dog.
Remove the stimulus: It is important to begin here by stating that removing the stimulus is not a long-term solution, but instead a means to begin the process of desensitization and put an end to immediate excessive barking. Removing the stimulus is basically a case of taking away the thing that is causing your dog fear or agitation. It can then be reintroduced on a gradual basis, allowing you to work on your dog’s confidence without bringing unnecessary stress.
The ‘quiet’ command: On first appearance, this can seem a counterintuitive method because it involves teaching your dog to bark! However, it is part of a process that allows you to teach a command that immediately silences your pooch.
First of all, you teach the command ‘speak’ to your dog. This involves finding a stimulus that makes your dog bark and introducing it, therefore encouraging your dog to ‘speak’ on demand.
Once your dog has learned to bark in a controlled way, you introduce the ‘quiet’ command. Here, you wait for your dog to bark and then say ‘quiet’. Once the dog has finished barking, you reward them – teaching them that they will be praised for silence.
Mental and physical stimulation: Dogs are smart, energetic creatures and require stimulation to engage them and tire them out. Most people are aware of having to frequently walk their dog for exercise, but sometimes mental stimulation can slip under the radar. Playtime, teaching new tricks and coming up with games to make your dog work for their food are all good ways to keep your dog’s brain active. An active brain prevents boredom and so keeps excessive barking at bay!
Retrain their behavior: Simple obedience training can be one of the most thorough and longest lasting methods to reduce your dog’s barking. It relies upon identifying the trigger for their barking and then utilising positive behavior reinforcement to modify the behavior, teaching your dog not to associate the trigger with barking.
Once the trigger has been identified, the key objective is to slowly and mindfully expose the dog to the trigger. They should be rewarded every time they do not bark. For example, if your dog is triggered by walking past garbage cans, you could begin walking your dog past them from a distance before moving gradually a few meters closer. If your dog barks, the trick is to ignore them and begin all over again. However, if your dog doesn’t bark, you can reward them with a treat. If your dog’s barking is less trigger-based and is instead, for example, a way to get your attention, be sure to only give the attention when they are quiet.
This training approach requires patience and tolerance and, of course, an ability not to grow frustrated and yell at the dog if they start to bark! However, the effort really does pay off through teaching your dog new behavioral habits in a more considered, long-term way.
Should I punish my dog for barking?
Rather than punishing your dog for barking, it is much more useful to focus on positive reinforcement and attention shifting. Yelling at or scolding your dog can heighten anxiety, possibly leading to more erratic behavior such as biting or bolting. It is important also to remember that barking is a dog’s natural way to communicate and so telling them to stop altogether would likely confuse them. It can be more useful to identify the occasions on which the barking is disturbing or destructive and work on changing the dog’s behavior.
What about bark collars?
There is a growing market for ‘quick fix’ tools and gadgets that claim to help train your dog and keep it from barking. These include:
- spray or electric shock collars
- compressed air sprays
- rattle cans
Their aim is to use fear and pain-based tactics to startle or shock a dog while they’re barking, teaching them that barking will lead to bad consequences.
These methods can be extremely harmful to your dog’s training, causing stress and pain which can damage the bond between you and your pet (as well as being generally unpleasant for your dog). At best, the methods offer a short-term solution, teaching your dog not to bark while the device is being used. However, this does not address the reason behind the barking and so cannot be relied upon as a dependable training option.
What have we learned since asking, do dogs get tired of barking?
No, they don’t get tired of barking. However, there are numerous reasons for why your dog might be barking. Growing familiar with them is the first step to stopping your dog from barking so often and achieving a happy household for everyone in it.
- American Kennel Club, ‘Changing Your Dog’s Behavior With Desensitization and Counterconditioning’, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/changing-your-dogs-behavior-with-desensitization-and-counter-conditioning/, Accessed – 7 May 2021
Dogtime, ‘Laryngitis In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments’, https://dogtime.com/dog-health/88823-laryngitis-dogs-symptoms-causes-treatments, Accessed – 7 May 2021