In some countries—some states in US for instance, it is illegal for dogs to bark. As the owner, you are culpable for what’s termed ‘general nuisance or noise ordinance’.
Dogs were free to growl, howl and whine their lungs out all over Kenya until the Nairobi County Government introduced laws in 2016, too.
As a resident in an apartment in the city, you are required to only own a dog if you live in a fenced area—such that when your dog is not on a leash, it does not go outside (read out of your sight).
You are also not allowed to “…keep any dog which barks, yelps, howls or whines for more than six accumulated minutes in an hour or more than three accumulated minutes in half an hour.” The by-law reads.
This means you can’t waltz off and leave your doggo all by himself, barking. By law, you have a responsibility to get him to maintain the required quietude.
There are a few things you need to know to help the situation if your dog is a notorious barker and the first is understanding the reasons as to why dogs bark.
If a loud noise startles him, he will bark. If a stranger approaches his territory, he will bark. If he sees something dangerous or strange e.g. snake, he will bark. If there is commotion, he will bark.
Dogs communicate their fear through barking.
The barking that happens out of fear is hard to control. All you can do is calm and assure your dog that all is well, and probably find out what your dog fears and just try to avoid it.
If he, for instance, cannot stand loud noise or gets nervous in overcrowded places, avoid exposing him to such.
Dogs were meant to live in packs so, it is in their nature to desire company. If your dog stays by himself for too long he will definitely bark. It is a good idea to try making more time to hang out, walk and play with your furry friend. He might cut down on barking.
It might be your house but as far as your doggo is concerned… that’s his territory—um, that’s why he even marks it with erm, pee!
He feels responsible and in control of who gets near or in ‘his territory’. While some dogs warm up to everyone at first sight, some breeds put up their defense first, until they are certain, or assured by you, that the ‘intruder’ means no harm, or is a friend.
If you feel your dog barks at a little too much at your visitors or passersby, you could try calming him, and while at it, avoid yelling or being loud because he could misconstrue that to mean both of you are at it, and even end up barking more.
Note: While covering dog training in one of my articles, I pointed out it’s important to correct a dog while he’s at something because their memory is short.
Plus, you need to be consistent with it. If he barks today and you get him to stop, don’t let him get away with it tomorrow. Remind him again and in the exact same way.
That’s how dogs learn.
There’s a good reason why it was concluded, of all animals (sorry archrivals—cats!) ‘Dog is man’s best friend’.
Dogs are super affectionate, and besides wagging their tails, jumping, licking, and rubbing their coat against those they adore, they bark to greet too.
If your dog barks to greet, teach him to stick to the other forms of greeting.
The right way to do it would be:
- Tell him ‘Speak’ and then after two or three barks…
- Offer him a treat.
When you succeed at getting him to master the greeting routine, he will stick to it.
If your dog barks or howls too much when you are leaving;and also chews, digs or destroys things; escapes from home; paces about; and struggles with coprophagia (eating his faeces), he is probably suffering from separation anxiety.
The barking could be a pointer to this problem.
While it is advisable to seek professional help, you can fix the situation all by yourself too, depending on the extent of your dog’s anxiety.
How to help a dog with separation anxiety:
- Walk your dog.
- Don’t say goodbye right at the time when you are leaving. Sneak out if you have to.
- Stay calm and don’t pay your dog any attention. He might want more of it. Waltz off so it doesn’t hit him you’re leaving.
- Get him used to being separated. Start small if he’s clingy. Don’t just wake up one day and leave him behind for six straight hours. It will be counterproductive.
- Schedule your time together. Making time for your dog and getting your space when you need to leave will get him to learn to enjoy your time together and let you go without a fuss.
While some breeds of dogs will always bark no matter what—like Pomeranian, Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, Maltese, Pekingese, and Chihuahuas, there are dog breeds that are known to be quiet including: Saluki, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Borzoi, and the Golden Retriever.
As long as you understand your dog, it is possible to train him to bark at the right time, for the right reason, and for the acceptable duration.
All the best!