What is considered excessive dog barking?
That, of course, depends on who you ask!
Your vet, your neighbor, and even your local lawmakers all have different opinions on how much is too much.
Read on to find out the answers!
You may also like: How to get your neighbor’s dog to stop barking
What is considered excessive dog barking?
To figure out what is considered excessive dog barking, we first need to understand why dogs bark. Then, figure out what we consider “normal” barking behavior.
Why do dogs bark?
Asking why dogs bark is like asking why people talk. It’s their way of communicating! Dogs bark to:
- Warn us about danger (real or perceived)
- Communicate with other dogs (remember that scene in 101 Dalmatians where they sent a message along a “bark chain”?)
- Tell us that they’re bored and need some attention.
- Let us know that they’re scared.
- Tell us that something just isn’t quite right.
Basically, for all the same reasons you use your own voice! The act of barking is 100% natural. However, just how much is considered normal? Let’s discuss.
Just how much barking is normal?
That answer depends entirely on your dog’s breed. Some breeds tend to bark at everything that moves while others rarely utter a peep.
Basically, you need to figure out what’s normal for YOUR dog. The easiest way to do this is by searching “Do [your dog’s breed] bark a lot?”
I can tell you the answer as far as Pharaoh Hounds go. Yes. Yep. Absolutely. Oh boy, do they ever!
That’s her below, mid-bark. She looks vicious, right? I assure you, she’s far from it! She’s just a loud-mouth!
It’s “normal” for her to bark incessantly and relentlessly at anything that she deems “prey.” Which is pretty much anything that moves.
Ask her vet or other Pharaoh Hound owners if this is considered “excessive,” and they’ll say no. Ask my neighbors and they’ll disagree.
So, while her barking is normal for her breed, we bring her in when it gets too excessive for my neighbors’ comfort.
Now, let’s find out exactly what is considered excessive dog barking, shall we?
When does normal become excessive dog barking?
Like I said way back in the beginning, the answer really depends on who you ask.
To find out, we’ll turn to three different people: vets, our neighbors, and the law.
What do vets consider excessive dog barking?
For that answer, I turned to PetMD. I know that the “MD” sites aren’t always the most reliable, but this post was vetted by, well, a vet, so I feel confident in relying on it.
Here’s what they had to say on the subject:
“Excessive vocalization refers to uncontrollable, excessive dog barking, whining or crying, often occurring at inappropriate times of the night or day,.”
The author goes on to explain that excessive barking usually has a reason. Fear or anxiety. Pain. Hearing loss. Cognitive dysfunction. Lack of behavioral training.
In other words, if your normally quiet dog starts howling at the moon all night, taking him to the vet should be your first step.
Once he’s given the “all clear,” then you need to take a good hard look at your own training strategies.
Now that we know what vets consider to be excessive dog barking, let’s ask our neighbors.
What do neighbors consider excessive?
I’ve always been lucky enough to have fairly tolerant neighbors, with the exception of one, who has since moved away (not because of my dog, I promise).
Most of the people in my neighborhood have dogs of their own, so they know that barking is normal.
If you live in an apartment building or a neighborhood with dog-intolerant people, though, they’ll have different opinions.
In those cases, excessive is considered:
- Barking late at night.
- Barking that lasts more than a minute or so.
- Frequent barking (even if each “session” only lasts a few seconds).
Here’s a bit of advice- make nice with your neighbors BEFORE they complain.
Introduce yourself and your pooch,tell them that you both want to be good neighbors, then ask them to let you know if your dog’s barking bothers them.
Unless you have really grumpy neighbors, they’ll appreciate the respectful gesture and will be less likely to make the cops or your landlord their first call if your dog barks too much.
Last, we’ll talk about what the law considers “excessive dog barking.”
What do lawmakers consider excessive barking?
While a handful of states have some legislation regarding nuisance barking (Massachusetts is one), for the most part you’ll need to turn to your local ordinances.
Laws vary significantly from place to place but many consider barking excessive if/when:
- Your dog barks for 30 minutes straight.
- He barks more than a combined total of one hour in a 24-hour period.
- The barking occurs during “quiet hours,” typically after 10 PM and before 7 AM.
In areas that don’t have specific dog barking laws, other ordinances may be used against you.
For example, if your town has those aforementioned “quiet hours,” law enforcement can fine you for breaking them.
Other states have fantastic laws against leaving your dog outside in the cold too long. So, your neighbor could turn you in for that instead if the barking happens in the winter months while Fido is outdoors.
So, if you want to make sure your dog’s barking isn’t breaking the law, you need to look beyond dog-centric regulations. Look up local noise, nuisance, and “disturbing the peace” ordinances.
What if my dog is an excessive barker?
So, you’ve read over all the tips for figuring out how much barking is too much. Now, you realize that your dog IS an excessive barker.
What next? Here are some tips to follow (along with links to guides that will help). Start at the top and work your way down.
Tips to stop excessive dog barking:
- Call your vet and get him checked out.
- Learn how to teach your dog the quiet command. The video will show you how.
- Try counter-conditioning training (works best for anxiety barking).
- Put up barriers – like a fence- so your dog can’t easily see his “trigger.”
- Get expert help by enrolling in dog training classes.
- Consider a humane anti-bark device to help reinforce commands.
- Move out to the middle of nowhere (Kidding! Sort of…)
Here’s what I DON’T recommend:
- Shock collars (they’re so cruel, several places have outright banned them)
- Punishment-based training (it doesn’t work, and besides, should you be punished for talking too much?)
- Yelling at your dog to shut up (he just thinks you’re barking along with him).
- Surgically cutting his vocal chords (yep, people actually do that)
Excessive dog barking means something different to everyone. We all have different tolerances, after all. The big question is, what do YOU consider excessive?