Expert Q&A

My dog has started to bark incessantly. Why is he doing this?

Dogs bark for a number of reasons. They could be alerting you or others to some perceived threat, such as an approaching strange animal or person. They could just be in a playful, excited mood, vocalizing similarly to how children sometimes shout or squeal while playing. A startled canine is also more likely to bark. More than likely, however, especially since the overt barking just started with your dog, he is feeling lonely, bored and/or anxious. Often these emotions -- and the related barking -- arise with a problem known as separation anxiety. Your dog feels alone and is probably missing you. Avoid approaching your barking pet, even out of annoyance, since any attention may be encouraging the behavior. Providing a good, stimulating environment for your canine, with plenty of toys, walks and care, can help to ease the situation overall. You might also have to train your dog to be quiet by using a command, such as the familiar, "No!" when he barks. When he silences, award him with a treat. Animal trainers and behaviorists can often help when the problem gets too out of hand. Ask your veterinarian and groomer for recommendations.

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