Dogs bark. That’s just a fact of life. Some bark more than others though, and not all of that barking is directed at the mailman or squirrels. Barking has many reasons and causes – my dog barks at cats and pigeons, and (less often) as a frustrated greeting when he’s on the leash, for example. And it makes you wonder, do dogs get tired of barking? The answer is ‘sometimes but not always’. Barking uses a lot of energy, but dogs have a lot of energy. If they have an unhealthy relationship with barking, then they can even keep it up past the point of being tired anyway. If you’ve got a problem with a dog who barks a lot, we’ll take a look at the changes you can make so that they have less interest in making a noise.
- Do dogs get tired of barking?
- 7 reasons dogs bark
- Which dog breeds bark the most?
- Do dogs get tired of barking if you ignore them?
- How to stop your dog barking excessively
Do Dogs Get Tired Of Barking?
Barking is a physical exertion that takes up a lot of energy from dogs. This is especially true when the dog doesn’t normally bark so often. If something or someone triggers a fit of barking that is out of the ordinary, this can tire a dog out. Sooner or later, they’ll be forced to take a break, and more often than not they will even lie down and take a nap. But whether that will happen depends on the cause of the barking. If the dog is trying to get your attention and you keep ignoring them, the barking could go on for a long while.
The same goes for an intruder getting the dog’s attention and triggering their territorial instincts. As long as the intruder is in the dog’s line of sight, the barking will continue. For dogs who bark as a displacement activity for feelings of anxiety or frustration at being left at home all day, then barking can turn into an ingrained habit which is hard to break, and continues even when they are exhausted from it. So it’s recommended to investigate what’s going on and bring the matter to a quick resolution. For the dog’s mental health and your own peace of mind, find out the cause of the racket and help quieten down your canine friend.
7 Reasons Dogs Bark
Occasional barking is no cause for concern. It’s fun to look for patterns which trigger occasional barking, because they build up a picture of what your dog thinks and feels on a day to day basis. Which deepens the bond between you.
But it’s excessive and insistent barking that should really get your attention to find out what’s behind it. In many cases, the barking will stop if you find out what’s triggering it and remedy the situation. But sometimes a dog barking non-stop or more than usual could be a call for attention. Here’s the lowdown of what causes dogs to bark.
- Attention seeking
- Separation Anxiety
Dogs are sociable animals that like to be around others. When the dog feels lonely, they will raise their head and pelt out a few barks to call for anyone nearby to come and join them. This is a normal way for them to communicate their feelings, and if it only happens occasionally, it’s not bad – we all need ways to express ourselves, and we all feel lonely sometimes. But if it’s happening a lot, it means their basic need for social interaction isn’t being met, and that is having a negative impact on their welfare.
Dogs with a strong watchdog or guarding instinct will bark at anyone who approaches them or their home. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s an instinctive behavior, and one we have specifically harnessed in some breeds as a reason for keeping them in the first place, to protect our property.
Warning barking can be a problem though if your dog is actually feeling threatened by the approach of unfamiliar people. The difference is their state of mind – in this case, they are distressed, not confidently doing a ‘job’. But whether your dog is acting on natural instincts or out of fear, they’re unlikely to get tired of warning barking as long as the trigger is still there.
When you get home, your dog may welcome you with a few excited barks and a few dances. The exact welcoming ritual varies from one dog to the next. But this type of joyous barking is often brief. It’s like a valve for releasing some of the emotional rush upon seeing you. Dogs who bark a greeting to you when you get home usually lose interest in it as soon as the excitement has subsided a bit.
Dogs love the attention of their favorite person. Or in the case of friendly breeds like Labradors – any person! But problems can develop if we let ourselves get into the habit of giving them positive attention when they bark. For example, chatting back to them, or scratching them behind the ears in recognition that we heard them. This reinforces the bark – they will be more likely to do it again in future, when they want more of the same result! As long as you keep reinforcing this kind of bark, your dog will never get tired of it, because it will always be rewarding.
For dogs with separation anxiety, barking can be a way of diffusing strong feelings of stress about being left alone. They may well get tired, but they might keep on barking anyway, because until you get back, they’re still stressed. This kind of barking doesn’t stop because they get exhausted by it, it stops when you change how they feel about being left alone.
Most dogs were originally bred to do some sort of job – whether helping a huntsman retrieve his quarry, or keeping a wealthy noblewoman company. They can get bored and frustrated when the thing they were designed to do doesn’t need doing. Since they’re also clever, they can get bored when there is nothing to engage their brains. In these cases barking can give them something to do, even if it’s not their first (or second, or third) choice. They might get tired and move on from it after a while, but it depends on their stamina. They could move on to destroying the furniture as well, so getting tired of barking isn’t always even a good thing!
A few of the reasons for barking we’ve already looked at have an element of frustration. So this is a kind of catch-all category for sources of frustration not already captured. Such as for my dog, who sometimes barks when he can’t greet a dog properly because they’re both on the leash (and, for example, on opposite sides of the road). Dogs have a highly ritualized way of greeting one another on friendly, non-threatening terms, and when he can’t express it properly, my dog barks to communicate frustration and the need to do something in that moment. He stops when the moment passes, but we have also managed to decrease this behavior by giving him other things to do (like focusing on us in exchange for treats).
Which Dog Breeds Bark More than the Others?
Not all dogs have the same vocal tendencies and talents. Some dog breeds are a lot more articulate than others. Guard dogs such as Doberman Pinschers are by nature or training louder and will bark more often than other breeds. Hounds, sheepdogs, and terriers are some of the noisiest and most vocal dogs by far. They bark at every intruder or perceived threat. Dogs which have been bred to work in a pack, like Beagles, are also famously noisy. And lots of small breeds like Chihuahuas have a reputation for being noisy partly due to genetics and partly because we’re especially likely to fall into that trap of reinforcing barking by giving it attention.
Some dogs have a reputation for hardly barking at all, such as Golden Retrievers and sighthound. But these are generalities not rules – my own noisy dog is a Whippet!
Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking if You Ignore Them?
This depends on why they started. We’ve seen why dogs get tired or lose interest in some types of barking either once they are physically spent, or the thing that triggered it has passed. It’s a good idea to ignore this kind of barking, because giving it attention can encourage more of it.
But, when dogs have formed an unhealthy emotional relationship with barking – for example as a displacement activity for feelings of anxiety – they are unlikely to stop just because you ignore it. In these cases, you need to proactively address the cause of the barking to make it stop.
How to Keep your Dog from Barking Excessively
One of the easiest ways to keep the dog’s barking to a minimum and lower the decibels is to find the cause and trigger of the barking and solve the problem.
- Don’t reward barking
- Make silence rewarding
- Get more active
- Provide mental stimulation
- Use counter conditioning
Don’t Reward Barking
Discourage dogs from barking for attention by ignoring it. Even ‘bad’ attention like shouting can be reinforcing, so give it no attention, and find out what to do instead in the next section…
Make Silence Rewarding
Although this goes against some dogs’ very nature, when you reward them for being quiet, it can reinforce more quiet behavior. Wait for your dog to stop barking, and mark the moment with a handful of treats at 1 or 2 second intervals. This is particularly effective for discouraging a dog from barking at specific triggers, like someone walking past the window.
Get the Dog More Active
Barking is energy intensive. So if you help the dog spend more energy playing, they will be less likely to bark that often. It’s not about tiring them out so that they don’t have the energy to bark – it’s about meeting their need for physical activity, so that they don’t need to bark from boredom, frustration or to release pent up energy anymore.
Keep them Mentally Stimulated
Dogs don’t just need physical activity, they need mental stimulation too. Bring the dog more toys and engage them in games and activities that use their brains and problem solving abilities. The satisfaction this gives them will mean less need to bark.
Use Counter Conditioning
For dogs that bark in distress because they have separation anxiety, or they’re scared of other dogs, it’s not a matter of addressing the barking specifically. Rather, you need to change how the dog feels about the situation. Counter conditioning is a powerful way to do that, and you can read more about it here.
Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking? Summary
Barking is physically hard work, and it does make dogs tired. But that doesn’t always mean they’ll stop, if there is an emotional reason behind it that they don’t have control of. To reduce how much your dog barks, you need to work out why they’re barking in the first place. The same solution doesn’t work for every type of barking!
More Help with Barking
- Are Labradors noisy?
- Solving night time barking
- How to reduce barking using the Click For Quiet technique
- Jégh-Czinege et al. A bark of its own kind – the acoustics of ‘annoying’ dog barks suggests a specific attention-evoking effect for humans. Bioacoustics. 2019.
- Zurlinden et al. Impact of Classical Counterconditioning on Barking in Kenneled Dogs. Animals. 2022.
- Juarbe-Diaz. Assessment and Treatment of Excessive Barking in the Domestic Dog. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 1997.
- Pongrácz et al. Barking in family dogs: An ethological approach. The Veterinary Journal. 2010.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website