Your pooch barks at you out of nowhere.
And they won’t stop doing it.
Oh no. What could they be telling you?
Read on to learn:
- What makes your dog bark at you (suddenly).
- Why do they ‘talk back’ when you tell them off.
- 5 helpful tips to stop them from barking at you.
- When you should be concerned about this behavior.
- And so much more…
Why does my dog bark at me (all of a sudden)?
Your dog barks at you because they’re seeking attention. Or telling you something, alerting you, asking you not to leave, greeting you, vocal, or going through puberty. If it happens suddenly, they might need help, be hungry, thirsty, scared, are smelling something on you, or have a medical problem.
15 reasons why your dog barks at you (for no reason)
#1: Your dog wants some lovin’
Let’s say you’re talking to someone on the phone. Or you’re working at your desk.
Then your pooch barks at you out of nowhere.
“What do they need?”
Do you spend enough time with your dog?
If not, they probably want some quality time with you. And if they’re a cuddly type, they might like ear or belly rubs.
And barking is one effective way to get your attention.
“Are cuddles important in dogs?”
Well, if stroking your pup gives you a different kind of happiness…
Research reveals that it’s the same for our furry friends.
Both bodies (humans and dogs) release oxytocin a.k.a. ‘love hormones,’ due to physical contact. As well as a mutual gaze.
And these substances are responsible for:
- Reducing stress.
- Enhancing human health.
- Improving attachment bond.
#2: Your dog is telling you something
“Petya, it seems like my pooch is talking to me sometimes.”
Well, you’re not wrong.
Dogs may not be able to speak in English. But, they sure can communicate with us through barking.
So if your pooch suddenly does it, they could be telling you that a family member is nearing home.
Or if you’re sitting on the couch, your dog might be saying,
“I want that spot, hooman. Will you please get up?” or “I want to sit near you. I hope you don’t mind.”
But did you know?
This ability can be a result of domestication.
A study shows that other members of the Canidae family don’t bark as much as pet dogs do.
Wolves, jackals, and foxes usually bark once. And they only do it to protect their territory.
But pet dogs have different kinds of barks. Not to mention other noises like bays and whines.
So researchers say that they developed these to communicate better with us.
#3: Your dog says “S.O.S!”
In other cases, dogs can also bark all of a sudden because they need help.
Your pooch might be asking you to get or find their toy.
But if they’re playing a while ago, their ball may be stuck under the furniture. And they want you to retrieve it for them.
Or, it could be that your dog needs a lift or wants to get down from the bed.
#4: Your dog is spooked
High-pitched and repetitive barks?
If your dog’s ears are flattened. And their tail is also low or tucked between their legs…
Something might be bothering them. So they bark and seek comfort in you.
There are many reasons for their fright.
If they lack socialization, this could be due to other people or animals around.
But the most common one is sudden loud noises. Say fireworks explosion or sounds of a gun being fired.
Learn more: 13 Reasons Why Dogs Act Paranoid All Of A Sudden
#5: Your dog doesn’t want you to leave
You’re getting ready for work.
But your pooch suddenly started barking in front of you.
“What do they want this time?”
It might be that your dog knows you’re about to go. And it means they’ll be alone again for hours.
So they’re telling you, “Please, don’t leave me. Or take me with you.”
But your dog ain’t no psychic.
They can detect it by observing your routine. Or by using their incredible sense of smell.
By sniffing the clothes or shoes you’re wearing, they can guess where you’re going.
This is because they all have different scents. So they know which ones you usually use for work. And which of them are for running or hiking for example.
#6: Your dog warns you
Next, does your pooch let out one or two sharp barks?
If so, they could be ‘alarm barking.’ And they’re alerting you of potential danger.
Canines aren’t called a man’s best friend for nothing. Most of them will naturally protect their human or family against a threat.
So your dog might have sensed that someone unfamiliar is around your area. Or there’s a wild animal nearby.
If you’re busy inside your room and the doorbell rings. Your pooch can also tell you that a visitor is waiting outside.
#7: Your dog is asking you to play with them
Is this the sound your pooch makes?
Or do they also have their head down, front limbs forward, and butt raised?
Whichever it is, your dog might be inviting you to play. Because they’re bored or bursting with energy.
The pose I described earlier is called ‘play bow.’ And this is usually a sign that they want to have some fun.
So their bark could mean, “Come on, let’s play!” or “Throw the ball, please.”
Don’t forget to check out: 19 Reasons Why Your Dog Winks (Back) At You With One Eye
#8: Your dog wants to go out
“Hooman, let me out please.”
Does your pooch bark at you…
Then pace back and forth by the door?
If they bark repeatedly and seem desperate, it might be an urgent need. Say, potty breaks.
But if not, your dog may want to have a walk or run outside.
#9: Your dog is hungry or thirsty
“Uhm, excuse me, hooman.
But it’s already past lunchtime.”
Oftentimes, it’ll be hard to know what exactly your pooch wants.
But, what they do after barking may give you a hint.
For example, if your dog leads you to their food bowl or drawer of snacks…
They could be hungry or want some treats. Or they’re telling you that they’re out of fresh water.
You might also like: Why does my dog stare at me when I eat?
#10: Your dog says “Hi!”
Does this happen in the morning?
In the middle of the day? Or upon returning home?
Relax, they don’t mean to scare you out.
Sudden high-pitched and repetitive barks can also be a greeting. Like a simple “Hello!” or “How are ya doin’?”
If this is your case, your pooch might be jumping as well. Or have their tail held high or wagging in the air.
Have you paid attention to your Fido’s tail wagging?
Trivia: Researchers found that dogs move their tails to the left when they have a positive emotion. And they’ll often wag it to the right if they feel anxious.
In canines, the right part of the brain controls their withdrawal response. This results in a left wag. While the left side is for positive stimuli. Which leads to a right wag.
#11: Your dog smells something on you
Upon arriving home…
Your pooch suddenly barks at you like you’re a stranger.
And it’s different from the ‘greeting bark’ that you often hear.
“What could this mean?”
It might be that your dog smells something on your clothes, skin, or shoes.
There may be a scent of an unfamiliar person. Or pheromones of a cat or another canine.
Note: Try to remove your shoes and hide them somewhere. Wash your hands and change your clothes. Then see if their reaction stays the same or not.
#12: Your dog loves to talk
If there are breeds who don’t usually bark like Basenjis and Chow-Chows…
So they couldn’t help but express themselves loudly. Or bark even at the slightest sounds they hear.
#13: Your dog doesn’t feel well
Does your pooch utter a series of barks? Along with whimpers and yelps?
If yes, your dog might be in pain.
This could be due to stomach ache, fever, injury, or joint pains. And the list goes on.
Note: If your dog shows other signs (e.g., reduced appetite, lethargy), bring them to the vet at once.
#14: Your dog has dementia
Does your pooch often bark abruptly at night?
And do they also seem confused these past few days?
Another medical condition that can cause dogs to suddenly bark is dementia.
This is only applicable to old dogs. And according to a study, its common signs are:
So a dog who has dementia may bark at night because they feel anxious.
This could be the result of their fading memory. Or they’re scared to roam around due to their poor vision.
Another research says that impaired sight was found in more than 90% of dogs with this condition.
Tip: To lessen their anxiety, you can play white noise or put a nightlight near their bed. Also, have a consistent time for turning the lights off and sleeping. And consult a vet for medications.
#15: Your dog hits puberty
Lastly, if this is a new behavior…
Your pooch might have already turned into an adolescent.
“Wait, is that a thing?”
One study reveals that dogs act like teenagers during puberty. Because they become more stubborn and less trainable.
AKC says that this can happen around 6 to 9 months old.
So if your pooch is around this age, they could be talking (barking) back. Or they’re testing their boundaries. And watching your reaction.
But what’s more fascinating is that…
It was found that teenage pups obey other people – except for their parents. This is why experts compare this to the rebellion stage of children.
Note: Don’t worry. The same researchers also say that this is just a phase. However, puberty is a crucial stage for them. So guide and be patient with them. 🙂
How to stop my dog barking at me? 5 tips
#1: Distract them with a command
Other dogs may not stop barking after saying “enough” countless times.
They’ll get that you don’t want them to make a noise. However, they don’t know what they need to do instead.
Take note, you’re trying to remove a behavior. So you also need to replace it with a new desirable one.
If staying quiet seems impossible for them, why not ask them to do a command?
Make them “sit” or “lie down.”
The magic here is that these could distract their mind from barking. And usually, canines who are lying down will often calm down on their own.
#2: Ignore, have a break, and reward
You might have tried this already and ignored your dog many times. But you thought you’re only making things worse.
This is because to get rid of excessive barking, an ‘extinction burst’ will happen first.
“What is it?”
It’s when behavior becomes severe. And in this case, your dog will even bark more and with greater intensity.
So most people give up and give in to their dogs. And it’s understandable because of the noise.
However, this is the best thing to do. Especially if your pooch often barks to get what they want.
But, simply ignoring them may not work. So follow these and also do the other tips:
Step 1: Ignore
So when your dog barks, ignore them. Don’t touch, speak, or look at them.
Step 2: Have breaks
If they still keep on doing it, give them time-outs. Get up or walk out of the room. Wait and return until they calm down.
Step 3: Reward
When your dog becomes quiet for a few seconds, quickly praise them. And give them treats.
But be careful. Don’t reward them while they’re barking or making noises, as you don’t want to reinforce it.
Also, reward your dog whenever they’re being a good boy/girl to encourage them.
This makes it clearer for them that all they need to do is steer away from bad behavior if they want attention.
#3: Teach them alternatives to barking
If your pooch only wants you to attend to their needs (e.g., food, potty breaks)…
You can decide if you have to correct this or not.
But if it bothers you (and your neighbors), teach them new ways to communicate.
For example, make your dog push a button near their feeding area when they’re hungry. Or teach them to bump their bowl using their snout instead.
Also, you can attach a bell near the door. Then make your pooch ring it when they want to go out.
Just remember, you have to reward them for doing these. And avoid giving what they need when they start barking.
(If they’re hungry/thirsty, wait for a few minutes before you refill their bowl.)
#4: Always give them a balanced workout
Boredom and pent-up energy are often the reasons for barking.
So ensure that your pooch receives enough physical exercise daily. As well as mental stimulation.
Most adult dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. And for energetic dogs, it can be up to 2 hours.
So take your pooch out for frequent walks. Play fetch with them in the yard. And socialize them with other canines.
Also, a good brain workout will be achieved by:
- Teaching them tricks.
- Playing scent games (finding hidden treats/toys).
- Giving them interactive toys (e.g., puzzles, treat dispensers).
#5: Avoid ‘barking’ back
What I mean by this is to avoid yelling “stop!” many times, imitating your dog, or scolding them when they bark.
Because they might think that you’re joining in the fun. Which could make them bark more and louder.
So instead, speak with a calm voice if ever you need to say a command.
People also ask:
Why is my puppy barking at me?
Your puppy is barking at you because they want attention, need something, or like to play. They could also be anxious or in puberty.
At this age, puppies will have so much energy. So they might always bark due to boredom or if they want to play with you.
New pups can be scared as well. As they’re still adjusting to their environment. And they may also want something like food or water.
But if your pup is 6 months or above, they might be acting out due to adolescence.
Does my dog bark at me for attention?
Your dog barks at you for attention if they’re doing this excessively. And with no clear reason at all (e.g., they’re not hungry, they just had a walk).
Canines who want to be noticed will also bark whenever your attention is on something else. Say, when you’re watching TV or talking to someone.
Why does my dog bark at me when I tell him off?
Your dog barks at you when you tell him off because he thinks you’re chiming in. And this could make him think that it’s acceptable. Resulting in a reinforced behavior.
What does it mean when a dog keeps barking at you?
If a dog keeps barking at you, it means that they need something from you. But in some cases, they could also be anxious or in pain.
A canine who wants something won’t stop barking until their needs are met. So they might be:
- Inviting you to play.
- Asking you to take them out.
This may be ‘demand barking’ as well. And the dog only wants your attention.
However, they can also be in discomfort due to an illness. Or anxious because of dementia or fears (e.g., noises, strangers).