Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking? + How To Stop Nuisance Barking

A dalmatian dog with brown spots barking while outdoors.

Few things are quite as annoying as near-endless barking, and the loud, repetitive noise has driven many people to sheer desperation.

(Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine, Kramer, and Newman kidnap a neighbor’s dog?)

Our human reaction to incessant barking is no surprise considering the fact that the average bark is in excess of 100 decibels, roughly equivalent to the noise produced from a chainsaw.

To put that in perspective, damage to hearing can occur at as little as 85 decibels.

There’s little doubt that people quickly grow tired of nuisance barking, but what about the dogs responsible for the racket?

Do dogs get tired of barking? While it is doubtful that dogs get tired of barking, eventually they will get tired from barking, though barking may continue for hours until this point is reached. Dogs will cease barking once they grow bored, achieve the desired result, or become too physically and mentally tired to continue.

Continuous barking can negatively affect you in several ways. It can disrupt sleep patterns, raise blood pressure, ruin your ability to concentrate, cause irritability, and elevate stress levels.

Whether it is your own dog causing the problem or you’re dealing with a noisy neighboring dog, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for in the following.

Dogs and Barking

It may appear that dogs eventually get tired of barking (as no dog can truly bark indefinitely), but the fact of the matter is that no one really knows for certain how dogs think and what exactly goes through their minds. 

According to ScienceDaily, a recent study indicated that dogs have a “voice area” in their brain quite similar to ours.

This enables them to differentiate between voices, both human and canine, and to distinguish changes in tone and pitch. 

So, dogs are very much aware that they are making noise, but whether or not they grow tired of producing the endless barking remains somewhat of a mystery. 

Given the fact that barking can continue for hours and is an instinctive reaction to certain stimuli, it is rather unlikely that they ever get tired of barking.

Dogs exhibiting nuisance barking eventually stop on their own when:

  • They become bored.
  • When their desires are met.
  • When they realize that barking isn’t getting the reaction they were hoping for.
  • When they’re distracted.
  • When they become physically and mentally drained from the effort.

Barking Is a Key Form of Communication for Dogs

Although many forms of dog communication aren’t verbal, such as body posture and movement, ear and tail carriage, eye movement, and scent, dogs do use verbal communication in the form of barking, whining, growling, howling, etc. to express themselves or vocalize a need.

Of course, we want our dogs to communicate with us, and when we understand the signals they give, we can efficiently meet their needs and deepen the bond and trust already established.

However, when it comes to barking for hours on end, owners are often at a loss as to why it’s occurring, what to do about it, and how long it may continue without intervention. 

Some dogs can and will bark for hours and hours before eventually stopping. Some dogs will even bark so long that they’ll grow hoarse as their vocal cords become strained.

Others may stop barking after only a short time.  

Although no one really knows why they eventually stop, we do know that while barking does require physical effort and mental focus, it isn’t particularly taxing for the dog.

That’s why some can continue to produce a cacophony of sounds for hours without seeming to get tired. 

The key to controlling the behavior requires understanding the cause of the barking. Only then can you remedy the situation and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Excessive Barking: Causes and Solutions

A large, tan dog barking while standing inside a fenced courtyard.

Barking is triggered by a multitude of reasons, though whatever the reason, it can usually fit neatly into one of the following categories.

Barking To Gain Attention

Boredom, loneliness, unhappiness, frustration, and a desire for attention all can result in persistent barking.

The motivation for this type of barking could be a desire to be fed, play, go outside, go inside, interact with you or another dog, access a toy just out of reach, go for a walk, etc.

A dog left outside by himself will often resort to this type of barking.

Also, this is common in dogs who are under exercised, aren’t mentally stimulated, and/or receive very little companionship.

This type of barking tends to be high pitched and repetitive with pauses in between barks.

Solution

Increasing the amount of physical exercise your dog gets each day will certainly help as will simply making an effort to spend more one-on-one time with him daily. Also:

  • Provide lots of mental stimulation in the form of puzzle games, training, walking in unfamiliar territory, agility work, car rides, trips to the dog park, etc. (see our guide here).
  • Ignore nuisance barking if there is no cause for concern, and reward good behavior.
  • Use a distraction, such as a quick air horn blast, to divert his attention. Be careful not to reward the barking by tossing him a treat or favorite toy as this will only reinforce the bad behavior.
  • Teach the Quiet command. (Don’t just assume he knows what the word means when you’re screaming it at 3 a.m. without training properly first.)
  • Keep the area where your dog is prone to bark the most well supplied with interactive toys. 

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Barking To Communicate

Barking to communicate a need, express emotion, or alert to danger is a normal response; however, when it goes on and on and/or becomes an obsessive behavior, it is considered excessive.

These barks are typically medium in pitch with short breaks between barks. They can be directed toward other dogs as well as to people.

Pinpointing to whom and about what they are communicating is often the first step in addressing the issue.

Solution

Ensuring all of your dog’s needs are consistently met will eliminate some of the more common causes of excessive communication barking.

However, there are often other factors at play as well.

  • Restrict the dog’s view. Close curtains, install privacy screens along the fence, whatever it takes to block the dog’s view of the barking trigger.
  • Ensure the dog is receiving enough physical exercise and mental stimulation daily.
  • Keep your dog indoors during times he usually engages in nuisance barking.
  • Learn to interpret your dog’s barks – if you know exactly what he’s trying to communicate with a specific pitch, duration, or sound level, you can take steps to eliminate the trigger.
  • Teach the Quiet command.

Territorial Barking

Territorial barking is usually low pitched with a pause between series of barks. Barks that alert to the presence of an intruder are similar but usually higher pitched.

Territorial barking can quickly become excessive because the behavior is reinforced whenever the perceived threat disappears.

This teaches the dog that, “If I bark a lot, I maintain control of my territory,” something that a dog takes very seriously.

Solution

Desensitizing your dog to the triggers that cause the barking is usually a successful endeavor; however, it requires time and effort.

Provided the dog isn’t aggressive, introduce him gradually to whatever typically induces territorial barking in a neutral location and allow him to spend time with the “threat” until he feels comfortable and relaxed. 

Also:

  • Block the dog’s view of whatever triggers him to bark.
  • Teach the Quiet command.
  • Distract the dog with a loud noise, being careful not to reward the behavior in any way.
  • Avoid stimuli by confining the dog during times when territorial barking is likely to occur.

Note that territorial barking can often lead to aggression. Enlist the help of a professional if you’re uncomfortable in any way.

Barking Due to Separation Anxiety, Stress, or Fear

Unfortunately, separation anxiety is a very real and growing problem in today’s dogs, especially with small breeds like Chihuahuas.

Prolonged, high-pitched barking is one of the many manifestations of separation anxiety. Instances of high stress or extreme fear can also result in unwanted barking.

Solution

Though your vet can recommend calming aids to alleviate the symptoms associated with separation anxiety and stress/fear barking, there are a few additional tips to try:

  • Don’t make a big deal about leaving the house or arriving home.
  • Crate train your dog.
  • Give your dog plenty of physical exercise before you leave home.
  • Utilize positive reinforcement training to help the dog become comfortable with being alone.
  • Provide lots of socialization opportunities (see our guide here) to help the dog gain confidence.
  • Consider using a dog day care or hire a pet sitter.
  • Use a ThunderShirt during situations your dog finds difficult.

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Related Question:

How Long Can a Dog Bark Legally? 

Local laws vary from one jurisdiction to another, but many stipulate a certain time frame, such as 20 minutes per hour or more, at which point incessant barking becomes a legal issue.

While most cities and counties have a noise ordinance and animal control laws in place, enforcement varies greatly.

Last update on 2021-09-17 at 14:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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