Why Do Dogs Bark at Nothing?

by Genevieve Van Wyden, Demand Media
    Your four-legged friend has mysterious reasons to bark.

    Your four-legged friend has mysterious reasons to bark.

    Your dog seems to bark non-stop, for no reason you can detect. You give him “the look” and he stops momentarily, then he starts right back up. Your neighbors may be complaining, so it’s time to start your detective work.

    He Hears Something

    Your dog’s hearing is much more acute than yours. What you may barely hear, he can hear clear as a bell in the next room -- even if the sound comes from a good distance. This means that, if he starts barking and doesn’t stop, you’ll need to go outside and see if you can figure out what’s causing him to bark. Of course, this means that another dog’s bark will set him off. Cue “Dueling Barkers.”

    He Sees Something

    You may see a squirrel run up a tree and think, “Oh, cool. He’s storing up food for the winter.” In contrast, your dog may see the same squirrel and it becomes a reason for frenzied barks, one right after the other. He may be thinking, “Oh, I have to tell my human about that animal in the tree!” And off he goes ... much to your worry and the irritation of your neighbors.

    Compulsive Barking

    Of course, some dogs develop a compulsion to bark, even when there is no reason for them to do so. When you start checking things out -- listening for sounds, looking for stray cats, squirrels or other dogs, seeing the leaves rustling on the trees -- nothing seems to be a reason for your beloved pet’s constant communication.
    So, dog-parent, it’s time for you to take a painkiller and call the vet. Your canine family member might have developed a compulsion he cannot control. If you, your family and your neighbors are going to get any peace, it’s up to you to let the vet know what you see -- and what you don’t see. He’ll pick the ball up from there and let you know if your pooch has some kind of a disorder.

    Detective Work

    You may have learned how to interpret your canine friend’s barks at different times by picking up on different clues. If he’s outside, standing under the tree and looking up, he’s spotted something that, to his mind, you must know about.
    If he’s standing in the middle of your yard, looking around, chances are he’s heard something that your human ears may not be able to pick up.
    Finally, if you can’t figure anything out, despite your best detective work and all the conversations you’ve had with your pet, it’s time to call the vet for help.

    About the Author

    Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.

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