Territorial or alert barking

Is my dog territorial or alert barking? 

A dog's persistent barking is the result of an issue; therefore, it is very important to find out why a dog barks. Dogs that bark persistently are often trying to alert someone that their needs are not being met.

The barking will be resolved when the cause is addressed. Managing the environment that a dog lives in will assist in resolving the barking issue. To assist in identifying why your dog is barking, firstly consider what your dog is doing when he/she is barking?

Reasons why my dog might be barking

  • Movement outside the property i.e. vehicles, people/school children passing, other dogs passing, bus stop, road works, sports events etc.
  • neighbours moving on their property i.e. gardening, socialising, playing etc.
  • other animals in the vicinity i.e. cats, possums, rats, birds etc.
  • unfamiliar visitors approaching the home
  • unfamiliar sounds or smells
  • other dogs barking.

Actions to try to resolve the barking

Increase physical, mental and social enrichment:

  • block view of street or give your dog viewing access of street
  • give your dog access to family home
  • bring your dog inside at identified times to avoid triggers
  • containment in a different area
  • interactive play with your dog at home when you return
  • call your dog to come to you and give them a treat – this reinforces to the dog that their job is done
  • feed your dog from slow release food dispensing toys (treat balls), morning and night
  • provide problem solving activities such as hunting for food and scent games
  • invest in snuffle mats, clam shells filled with water and sand for digging or make your own doggy toys (there are some great examples online, search the internet for ideas)
  • create a sensory garden – different surfaces, heights and objects to encourage exploration and interaction
  • rotate toys
  • join a dog training school or visit the RSPCA for a list of force-free trainers
  • day care or engage a qualified dog walker.

Monitoring my dog's progress

Seek feedback from neighbours through weekly check-ins. Sometimes neighbours have a good idea of how your dog is behaving, especially if the barking occurs while you are away from home. Download the “Dear Neighbour”(PDF, 211KB) feedback card to place in your neighbour’s letter box(es) or hand it to them personally to complete and return to you. Other ways to monitor progress include use of recording equipment such as phones, tablets, CCTV or noise monitor recording devices.

If the actions I am trialling work

Continue to monitor your progress and:

  • provide consistency to your dog’s daily life – stick to your agreed plan of approach to manage the barking
  • reward your dog with treats, praise or play for quiet behaviour 
  • keep a diary of your dog’s behaviour.

If there is no improvement within two weeks

Seek professional advice from your vet or a certified dog behavioural trainer.

Visit the RSPCA for a list of force-free trainers.