Does your dog bark when he’s alone?
I know this problem.
And although it breaks my heart to leave my darling alone, sometimes there’s just no other way. If I have to go to the doctor, to work or to go shopping, my dog has to stay at home.
A solution had to be found so that my four-legged friend did not disturb the whole neighborhood with his constant barking.
In this article I will show you how to train a dog to be alone while being able to relax.
Dog barks when he is alone – these are possible causes
A common cause of your dog barking when he’s alone is separation anxiety. Your dog loves you so much that he doesn’t want to be separated from you. Some dogs suffer outright anxiety when they are afraid of being abandoned.
But then why does a dog bark? This behavior dates back to a dog’s earliest childhood. When a mother dog walks away from the pup, the pup barks to attract attention so as not to be forgotten. Barking is therefore a natural protective mechanism to draw attention to yourself. Dogs also transfer this to their favorite people and try to call them back.
But your dog doesn’t always suffer from fear of loss when he barks at you. For some dogs, it’s just boredom. If your darling has to be alone, he has no one to play with, to pet, or to watch, it can get pretty boring. Especially dogs that don’t get enough exercise and mental activity often bark out of boredom.
When walking the dog, boredom is also a factor if your dog is barking at other dogs. This can be triggered by running the same route frequently. Some dogs want something to do, like fetching a stick or giving commands. Otherwise, they occupy themselves and bark at other dogs.
How do I know what is causing the barking?
Whether the cause of the bark is separation pain or boredom, the bottom line is the same thing. But that’s not all. In order for you to be able to tackle the problem, it is very important to analyze exactly what is causing the barking beforehand. Depending on the situation, completely different approaches have to be taken.
A wrong analysis can even create new problems because imagine you are very strict with a dog suffering from a severe fear of loss and “punish” the behavior. What may help with boredom-induced barking would further upset an anxious dog and severely shake confidence.
So how do you identify separation anxiety and boredom?
Separation anxiety often manifests before you actually leave the house. Affected dogs are very affectionate and will follow you wherever you go. If you go to another room, your dog – no matter what he just did – will follow you so as not to lose sight of you.
If you try to stop this behavior, for example by telling your dog to stay in a certain room or a certain place, the four-legged friends often become restless. Some start barking in such situations until he has you back in sight.
As soon as you want to leave the house, your darling becomes even more restless and wants to be taken with you at all costs. Your dog is under a lot of stress in this situation.
When you leave the house, this is initially expressed in loud barking. When that doesn’t bring the biped back, dogs react differently. Some eventually calm down but are very frightened and don’t know how to deal with their stress. Diarrhea, loss of appetite, an increased heart rate and dilated pupils are typical signs of separation anxiety.
The other extreme is often expressed in a strong destructiveness. With this, the four-legged friends try to reduce their fear and stress. The result is tattered cushions, scratched doors and fallen furniture.
The problem in this situation is that even bored dogs often destroy things. So there are similar episodes, but they came about through completely different motives. Dogs that were just bored are usually very playful and high-spirited even in the presence of their owner. They also have fewer problems if you change rooms for a moment.
Ultimately, you know your dog best and can assess whether it is due to separation anxiety or boredom.
However, if you are unsure, you should seek advice from an expert. Because if the behavior is analyzed incorrectly, there is a risk that when you try to solve the problem, you will only make everything worse and do your dog an injustice. And of course, nobody wants that.
Dog barks when he’s alone – this is how you solve the problem
As already mentioned, before you can solve the problem, you must first analyze exactly why this behavior is occurring. Then you can try out customized solutions.
Always pay attention to your dog, he will show you what helps him and whether he is ready for the next step. Dog training is always individual, especially when it comes to solving behavioral problems.
Is your dog bored when he’s alone? This problem is relatively easy to solve. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. Ideally, you’ll really work him out the first few times you leave the house so that your dog is happy to get a good night’s sleep.
In addition, food, water and dog toys should be available so that your dog can keep himself busy. With a dog camera you can monitor your darling and check what he is doing when he is alone. Some dog cameras also have the function of giving treats.
If your dog is bored and barks, you can see this on the camera and give them treats to calm them down via the app.
In advance, you can practice with your dog how to keep himself busy by not always playing with the dog, but sometimes just throwing the toy at him and then ignoring the dog when he asks you to play. The dogs quickly learn that they can have fun on their own and don’t always need a human.
To prevent barking, you should immediately stop barking in your presence. Most dogs, who are easily bored, often bark at their owners to encourage them to play. If the two-legged friend then plays along, the dog wrongly learns that barking is good.
Additionally, if your dog barks when he’s alone and hears noises, introducing him to a variety of different noises can help. As the training progresses, you can also practice turning around in front of the front door, dropping the key and making other noises.
Boredom can also have a negative impact on dogs outside of the home. Does your dog not want to go for a walk? If you notice that your four-legged friend is reluctant to come along or is running around aimlessly, you should change something quickly.
Bring variety to your walks and spend time with your dog from time to time. Challenge him with fetch sticks or teach him new commands. Your dog will thank you.
Prevent separation anxiety
If your dog suffers from fear of loss, you should proceed very cautiously.
Punishment doesn’t help at all with this problem and can even increase the fear. Some people recommend ignoring the problem. But that doesn’t help either and can even make the problem worse.
Just imagine you are very afraid of something and someone just ignores it or even punishes you for it – not a nice idea, is it? The fact is that separation anxiety can only be solved with appropriate training and a lot of time.
1st step: Create a feel-good place
Your sweetheart needs to learn that there is a place in the home where he can relax. He can retreat there if something gets too much for him. There he will not be disturbed. This place can be, for example, a blanket or a dog box.
So that your dog associates the feel-good place with something good, it is sufficient for most four-legged friends to distribute a few treats. Chewing bones that your dog spends a long time with are also ideal. So he is busy and learns to love the feel-good place.
In addition, happy hormones are released when chewing, which are then linked to the place. When choosing a suitable place, you should respond to the preferences of your dog. The four-legged friends often have a favorite place in the house themselves, where they often sit. So why not set up a feel-good place right there?
Step 2: Teach the dog to relax
Once the feel-good spot is established, it’s time to teach your loved one to relax. Essential oils like lavender can help. Your dog should learn to switch off on command and stay in his comfort zone without constantly following you. So that your dog is not overwhelmed, you should slowly increase your distance from him.
It could look like this: You send your four-legged friend to his place of well-being and give him the command to relax. A chewing bone helps as a distraction.
Then move away a little, wait a while, and if your dog remains relaxed, bring him back in and praise him. The next time you go a little further away, first only for a short time, later longer and longer. The important thing is that your dog has to notice that you keep coming back.
Step 3: When leaving the house, don’t let any unrest arise
Many dog owners say goodbye to their dogs intensely when they leave and stage their return. However, this signals the four-legged friend that something special is coming up and that is exactly what you should avoid with dogs with separation anxiety.
If you can move away from the dog’s comfort zone for a longer period of time and your dog stays relaxed, it’s time to leave the house. Everything should be as normal as possible. Routines keep your dog safe.
It’s best to proceed as in step 2 and then just walk out the front door for a few seconds without saying goodbye. If all stays calm, go back inside and praise your dog. This is then increased further and further until you can go out without a house for any length of time.
If he starts barking again, take a step back in your training and work on relaxing. When you come back, everything should be normal. If your dog gets excited and jumps around and is happy to see you again, you should ignore this behavior.
Only when relaxation returns is there extensive praise. I know it’s tough sometimes, but persistence pays off.
If your dog barks when he’s alone, it can be triggered by either boredom or separation anxiety.
For the former, teaching the dog to entertain itself and completely ignore barking as a play prompt will help.
Separation anxiety, on the other hand, requires a lot of sensitivity. Take your time and practice relaxing with your dog, even once you’re out of their line of sight. You should never punish anxious four-legged friends, as this will only make the problems worse.
Sometimes you can’t go it alone. For example, a friend of mine has the problem that her old dog barks when he is alone. This is especially difficult because this behavior has been automated for years.
In such cases, it can be helpful to seek professional help. This saves time and nerves.
In such a case, I recommend the barking online course by Martin Rütter & Conny Sporrer. The online course can help you to understand your darling’s barking behavior and effectively train the barking away. So that you can finally go about your everyday life again without barking.