Few things in life can drive you as mad as a dog who doesn’t seem to stop barking. Whether it’s the deep, shuddering Staffy bark or the ear-piercing yap of a puppy. It can be frustrating to deal with constant barking every time your leave the room. Your neighbours certainly won’t appreciate it when you leave the house either.
The great news is that barking is not something that dogs need to do in order to be happy. Of course, at times, it is perfectly normal and used to communicate.
However, a relaxed dog does not bark so persistent baking is, generally speaking, a sign of stress, frustration, anxiety or over-excitement and none of these emotions are particularly good for your dog, yourself or your neighbours!
This article will help you understand a bit more about why your dog might be barking and some tips on how to stop a Staffy barking when you leave the house or room.
Why Does My Staffy Bark Excessively?
Like talking for humans, barking is a natural behaviour for dogs. Whenever a dog barks, he/she is trying to communicate somebody or something else. Of course, the dog does not know we cannot understand it and hear their bark as purely noise.
As a result, it needs to be understood that barking is not inherently bad and doesn’t need to be stopped all together. With that being said, excessive and persistent barking are signs that there is a problem that needs to be solved.
It isn’t the barking itself that needs fixing, it is the issue your dog is trying to communicate to you.
Before the barking stops, you must understand the potential cause of it.
Here are some of the common reasons for a dog to bark when left alone:
Boredom/Frustration: Dogs who are left alone throughout the day with nothing to do mostly can turn to barking due to frustration of being bored. Dogs who bark because of boredom will bark continuously and may find destructive ways to channel their frustration.
Separation anxiety: Staffies are a social breed and it's natural for them to be anxious anytime they are left alone for the first time. If you can, taking time to teach your Staffy that being alone is OK when while they are young could help to prevent future problems.
Fear: Your Staffy can bark as a result of fear. They may be fearful of noises or scared of people coming close to their territory, especially at night. Your Staffy may also be scared of thunderstorms, fireworks, lawnmowers and other loud, unusual noises. This is one of the easier causes to spot and can be remedied by doing your best to remove the cause or situate your dog in an area where they are less effected by it.
Territorial behaviour: It is very normal for your Staffy to want to warn you against potential intruders. Your dog may not have the ability to differentiate between people walking past your house, your visitors, and intruders. If you know your do has a problem with territorial behaviour, this article from Rover.com could be worth a read.
Attention-seeking: As I mentioned earlier, barking is how your dog communicates and, sometimes, they might simply want some attention from you. This is perfectly normal but you should try not to engage your dog every time he/she barks as it will encourage the behaviour.
Tips to Stop a Staffy Barking When Left Alone
Now to the main point of the article: preventing excessive barking when you leave your dog on its own.
Here are a few fairly simple tips that you can experiment with to calm your dog's barking.
- Exercise: Exercise your dog before you leave them – a tired dog is more likely to relax.
- Find the right space: Try leaving your dog in different areas. Some dogs will relax more if they are given more freedom while others can find comfort in being confined to a smaller room.
- Music and TV: Consider leaving music on for your dog or the TV. These distractions can help calm your dog, especially if they are likely to be triggered by noises.
- Close curtains and blinds: Sometimes your dog’s anxious barking is triggered by something they see out of the window.
- Hire a dog walker: If you’re going to be gone for many hours, giving your dog some company and exercise in the middle of the day can certainly help. If you’re not sure where to find a reputable walker, dog walking apps like these ones can be useful.
- Leave calmly: Leave your dog calmly.Whilst it's fun to make a fuss of your pup when you leave and say goodbye, it's better if you go calmly. Say goodbye 5 minutes before leaving to help them stay relaxed as you go.
- Give them an “only-when-I’m-gone” toy: I got this idea from reading a helpful article on Petfinder.com. The idea is to save a special toy that you only give your dog when you leave the house. You need to make sure the toy is something very special as it is supposed to provide your dog with a real treat that they only get when its time for you to leave. Something like a stuffed Kong toy filled with an extra-tasty filling.
The idea is to frame the experience of you leaving home as a more positive one for your pup. As a bonus tip for calming your dog further, leave your sent all over the toy by rubbing it in your palms before you leave as well.
- Enlist professional Help: If nothing seems to be working, it may be time to enlist the help of a professional dog behaviourist. Having an expert come to your home should allow a better diagnosis of the caused of your dog’s barking. They will also know the best methods to use once the cause has been found. This is likely to be the most pricey method but should almost guarantee results as long as you find a reputable behaviourist. You can ask your vet for a recommendation or use a site like this: https://capbt.org/findabehaviourist.php to find a qualified dog behaviour specialist.
If you can’t find someone in your area or don’t have the budget for it, there are other options. These days, you don’t need to go out and pay for a dog behaviourist to come to your house to get help from a professional. It can be worth trying out popular online training courses. They can be a good happy medium between 1-2-1 professional training and the DIY approach.
For a barking dog, I currently recommend the approach of The Online Dog Trainer, “Doggy Dan”. He offers a complete dog and puppy training course for a monthly fee but also offers a short trial for less than £1, which should allow you to digest the material related to barking. You can click here to learn more about Doggy Dan's online training course.
Products for Reducing Barking
Here’s a list of a few products you can buy that have been designed to curb your staffy’s barking in one way or another. Your main focus should be to eliminate the actual cause of the barking but these kind of products can be useful alongside your other tactics.
These jackets work to relieve your dog's anxiety by applying a gentle, warm pressure to their body. The pressure is supposed to make them feel safe and calm. Many owners have had great success with these products but, as with most methods, mileage may vary with your dog.
Recommended comfort jacket:
There are a range of natural supplements for dogs that are designed to help them relax in stressful situations. It is worth being aware that they won’t treat the specific cause of the issue, they simply mask and reduce the effect of the symptoms felt by your dog. A bit like when you take a paracetamol for a headache.
Recommended calming supplement:
These collars are the humane alternative to traditional, and nasty, shock collars. Instead of giving your dog a shock when they exhibit “bad” behaviour, these collars spray out a burts of citronella.
Citronella is made from lemongrass oils, which is a natural essential oil that is often found in perfume and candles.
Recommended Citronella Collar:
These work on the same principle as the citronella collars but instead of a spray, they omit either a vibration or high-frequency sound. The vibrations and sound do not harm the dog but aren’t a pleasant experience, which is why they are used to deter them from barking.
Recommended Sound & Vibration Collar:
Anti-Bark Devices (non-collar)
If you would prefer not to use a collar, there are other devices available that perform a similar job. Usually, they emit an ultrasonic sound that can be heard by dogs within a specific range. This can be good for stopping multiple dogs from barking in specific areas like the garden, which might please your neighbours. They could also stop a neighbour’s dog barking if it is within range.
Recommended ultrasonic anti-bark device: