Humans speak, cats meow, cows moo and dogs bark. It’s their way of communicating, and as a dog owner, you should make a little effort to learn what they’re trying to tell us. 

Barking in public spaces

If your dog barks at cars, traffic lights or bikes it usually means they’re scared of them. If you send they are scared, try to maintain their attention with a command rather than stroking and comforting them. The fear should decrease over time, but if it persists it might be worth calling in a professional. 

Does your dog bark to initiate play with other dogs at the park? Often, this will coincide with a jauntily wagging tail and a bouncy step, and it simply means they’re being friendly.

If they’re barking with their ears back, and a lowered wagging tail it can be a sign of aggression. They might feel your safety is threatened or because they want to protect their toys. This often happens with dogs who haven’t been properly socialised in puppyhood.

If aggressive behaviour around other dogs or humans in public becomes a regular occurrence you need to take action immediately and consult a behavioural therapist.

You can also read Emily’s experience of living with a nervous dog here.

Barking in the house

It’s common for a dog to bark when a visitor arrives at the house; it’s their territory and they are trying to protect their family by alerting them to potential danger.

Try not to scold, and definitely don’t reassure them with a treat or a pat. Remain calm, and with a level voice and perhaps say something like “Let’s see who is here to see us”, or simply ignore their barking.

Some dogs bark at the TV; at adverts and loud noises, or when animals appear on screen. This may be out of excitement, frustration, stress or fear.

Try and read your dog’s body language; are they excited or distressed?

If they’re excited try the trick of ignoring them to show it doesn’t affect you, or verbally scold them in a measured tone.

If they’re scared, keep the volume low and gradually increase it day by day.

Reward them for quiet behaviour while the TV is on, and hopefully their fearful reactions will diminish over time. 

Separation anxiety

Returning from work to our disgruntled neighbour telling us our dog has spent the whole day barking and whining (not to mention destroyed your fave cushion, chewed your Jimmy Choos and scratched the front door).

This is more common in some dog breeds, but if periods of separation are introduced to a dog from a young age, it is avoidable.

When you first get your pooch, leave the house for a few minutes at a time, and gradually increase the time away with every trip. Leave a couple of lights on, play some background noise and pop a recently used item of clothing near or in their bed which will comfort them. 

Never enter the house if you can hear your dog barking of crying; it will be challenging, but wait until a few moments of silence have passed and re-enter then. 

Hard as it might be, don’t give your pooch a big cuddle goodbye, and on your return try to ignore them until they have calmed down. If the house is spick and span, reward them with a cuddle and a treat, but don’t over-excite them in the process. 

If these tricks don’t work, call in a behaviourist.

You may be tempted to use a shock collar, which releases an electric charge into your doggo when they bark. Please don’t! We’ve read that in the long run are harmful for both their physical and mental health.

You can always use Gudog and find a dog walker or sitter to drop in on your pooch while you’re out at work. Sign up here, and choose from 1000s of trusted walkers and sitters near you. 


If your house is your sanctuary, and you want the love of a pet without the noise, maybe get yourself a cat. Or you can check our Dog Furiendly’s tips on how to settle your pooch, here

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