March 4, 2024


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Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Yell at a Barking Dog

How many times have you heard a dog speak English? I haven’t, ever — because dogs speak the language of energy. This means that instead of the words you’re saying to a dog, your dog is responding to your energy, your mood, your aura, your tone, and your body language. So if you yell at a barking dog… there are a lot of things at play in that moment.

A common challenge faced by dog owners is the issue of excessive barking, often stemming from a deeper canine perspective. In this blog, we’ll delve into the root causes of incessant barking, exploring the intricacies of canine behavior and discussing a transformative approach to curbing this behavior without resorting to the futile act of yelling.

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Understanding Your Dog: The Pack Dynamic

Dogs Rely on Non-Verbal Communication:

Dogs, as astute observers of their human counterparts, interpret our actions, energy, and body language to understand how they should navigate the world. In their minds, we are the leaders of their pack, and they look to us for cues on how to behave. The challenge arises when we communicate unintentionally or fail to convey a sense of leadership and security.

The Root Cause of Excessive Barking: Stress and Lack of Leadership:

Excessive barking is a symptom of stress, often stemming from the dog’s uncertainty about its role within the pack. If the human fails to communicate that they are the leader and are taking care of the pack, the dog may feel compelled to assume a leadership role itself. This newfound responsibility thrusts the dog into a perpetual state of high alert, believing it must guard the pack against potential threats. The result? Unrelenting barking, a desperate attempt to maintain order and security in the absence of clear guidance.

Breaking the Bark Cycle: A Shift in Approach

Why Yelling Doesn’t Work:

The knee-jerk reaction for many frustrated dog owners is to raise their voice or yell when their canine companions won’t cease their barking symphony. However, this approach is counterproductive. Dogs don’t comprehend the meaning of our words; instead, they interpret the increased volume as a sign that their human is joining them in the alert. The unintended consequence? Both human and dog are now engaged in the communal act of “barking,” with no one effectively addressing the perceived threat.

Shifting Your Energy: The Leader’s Responsibility:

Rather than resorting to futile yelling, the key to stopping excessive barking lies in a shift of energy. As the pack leader, it is your responsibility to convey a sense of calm and centeredness. Dogs, perceptive beings attuned to our energy like an X-ray, will respond in kind. By maintaining a composed demeanor, you signal to your dog that you are in control, providing the much-needed assurance that someone is overseeing the pack’s safety.

Leadership Begins with Your Mindset:

Changing your dog’s behavior starts with altering your own mindset. Recognize that, as the pack leader, your energy sets the tone for the entire group. Embrace a calm and assertive mindset, and your dog will instinctively follow suit. Over time, this shift in energy can redefine your dog’s relationship to triggers, stressors, and perceived dangers.

Practical Steps to Stop Excessive Barking

1. Stay Calm and Centered:

When confronted with a barking frenzy, resist the urge to match your dog’s intensity with raised voices. Instead, take a deep breath, center yourself, and project an energy of calm assertiveness. Your dog will look to you for guidance on how to respond to the situation.

2. Consistent Reinforcement:

Consistency is key. Reinforce the desired behavior by remaining calm and assertive every time your dog exhibits excessive barking. Dogs thrive on routine, and they’ll begin to associate your composed energy with a lack of perceived threat.

3. Gradual Exposure and Positive Reinforcement:

Introduce your dog gradually to triggers, stressors, and potential dangers, all while maintaining your calm and centered energy. Positive reinforcement for calm behavior in the face of these challenges will create new associations, gradually reducing the need for excessive barking.

4. Seek Professional Guidance:

If the barking persists despite your efforts, consider seeking the guidance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide tailored strategies to address the specific triggers causing stress and help you refine your leadership skills.

5. Engage in Interactive Play and Exercise:

Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever for dogs. Engage in interactive play and regular exercise to channel your dog’s energy positively. A tired dog is a content dog, less likely to engage in excessive barking out of boredom or frustration.

Mastering the Language of Energy

Understanding the silent language of our dogs is key to healing our relationships and allowing them to show up as the best versions of themselves. Excessive barking is not a sign of disobedience… but rather a cry for leadership and security. Yelling, a common human response to this behavior, only perpetuates the problem by reinforcing the act of alerting the pack.

By embracing a shift in energy, maintaining a calm and centered demeanor, and consistently reinforcing desired behavior, we can break the bark cycle and communicate to our dogs that we are the leaders they seek. The journey to curbing excessive barking is a transformative one, where the true mastery lies not in words but in the silent language we share with our loyal companions.

Sasha Armstrong

Founder of Canine State of Mind

A place where dog parents can learn more about canine behavior and how to create the environment for a closer relationship with their dog.



Understanding Energetic Cues and Expressions in Dogs

Transforming your relationship with your dog requires understanding how they view our world and communicate in it. Learning to read your dog’s energetics and cues goes beyond interpreting their behavior–it’s about cultivating a profound connection to our canine companions. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn to:
  • Decode canine energetic cues
  • Become a confident and peaceful leader capable of meeting your dog’s needs
  • Foster trust, respect, and empathy with your dog
  • Ensure your dog feels safe + valued
  • Cultivate a deep sense of of purpose in your own life

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