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Help! My Dog is Barking at Nothing

Chihuahua on a leash standing on a paved surface barking.

Barking is how dogs communicate, but, sometimes, they bark without any obvious reason. Dogs can hear sounds between 40 to 60000 Hertz, which is much bigger than the audible range of humans (20-20000 Hz). Therefore, dogs can hear (and bark at) noises that cannot be determined by their owners. If you feel that your dog is barking at nothing, think again as there are plenty of possible reasons for this strange behavior.

Why is My Dog Barking at Nothing?

Even if the barking of your dog seems random, it can have an underlying reason. The owners who have an idea about the different styles of their pup’s barking can easily determine the exact cause. The following are some popular reasons that can instigate dogs to bark at nothing.

Territorial Barking

The hearing and smelling senses of dogs are much better than humans. According to Union Lake Pet Services, dogs can smell up to 100000 times better than humans. Likewise, their hearing is 4 times better than ours. Therefore, they can hear or smell things that are way beyond our grasp.

Whenever a canine notices something odd, he/she will bark to protect his territory and alert the owner. These barks are used as clear indications to suggest that this is your dog’s territory. Mostly, pups do it when they hear or smell other people and animals around their territory.

Hazy Noises from Neighborhood

German Shepherd on a leash in a grass field barking

Distant noises, coming from nearby homes, can also be responsible if your dog is barking at nothing. Although we can’t hear these noises due to several different barriers, like doors, dogs can hear quite easily. Some common examples of neighborhood sounds that might instigate barking include the noise of car parking and the barking of other dogs.

Barking for Getting Your Attention

This type of barking is often labeled as ‘unexplained’ because there is no apparent reason for it. Normally, if your dog is barking while staring at you, it’s quite likely that he/she is asking for attention. Pet Helpful explains that most canines develop this habit when their owners do not pay much attention. Likewise, they prefer negative actions, like scolding, to control their furry companion.

Frustration Barking

This type of barking is caused due to the eagerness of your dog to perform a certain action. For example, the desire to look or get to the other side of the fence can make your furry friend bark in frustration.

Medical Reasons

Dog laying down with Vet looking in dog's ear

If your dog is continuously barking at nothing, he/she could well be suffering from a serious health issue. Diseases, like infections and tumors, are quite common among canines and can become fatal if left untreated. Sometimes, the style and intensity of the barking explain the seriousness of the problem.

Wild Small Animals

Small animals, like mice, can also be the reason for your dog’s barking (especially if your dog is outside). These animals disturb the peace of your pup by continuously moving around in his/her yard. If that’s the case, you will get odd barking spells from your dog.

What Can I Do If My Dog is Barking at Nothing?

small brown and black dog on a leash standing in the road barking

There are a variety of reasons because of which dogs can bark excessively. In fact, some dog breeds are bred to bark more, and they don’t even need any major reason for it. However, every problem has a solution and below are some ways to stop your dog if he/she is barking at nothing.

Ignore Your Dog

This technique is used when your dog is barking just to get your attention. In these situations, you should ignore your pup, completely. This means that you shouldn’t even make eye contact with your canine companion.

When the dog will not get any response for some time, he/she will ultimately stop barking. These attention-seeking barks can also be reduced or stopped by increasing your dog’s playing and exercising time. These activities drain your pup’s extra energy and keep him calm.

Keep Your Dog Inside

If you own a well-trained canine of a small breed, keeping him/her inside your home is an excellent alternative to curb negative barking. The barking instincts of your dogs get triggered when they go outside and see humans and other animals. Consequently, staying indoors is a viable solution.

Distract Your Dog

Woman in orange and red jacket holding one finger up telling the dog to wait

In contrast to ignoring, gaining your pooch’s attention can also be helpful if your dog is barking at nothing. Generally, this method is used when you don’t know the exact reason for barking. You can either use verbal or hand commands to get the attention of your canine companion.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an extremely effective way of training dogs. This means that you reward the positive actions of your pup and avoid his/her negative activities. If the dog is barking at nothing, giving a treat whenever he/she stops barking is positive reinforcement. If the barking continues, simply ignore your furry friend.

Visit a Vet or a Dog Behaviorist

If your dog is barking due to an underlying health issue, visiting the vet is the most appropriate solution. It is a serious situation because you won’t be able to stop the barking unless the problem is identified (and treated). In case of a behavioral problem, hire the services of a dog behaviorist to overcome the health-related problems. Once the dog is feeling comfortable (either due to medication or training), he/she will stop barking.

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