Ask the AKC Animal Behaviorist: Help! My Dog Won't Stop Barking
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Dear Dr. Burch,
Our dog Quigley is a very yappy Shetland sheepdog who barks at everything -- air, cars, leaves, vacuum cleaners, brooms, snow, people, other dogs, etc. He is the sweetest, most lovable dog ever, but the noise is driving us crazy. What do you recommend to tame his incessant barking?
Dr. Burch Says: As a Shetland sheepdog, Quigley's actually got a long heritage of barking. Shelties originally were used by farmers to herd livestock. Because Shelties are smaller dogs, they often use their voices to get the livestock moving, so your problem isn't unusual.
There are a number of reasons dogs bark. The most common include:
- Alerting behavior, such as when a stranger is at the front door.
- To show excitement, like you would see during an active play session.
- To communicate with you when he wants something, as in, "Let's go outside!"
- To communicate with other dogs when he wants to say hello or something else.
- Separation behavior, such as when dogs bark, bark, bark when their owners are gone.
Some herding breeds, like the Shetland sheepdog, will also bark when something is moving. This can be caused by excitement or a desire to herd the object. You've mentioned several situations that sound like moving objects are an issue, including cars, falling leaves, vacuum cleaners, brooms, snow, and other dogs.