How to stop your dog barking when you leave home

How to stop your dog barking when you leave home

by Ian Usher

Last updated on April 6th, 2019

Doggy Dilemmas – Barking Dogs

Knowing how to stop your dog barking is one of the challenges many pet owners, and house sitters too, struggle to solve. You need to know why your dog barks when you leave home, and to do this you need to be able to see things from a dog’s perspective.

At a house sit in Nicaragua we were house sitting and looking after Tabby, a two year old female boxer dog. She is very well trained and very well behaved. Her owners have obviously spent plenty of time with her ensuring she knows how she is expected to behave. They have set rules and boundaries that Tabby understands.

Tabby rarely barks when we leave home

Sure, she is young, lively and very boisterous, but the thing that has impressed us the most is that she only barks when appropriate. She doesn’t bark at us for attention, she doesn’t bark at us when she wants us to throw her ball. She doesn’t bark when the cleaner arrives, or when the fruit and veg lady shows up each morning.

She knows these people and is very polite and well behaved when they arrive.

But if a stranger’s car backs into the driveway, or the kids from across the road come onto the grass, too close to the front of the house, Tabby will let us know with a couple of loud barks.

Our neighbours have dogs which bark constantly throughout the day, and often continue late into the evening. Tabby never responds, even when they all start howling. It is almost as if they are of no concern or interest to her at all.

From my recent studies of dog psychology and behaviour, I think this is because Tabby’s owners are strong people, and Tabby sees them as the alpha leaders of her pack. She now considers Vanessa and I to be the leaders in the absence of her owners, and as such looks to us for clues as to how to behave when something happens.

Because we completely ignore the dogs next door, she continues to do so.

As a pet owner, and also as a house sitter, it is important to understand things from a dog’s perspective. This can help us in training our dog to behave in ways we want them to.

In this article “Doggy Dan” explains, from the dog’s point of view, why they bark when we leave them on their own, and gives some tips on how to stop your dog barking when you leave home.

How to stop your dog barking when you go out

Few things in life can drive you as crazy as a constantly barking dog. How to stop your dog barking when you go out is a commonly asked question. Whether they have that deep shuddering “Woof, woof, woof,” or that ear piercing “Yap, yap, yap,” it can get to you very quickly.

An anxious dog will bark when you leave home

The great news is that barking is not something that dogs need to do in order to be happy. In fact, generally speaking barking is a sign of stress, frustration, anxiety or over excitement, and none of these emotions are particularly good for your dog.

Or for you!

Remember a content, relaxed dog does not bark!

So lets take a look at one specific type of barking and get you started on putting a stop to this unwanted behaviour.

Why do dogs bark when you leave them at home?

Dogs who bark when you are not at home is a very common issue. Usually people have no idea that they have a problem until the neighbour, or even worse the dog control officer, pays you a visit.

Understanding why your dog is barking is the key to stopping it.

Generally speaking barking is a sign of stress!

When you actually understand what is going on in your dog’s mind you can begin to address the cause of your dogs problem, and not just treat the symptoms.

Now bear with me on this one because you MUST remember you have to see it all through your dogs eyes!

Dog Pack Psychology

So think of it like this…

Your dog is a pack animal, and understands that there are leaders and followers. And one of the pack leader’s jobs is to protect the pack.

you must be pack leader to control your dog

So when on Monday morning everybody leaves the house to go to work and leaves the dog at home alone they become stressed. You would be too if you lost your pack!

That’s the reason why they’re stressed and barking. They are calling out to you to come back. They just are trying to do their job as leader of the pack.

Think about it. If you are a parent with a young 3 year old child, one of your main jobs is to keep that child safe, so you keep an eye on them. All the time. All over the house you know where they are. They are safe. You are relaxed. If they suddenly walk out of the house and shut the front door behind them locking you in what would you do?

Chase after them? Of course…

But, what if the door was locked and you couldn’t open it? And all the other doors and windows are locked? Then what would you do?

Phone for help? Your dog doesn’t have that option!

Shout for help?

Well, that is exactly what your dog is doing…

You certainly wouldn’t sit down, relax and have a cup of tea, knowing your young child was wandering around the streets alone.

Are you starting to see why your dog is stressed and barking when you leave now?  This same stress is often the cause for all those other annoying behaviors that only happen when you’re not around – chewing, destruction, trying to dig under the fence, or jump over the fence.

stressed behaviour comes out when you are away from home if you are not the pack leader

Yep, that’s right. They are all symptoms of a stressed dog that’s desperately concerned about you not being home and safe.

Remember your dog can’t speak English to tell you any of this!

So what’s the solution? Well it’s almost certainly not by giving them a bone to chew on whilst you are away. Imagine trying that with the parent who is totally stressed that their young child is out on the streets…

“Don’t worry, here’s a box of chocolates.”

You may love chocolates but that isn’t going to help in this situation.

Toys jammed full of food and other distractions do not treat the cause of the problem either. They are only treating the symptoms. They may work, if you’re lucky, for half an hour or so – max – but not long term.

Most of you will know that this doesn’t work because you’ll have already tried it!

A simple solution to stop your dog barking

How to stop your dog barking? The solution is actually very simple.

You need to become the pack leader in your dog’s eyes.

Once you do this correctly your dog will not see it as their job to protect you. You will be able to come and go as you please and your dog will be totally relaxed.

This is the real solution to having a calm relaxed dog. No tricks here, just an honest understanding.

be the leader of your pack

Now, becoming the pack leader is not complicated. Anyone can do it, however it’s not really something that can be explained in one short article. On my website, TheOnlineDogTrainer I explain very clearly, with lots of in-depth video examples, how to establish yourself as the pack leader.

This quickly enables you to stop dogs from barking when you leave them, as well as help you address almost all other problems you may have with your dog.

Everything starts with becoming the pack leader.

Editor’s note: We highly recommend taking a look at Dan’s site. It’s where we learned so much about dog psychology, and what we learned from Dan has meant we haven’t really had a single problem with any of the dogs we have looked after over the past couple of years.

Here are some additional tips that you can use in conjunction with becoming the pack leader that will help stop your dogs 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 outside, others inside and some prefer smaller areas such as a washroom
  • Fed and watered: Always leave water down and make sure that your dog is fed and warm before you leave
  • Pick up the bones: Leave toys around for your dog but not bones – control of food is one of the keys to pack leadership
  • Music and TV: Consider leaving music on for your dog, or perhaps the TV – these distractions can help
  • Herbal remedies: There are some herbal products for dogs which can help them relax – but again they do not really treat the cause of the issue, they simply help relax them, and are also quite costly
  • Dog walkers: A walk in the middle of the day can certainly help break up your dog’s day
  • Leave calmly: Leave your dog calmly – whilst it’s fun to get excited when you leave your dog it’s better if you leave calmly – say goodbye 5 minutes before leaving to help them stay relaxed as you go
  • Comfort jackets: There are also jackets and shirts available that are designed to comfort them – however they are very expensive and have limited success in my experience. I know of one dog that actually ate his comfort jacket!

Unfortunately the popular idea that getting another dog is going to stop the problem is something I would stay well away from. Remember the source of your dog’s issue is not boredom. After all, many dogs who bark all day when the owners leave are the same dogs who lie around the house doing nothing most of the weekend when the owners are at home!

So with all that said, hopefully now you have a far better understanding of your dog’s problem!

I would suggest if you are really serious about stopping the barking immediately then learn how to establish yourself quickly as the pack leader.

That will be the end of your dog barking problems.

Editor’s note: There is actually an entire section dedicated to stopping this sort of barking under the dog problem section “Separation Anxiety” on Dan’s website

It’s not hard but you have to understand your dog’s problem through their eyes rather than human eyes! They do not want more bones, or biscuits shoved into a ball…

All they they want is you to be a strong pack leader.

The quick and easy way to an obedient dog

Click here to visit Doggy Dan’s website, and watch his FREE 4-part mini video course on how to make your dog want to be obedient

Visit Doggy Dan's website to discover how to stop your dog barking

12 comments

12 comments

harriet -

Hi ~
I have a 2 year old lab x we struggle leaving her alone. shes fine when left with another dog but if she’s left completely alone she just holws at the top of her lungs. she was raised with another dog as i lived with a friend who had a dog at the time i got my dog. I’ve tried pretty much everything and nothings working. she still feels the need to holw when we leave till we get back. our neighbours hate us.

Reply
Ian Usher -

Hi Harriet,
I can understand both your frustration and that of the neighbours.
It sounds like your dog hates being left alone. With another dog there she is fine.
There is quite a bit of info on “separation anxiety” on Doggy Dan’s website here:
https://housesittingmagazine.com/DoggyDan
You might want to ask Doggy Dan himself directly on this one… I’m not really sure what to suggest to make progress in this case.
Sorry I can’t help further.
Best wishes,
Ian

Reply
Lester Garcia -

Hi,

Great article! So we have a Bichon Havanese, Bichu, about 7 yrs old. Whenever I leave for work and my wife is home with him, he barks crazy at me as I leave the house for work almost wanting to attack & bite me. Same thing when my wife leaves for work and I’m home with Bichu, he barks crazy at her as well as she leaves the house for work. What exactly can we do to curb this behavior? I’ve considered training collars (shock collars?), but feel Bichu may be confused by a shock of static electricity sent to his neck as he barks at one of us leaving the house for work.

Any help is appreciated.
Thanks!

Lester

Reply
Ian Usher -

Hi Lester,
Glad you enjoyed the article. It is so distressing, isn’t it, when your dog’s behaviour becomes a challenge?
And the thought of using a shock collar is obviously stressful too.
It sounds like Bichu really doesn’t want you to leave home, and is trying to protect you. This often happens when your dog sees himself as being responsible for his “pack”, including you and your wife. Bichu believes he is the pack leader, and is trying to look after you in the only way he knows how… keeping a close eye on you… so he doesn’t want you to leave the house.
When you establish yourself as pack leader, your dog will be happy for you to come and go as you please.
Take a look at Doggy Dan’s free video series, and you’ll see how vital it is to be leader in your dog’s eyes.
https://HouseSittingMagazine.com/DoggyDan
Hope this helps.
Best wishes to you and Bichu.
Ian

Reply
Katherine Van Cleft -

My Shih tau is 11 years old. I never had a problem with her barking when I leave the house. Just recently she started barking uncontrollable un- till I come back home. Then she starts panting and panting like she is going to have a heart attack. I’ve taken her to the Vet she has done blood work up on her and prescribed I give her Trazodone 50 mg a hour before I leave, Tried that didn’t work, she then prescribed fluoxetine 10mg once a day. That still didn’t work. I am at my wits end she now is starting to wake me up early early morning panting constantly. This dog never in all the years I have her ever did this. There is nothing that has changed in her life. I don’t understand and would like to know what can I do to stop this behavior. If you can suggest anything o help this situation please let me know. Thanks so much Kathie Van Cleft.

Reply
Ian Usher -

Hi Kathie,
Sorry to hear you are having these problems with your dog after so many great years together.
It certainly sounds like your dog is being stressed by something. Are you sure that nothing has changed in her environment?
The early morning panting may be stress, or may be something more physical. Maybe you could try for a second opinion from another vet?
For stress related issues, particularly anxiety caused by separation, we have another article here:
https://housesittingmagazine.com/dog-separation-anxiety-training/
It is written by dog psychology expert Dan Abdelnoor, and you might find his dog training video series to be very helpful. We certainly did.
He talks a lot about why dogs bark so much and get so stressed when the owner goes out.
https://HouseSittingMagazine.com/DoggyDan
I hope you find a solution to this problem.
Best wishes,
ian

Reply
Terri L Schwarting -

Hi, my 4-year old male pound puppy adoptee (Shih Tzu tu/ poodle mix) who’s been with me 2 years is out of control with anxiety. We’re in a new city, completely different environment (downtown high rise vs suburban single story with a yard.

Reply
Ian Usher -

Hi Terri,
It sounds like the change of environment might be a big part of the problem. Is he getting out and getting enough exercise? If dogs are cooped up for too long they can get very hyper, which can give the owner some challenges.
Take a look at this page, which deals specifically with dogs with emotional issues:
https://housesittingmagazine.com/DogProblemsSolved
Hope this helps,
Good luck.
Ian

Reply
Leigh -

Hi Ian,

Does the advice above also apply to a older dog?

Our dog has always stayed in the family home and there has always been someone home as my mother doesn’t work. Now that I’ve just moved out with my partner and the dog the dog is home for many hours per day on it’s own while we are at work.
The dogs always been an outside dog and we have continued this trend but our neighbour has recently just informed us that the dog barks continuously during the day while we aren’t at home.

Can you please assist us with ways to try and rectify this issue

Reply
Ian Usher -

Hi Leigh,
I think, a bit like people, the older a dog gets the more they can become stuck in their ways. But they are still a pack animal at heart.
If things have recently changed in your dog’s regular routine, and he/she is suddenly being left alone for long periods of time, then this can be a cause of stress, or even separation anxiety. See this post on the topic for further reading:
https://housesittingmagazine.com/dog-separation-anxiety-training/
Barking when you are away for the day could be because your dog thinks his pack has left. If he feels he is in the position of pack leader, he is perhaps trying to call his pack back.
I suggest you take a look at Doggy Dan’s website. He has some great videos on dog psychology, and how to be a strong pack leader for your dog. This is the key to solving most problems.
Most of what I have learned has come from Doggy Dan. I think you’ll like the way he connects with dogs.
https://HouseSittingMagazine.com/DoggyDan
Best wishes,
Ian

Reply
Amanda -

I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he barks and whines A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Reply
Ian Usher -

Hi Amanda,
Thanks for the question. The secret is to become pack leader for your dog.
Once he knows his place in the “pack” (your family) he will be much happier, and will bark and whine much less.
And yes, you’re right, “doggy school” can be very expensive.
The link in the article to “Doggy Dan’s” website is probably the most cost effective way to learn all about becoming the pack leader.
You can watch his set of four intro videos for free, and also take a 3-day subscription to see everything he has to offer for just $1.
He also has an extensive set of videos on training a puppy.
https://housesittingmagazine.com/DoggyDan
You’ll learn so much.
Good luck with your puppy.
Ian

Reply

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