If your dog has been barking when people leave home you might be wondering why and what you can do to get it to stop. This post will show you common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my dog bark when people leave? Possible reasons why your dog barks when people leave are separation anxiety, boredom, encouraging the behavior by giving it rewards when it does it, being fearful of something, hunger or wanting to pee.
There are actually many reasons why your dog might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are things you can consider to help figure out the main cause and there are things you can do to get it to stop.
Why your dog barks when people leave
Below are a number of common reasons why dogs do it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.
The cause might be that it has separation anxiety. This is where it does not like being left alone and it gets anxious when it is left alone. This would be more likely if your dog has started barking since you or other people have been leaving it for longer than usual and if it does it more when it is being left alone. It would also be more likely if it starts getting anxious when you normally leave home.
It might be worth following the tips given in this book on Amazon about dealing with dog separation anxiety. There are also more tips below.
The reason why it does it might be that it is bored and it wants exercise. This would be more likely if barks when the person that gives it exercise or plays with it is leaving and if it does it less after getting exercise. It would help to make sure that it is getting the recommended amount of daily exercise.
Encouraging the behavior
It might also be the case that the behavior has been encouraged. If you or someone else tends to give it things that it wants such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it starts barking, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards.
Instead, it would help to avoid rewarding it when it barks, to make sure that it is not barking due to things such as needing to pee and to follow the other tips below.
It might also be the case that something has been causing it to be fearful of people leaving. This is because it might fear someone from its pack leaving or because it doesn’t want to be left alone. It could also be the case that someone mistreats it when left alone which would be more likely if it avoids a certain person.
The reason why it does it might be that it is hungry. This would be more likely if barks when the person that feeds it is leaving and if it does it less after it has already been fed.
Wanting to pee
The cause might also be that it needs to pee. This would be more likely if it does it more when it is being left alone and it has not had the chance to pee yet.
Things to consider
Below are some things you can consider when figuring out why your dog has been doing it.
If it barks when anyone leaves or when specific people leave
It would help to consider if it barks when anyone leaves or when specific people leave.
If it barks when specific people leave, it would be more likely to be due to wanting to be fed, wanting exercise or because it has separation anxiety with those people. If it does it when anyone leaves, it would be more likely that it has learned that it gets rewards when it does it or that it fears people from its pack leaving it.
What else happened when your dog first started barking when people left
If it did not always bark when people leave, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as if it started being left alone for long periods, it started being fed later in the day or if it started getting less exercise.
What is different when your dog does not bark
If it does not always bark when people leave, it would also help to consider what is different when it does not do it.
For example, if it only does it before it has been fed, it might be doing it because it wants to be fed.
What to do about your dog barking when people leave
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage your dog to behave in a certain way by rewarding it for showing signs of behaving that way.
To use positive reinforcement training to get it to stop you could reward it when it does not bark when people are leaving and stop rewarding it when it starts barking. It is important to start giving it the treats before it starts barking so that you don’t encourage it to bark. Also, try to make it not bark for longer and longer periods before rewarding it.
Give it exercise
It would also help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed especially if it doesn’t bark after getting exercise.
Feed it before leaving
It would also help to make sure that it is getting the right amount of calories for its age, breed and activity levels. If it is currently having to wait a long time to be fed it might also help to feed it earlier in the mornings or evenings.
Let it pee before leaving
It would also help to make sure that it gets a chance to pee before being left alone so that it does not have to wait a long time to be able to pee.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that the behavior has been encouraged. Instead of giving it rewards when it barks, it would help to reward it when it does not bark, to give it positive reinforcement training and to ensure that it is not doing it due to things such as needing to pee or hunger.
Try to reduce its separation anxiety
It is likely that it barks because of having some separation anxiety. As a result, it would help to take measures to reduce how anxious is becomes when you or someone else is leaving it alone.
To do this you could do as follows:
- Make it seem like you are about to leave by doing something such as picking up your keys
- Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat these two steps a few times
- Make more moves towards actually leaving such as by picking up the keys and putting your hand on the door handle
- Reward your dog for not being anxious and repeat the process a few times
- Actually open the door and go outside for a few moments then come back and reward your dog
- Repeat the above, each time staying outside for slightly longer
It might be worth following the tips given in this book on Amazon about dealing with dog separation anxiety.
Give it distractions while people are leaving
In addition to the above, you could also give it things to be distracted with when people are leaving. Things you could give it might include toys, bones or treats while it is not barking.
If you cannot get it to stop doing it, one option would be to get help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. By doing so, you should be able to see what has been causing the behavior and how to get it to stop.