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The Mysterious Reasons Your Dog Barks at Thin Air

Sometimes your dog’s excessive barking will frustrate you when it seems like it is doing it for no reason. There are a lot of assumptions by so-called experts as to why dogs can’t stop this strange behavior. Why do dogs bark at nothing?

Some trainers believe it’s your pet’s way of getting your attention, while others concoct scary conspiracy theories claiming dogs can see ghosts with a sixth sense humans don’t possess. 

While no evidence supports the ghost theory, we can indeed say there must be a reason behind the barking. It’s our little critters’ best method to let you know what it wants, and our duty as the master is to decipher the message behind the barking to decide how we can help.

This guide will talk about how our dogs understand the world around them versus how humans do. The correct answer will help us figure out why dogs bark, or we may come to figure out it’s for nothing. 

big white dog barking why do dogs bark at nothing

Difference Between Human Hearing and Dog Hearing

A person’s ear can expect to catch frequencies of 20 to 20,000 Hertz. The definition of Hertz is the pulsing of frequencies every second of a specific sound. Dogs have different hearing levels because they can listen to higher frequencies.

However, research also predicts that large dogs like Saint Bernards can hear low frequencies.  Dogs can spot frequencies anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 Hertz. They can hear this far by having the ability to bend their ears in the direction where the sound is coming from, but humans don’t have this ability. 

For instance, your dog can hear the minuscule sounds a mouse makes inside your walls or another walking from a far distance. Keep the above in mind when you think your dog is barking for no reason because it might be trying to warn you about something you can’t hear with limited human abilities. 

brown and white dog barking on lawn

Human Smell Vs. Dog Smelling Abilities

Dogs also take the win when comparing who has the most olfactory receptors. Humans have 5 to 6 million, while your furry friend has over 220 million. With this number, they can smell everything you’re cooking even when they are in your basement with the doors locked.

For instance, if you are cooking a steak, they can identify the exact ingredients, like salt or pepper, that you used to season your meal. There are also articles written by experts that claim your pet can smell you from 10 to 12 miles away, which is why they are always by the door when you arrive.

shiny dog nose in focus

Since dogs’ smelling abilities are so sharp, they’re indispensable for sniffing out drugs, flammable materials, and low blood sugar, and they can help when you are having a seizure. Dogs have this phenomenal ability because they save 40% the space in their brain for scent detection than we do. 

With such acute smelling abilities, it’s understandable why they bark at things we can’t hear or understand. 

Why Do Dogs Bark at Nothing? 7 Possible Reasons

Let’s go over some reasons why your furry friend might be barking.

1. Far Away Noises

If you live near a highway, your dog may go mad barking all day, even when the road is a long distance away. It’s their way of letting you know there may be danger coming your way. 

brown and white dog barking

2. Defensive Or Territorial Barking

Dogs are territorial beasts and will do whatever it takes to protect the place they call home. The two most common reasons dogs bark at others are to warn the other animal coming their way or to defend their turf to keep it safe from an invasion. 

Also, barking enhances the space your pet perceives as its domain. It’s why they never stop barking at other critters in your yard, like rabbits, raccoons, and birds. But friendly dogs bark for another reason: to summon the animal to them for a pleasant interaction. 

Extra Tip: To ensure your dog is comfortable around everyone, making it socialize when it’s six months or younger will decrease aggression when it’s an adult. 

brown border collie barking

3. Attention

There’s always that dog in the neighborhood that everyone dislikes because of incessant barking. Do you think it could be lacking attention? Unfortunately, it’s usually the case. 

Most dogs bark when they need love. The easiest way to tell is if it’s looking you in the eyes when it’s barking—all it needs is some attention to feel wanted. 

4. Separation Anxiety

Dogs were pack animals in the wild and still carry those needs as domesticated pets. In a home without other dogs, you are the pack leader. When their leader ignores them, barking is the only way to get closer to him. If barking is ineffective, they revert to more desperate acts like destroying furniture, peeing indoors, or running. 

brown dog barking

Extra Tip: If your career is demanding and you are not home often, your dog will suffer from separation anxiety. It’s best to find your pet a dog sitter or talk with its veterinarian for professional advice. 

5. Pain

A canine that is injured or hurt will bark a lot. It’s the only way to let you know it’s in pain and needs help. Barking becomes even more critical if you are in a different room, and being loud is the only way you will notice. It might be why you see your pet running around in circles without understanding. 

6. Disorientation

Aging pets will wander around your home looking lost and barking loudly because they are confused. We recommend you take your dog to its veterinarian if this is the case to see if there is anything you can do to ease its disorientation. 

7. Dread

Scared dogs bark to bluff the other animal they are threatened by to keep them at a distance. It’s easy to identify a dog when it’s afraid by studying body language. For example, your dog’s ears will slope downwards and tuck its tail under its hind legs. 

german shepherd dog barking

The best way to solve a behavioral issue like this is to put your pet in canine behavior training with a dog expert. If you want to do it on your own, learn how to conduct classes correctly, and the barking should stop after a month. 

5 Ways To Try to Decrease Excessive Barking

Barking is a communication method dogs use, but it takes time for people to decipher the meaning behind the call for help. Below are a few things you can try to decode the meaning behind the barking faster, and if you still can’t figure it out, visit a professional immediately. 

1. Disqualify Medical Problems

The first objective is to ensure your dog is not barking because it’s in pain or injured. It’s a possibility that the medical issues could be psychological due to separation anxiety, so rule out physical problems first. Then take it to your veterinarian or someone with a license in Applied Animal Behaviors for helpful advice. 

2. Decode the Barking

Different types of barking have sounds that vary depending on the situation. For instance, tonality differs when your canine is barking because of excitement or fighting over turf in your yard. Watching them daily helps you figure out which social situations they need help with the most. 

If you still can’t come up with an idea that makes sense about your dogs barking, understand they are probably hearing something you can’t because of their listening frequency levels. It will often lead you to the noise source if you train it correctly. Always keep your eyes open until you find what makes your dog bark. 

profile of dog barking

3. Exercise

Taking your canine out for a walk every morning and night will help eliminate extra energy that makes them feel bored. Boredom drives a dog wild and makes it bark a lot. Some exercise ideas you can try with your dog are walking in the park and playing games like fetch with a bone. Then, once it feels tired, it won’t make a peep. 

4. Play White Noise Sounds

Try playing white noise tracks from a mobile app or YouTube, which will help with the noises your dogs can hear outside your home. White noise reduces distracting sounds that humans and dogs dislike, so they can sleep without being disturbed. 

5. Experiment with Pheromone Diffusers

Pheromone diffusers soothe the nerves of dogs in new environments that feel scary or unfamiliar, which causes them to bark relentlessly. Adding a calming pheromone will diffuse your canine’s nerves so it can feel safe in a new home with positive vibes. After trying this method, you will not have issues with loud barking again. 

rottweiler dog barking

Things You Can Try When Trying to Decrease Barking

If used correctly, bark collars can effectively teach dogs to stop barking without hurting them. If you try the citronella collars that squirt citronella at your pet, your dog may well stop barking after a week of wearing them. The best way for this to work is by emptying the small canister on the collar. 

Some owners think that the barking will stop by screaming at their dogs, but it’s not true. It’s ineffective because all we’re doing is barking back, which gets them more excited. When disciplining your dog, remain stoic and use the above-mentioned strategies instead of screaming at the top of your lungs. 

white pomeranian dog barking

Summing It Up

You may think your dog is barking for no reason, but now you know that’s not always true. It could be a faraway sound we humans can’t hear or a smell beyond our olfactory abilities we can’t identify. It could also be that they are barking from loneliness or trying to warn you something dangerous is nearby.

So if you love your canine, your goal should always be to find out why and what you can do about it. And never forget to be patient and calm throughout this process!

goldendoodle puppy barking

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