Why Is My Dog Barking At Nothing?

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Updated: October 15, 2022
Image Credit Annette Shaff/Shutterstock.com
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Sometimes dogs do weird things. One of those weird things would be barking at nothing. This is something that dogs do sometimes, and when it happens it can not only annoy us but also freak us out.
Ever wondered what your dog could be barking at? Read on to learn more about this peculiar behavior.

Dogs bark as a form of communication. This is one of the many ways that they interact with the world around them. It’s normal to see a dog bark at other dogs in passing or at the mailman as he delivers your mail.

But when you catch your dog barking at absolutely nothing, it can be quite unsettling. Are they really barking at nothing, or is there something there that we cannot see?

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It’s actually not uncommon for dogs to seemingly bark at nothing. But that doesn’t make it any less strange. Fortunately, there are a few reasons why this could be happening, none of which include ghosts or the supernatural.

Sometimes dogs may bark due to stress or anxiety. In which case, you may want to ask your vet about using a certified CBD oil to help calm them down.

Some high-energy breeds of dogs require a ton of exercise. If these dogs don’t get enough, they can lash out and demand your attention—this includes them barking continuously.

Making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise by taking them out for regular walks is not only good for its health but can also reduce the amount of barking it does.

On your next walk, try using a hands-free dog leash, which is great for hiking or going for a run. If you’re unable to go for a walk or if the weather is bad, be sure to have plenty of interactive toys to keep your dog occupied and happy.

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1. Animals Nearby

This is one of the most common reasons why it may seem as though your dog is barking at nothing. We might be unaware of the animal’s presence, but our dogs can sense them.

This could be anything from a loose dog roaming the neighborhood, to a wild rabbit that lives on your property. Dogs can sense the presence of these creatures before we ever have the chance to see them.

If it picks up on a nearby animal, it may stare out of the window (seemingly at nothing) and begin barking into the distance. This is actually done to warn the animal to stay away from their territory.

So if you never actually see the animal yourself, it might mean that your dog was able to keep it away.

2. Strange Sounds

Unlike us, dogs aren’t always able to tell right away what the cause of a specific sound was. We might hear a loud boom and immediately tie it to the sound of thunder or perhaps the garbage truck is nearby.

Our dogs aren’t always able to do this. So any strange sound they hear is automatically a cause for concern to them. And they have really good hearing, so they may be picking up on a small sound that we can’t hear as easily as they can.

Some examples include the wind, the small squeak of a mouse, or even a car driving down the road.

New sounds in new places can also be overwhelming for dogs. If you’ve recently moved into a new place like an apartment, your dog may be picking up on sounds from your neighbors that you might not be able to hear as well as they do.

Some examples include footsteps, the sound of clanking pots and pans as they prepare dinner, or maybe even another dog. If you’re not hearing these sounds as well as they do, it might look like they’re barking at nothing.

3. Lack of Attention

Extra vocal dogs may verbally express their discontent if they’re not receiving enough love and attention from you. This is one of their best ways of getting your attention if they feel like they’ve been ignored.

Barking can be seen as attention-seeking behavior, as it’s possible that your dog has learned from experience that barking results in the attention that it wants. If the barking really is unprovoked or sounds frantic, they could be doing this to get your attention for something they want. The dog might be hungry or want another treat.

Rewarding your dog more often with healthy dog treats may be one way to reduce barking.

It’s also common for dogs to bark when they’re trying to let you know that they need to use the bathroom. Try taking your dog outside for a bathroom break, even if you just took it out recently. Sometimes a dog may need to use the bathroom more frequently if a new food has been recently introduced into their diet or if there is an underlying medical issue. If you notice your dog is needing more bathroom breaks than normal, be sure to let your vet know to rule out any potential health issues.

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4. Medical Conditions

On the topic of medical issues, there are some that can cause a dog to bark more often than what’s considered normal—and seemingly at nothing. Some medical conditions cause cognitive dysfunction within dogs which causes them to bark more.

Other conditions can cause a lot of pain for your dog and this may lead to it barking more as a way to alert you to the pain that it’s in. Some medical conditions can also bring up anxiety in your dog that might be expressed as increased barking.

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How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Barking?

Considering that you’ve ruled out a potential medical condition, there are a few things you can do to get your dog to stop barking so much. The first thing that you can do is limit distractions. If you notice that your dog tends to bark out of the window often, consider blocking off their view. Besides the obvious solution of closing the curtains (which you may not want to do if it’s a lovely day), you can put something in front of the window that blocks the dog’s view. If your dog can no longer see out of the window, he will likely not bark as much, unless there is still something that your dog hears.

You can also train your dog with certain commands. This option takes a bit more time and patience, since training your dog is a process. But when it comes to training a dog, the owners that are the most consistent are the ones that see the most success.

The best way to do this is to redirect your dog’s barking whenever it does occur, and then reward them for their silence when they stop. You can redirect your dog’s barking by asking them to perform a command, which takes their attention away from what they were barking at. Some examples of commands you could use include; calling them to their bed, to their bowl, or simply removing your attention from them by exiting the room. Be sure to reward them for their behavior when they stop barking and they’ll begin to associate obeying you with a positive outcome.

If you’ve tried all of these things and nothing seems to help, remember that dogs love activity. As we mentioned before, keeping them active can make a world of a difference when it comes to their behavior. Letting them go on walks with you can burn up a lot of excess energy that they may have stored, so by the time they get back home, all they want to do is curl up with you and relax. Keeping plenty of engaging toys on hand can also help burn up energy in a positive way when you’re unable to go on a walk with them.

If your dog has a hard time relaxing or always seems wired, talk to your vet about introducing CBD oil to help them remain calm.

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dog barking at nothing
Border collie barking with a wide open mouth.
Annette Shaff/Shutterstock.com
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Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.

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