Barking at home
English Bull Terriers and most other breeds in general are all more or less territorial. This territory usually is the home and often adjacent areas (porch, yard etc.)
Because of their excellent hearing they often “go off” without any noticeable trigger at home.
Learn more about a dog’s hearing in these two posts:
Did you hear this? – Interesting dog facts about how dogs hear
Interesting dog facts about dog’s ears
This kind of barking is usually intended to notify the family of threats and on the other hand notify other dogs and strangers of the dog’s presence.
Especially if the triggers are noises outside (cars, other dogs, people …) we usually have a hard time to identify them first and usually no influence on removing those triggers. Otherwise we could just take them away and stop the barking that way.
Sometimes dogs bark for attention, for example, if they need “to go” or if they get bored and try to “call” for someone.
Boredom or a lack of physical exercise and mental challenges can cause the barking to become more excessive.
Once in that excited state the dog uses this as an outlet in the form of seemingly endless barking, often accompanied by agitated behavior.
Enough exercise – and calming
Consequently, enough exercise and mental challenges will help to lower the general energy and excitement levels of the dog. “Enough” in this case means sufficient to drain the energy and avoid boredom, but not so much that the dog remains on a high excitement level all day long.
Dogs who are bored, do not only easily become destructive and noisy, desperately trying to fill theirs days with some action. Enough exercise – especially for high energy dogs, such as Bull Terriers – is also vital for their mental and physical health.
Bored dogs can develop OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Behavior) symptoms, which are very hard to control. One example is “spinning” or excessive licking (yap, not only allergies can trigger that) – both sadly often watched in English Bull Terriers. But also excessive barking CAN turn out to be an OCD symptom.
This can make a dog harder to control and the barking as well.
As always the truth lies in the middle and a good ratio is key.
Some owners misinterpret the exercise needs of their dogs in the other direction and think “more helps more”, and as a consequence by this keep their dogs on a constantly high excitement level with too much exercise.
The strategy to wear a dog out by exercising it until it drops and falls asleep, can’t work. The exercise not only drains energy. Many dogs already bring more strength and resilience than the owner is able to equal into the relationship from the start. And while exercise indeed drains the dog’s energy for a while, at the same time it trains the dog’s body and continuously raises the bar – an upwards spiral that hardly any owner can compete with in terms of exercising until tired.
Besides, this strategy is also not free of risks, because in some dogs the control mechanisms that should stop them before physical harm is caused from exhaustion are pretty weak and easily overruled by excitement. There have been dogs that have literally exercised until they dropped dead, because of organ failure.
Some of the very agile and active dogs are having difficulties to “come down” after exercise. For these dogs therefore additional calming exercises and routines are just as valuable as enough exercise and can even help with the barking issues.
Some owners try to stop their dog’s barking by shouting at them. That can work for a second, because it startles and distracts the dog. But, after that moment it’s often likely to ignite even more barking. Especially if the dog is not able to interpret the owner’s voice and facial expression correctly. Because many dogs don’t necessarily equal a loud human voice with anger or disapproval unless they know exactly what disapproval means.
Another lesson they need to learn in everyday life before this can be applied successfully and without room for misunderstandings.
They are being loud for the most different reasons themselves. So how should they know?
Some seem to think that the humans are “also barking” when they shout and feel rather reinforced by that to continue the barking.
Read more about remedy no. 2 “un-barking” your dog on the next page.