Noisy Barking Dogs – Are They Less Happy Than Quiet Dogs?

  • Are barking dogs born noisy, or were they made noisy by lack of training, management, and exercise?
  • Do noisy dogs bark because they are unhappy?
  • Are quiet dogs generally happy and more content?

I currently have two Siberian Huskies. Huskies are known for their night-time howling, which generally will not endear you to your neighbors.

Are Noisy Barking Dogs Born or Made?

My older Sibe Shania (3.5 years old), is a very quiet dog. She was born quiet and will only vocalize under very limited circumstances. In particular, she sings when she hears high pitched squeaky sounds like those coming from a squeaky soft toy. Small dogs that have high pitched barks or squeals can also get her to start vocalizing.

She stops when I tell her to – she was also born with a very sweet temperament. Shania has been this way since puppy-hood.

My younger Sibe Lara(6 months old), is a more noisy dog. She naturally likes to vocalize and she has a large range of vocal stylings including regular barks, howls, whines, and this very cute grumbling noise that she makes when she doesn’t get what she wants.

There is definitely a genetic component to the noisy dog syndrome.

However, we can also train our quiet dogs to bark more and to bark on command. Similarly, we can teach our noisy dogs to stop barking and redirect their energies into positive and enjoyable activities.

Are Quiet Dogs Happier Than Noisy Barking Dogs?

Usually, we associate quiet dogs with happiness and contentment. On the other hand, noisy barking dogs are thought to be aggressive, untrained, and unhappy.

Is this true? Are barking dogs less happy than their quiet counterparts?

Quiet dogs that only bark on rare occasions are generally easier to live with and handle. They do not bother the neighbors, and they seem less insistent with their needs because the verbal component is not present.

When Husky Shania wants something, she will come over to me and put her head on my lap. If I ignore her, she settles down by my feet and patiently waits until I am ready.

Did I already mention that Shania is sugar and spice and everything nice? 😀

However, Shania is also very quiet when she is not feeling well. One time, she had an allergic reaction to an insect bite, and her whole face swelled up. This is dangerous if not treated in a timely manner as it can cause gagging, breathing, and swallowing issues.

When this happened, Shania did not make a single sound. Instead, she went upstairs to rest and recuperate in her crate. I knew something was wrong because she usually likes staying downstairs with the whole pack. We checked her out, and immediately took her to the vet.

Just because a dog is quiet does not mean that she is happy, and it does not mean that everything is well. Quiet dogs simply communicate in other ways, and it is up to us to listen to their silent language.

Are Noisy Dogs Aggressive, Untrained, and Unhappy?

Dogs that are born noisy have a natural tendency to bark or vocalize in a wide variety of situations. My Husky puppy Lara barks when she is excited, she grumbles when she is frustrated, and sometimes she uses her patented puppy warcry when she is afraid or unsure.

It is much harder to train her to stay quiet because her natural instinct is to vocalize.

However, Lara is a pretty well-temperamented and happy puppy. In fact, she barks most when she is excited and playing with Shania and Shiba Inu Sephy.

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons including excitement, boredom, and simply to get our attention. They may also bark when they are frustrated, fearful, or stressed. These are the instances where the vocalization may be followed up by a bite, especially if the dog continues to feel threatened and has no other way of escape.

We can tell whether a dog is in an aggressive state by context, and by looking at the entire body of the dog. Some key signs of aggression may include raised hackles, stiff body posture, an unblinking stare, tight lips, and exposed front teeth.

However, barking alone does not necessarily mean that the dog is aggressive or stressed.

How to Stop Dog Barking

There are a variety of techniques to help reduce dog barking.

  • Teach our dog to “Speak” and stay “Quiet” on command.
  • Get our dog to do something else when he starts to bark.
  • Remove our dog from the trigger object or event that causes his barking.
  • Keep our dog busy and well exercised. It is less likely for a busy and tired dog to bark as a result of boredom or frustration.

Some people use anti-bark collars to stop their noisy dogs. However, doing so only suppresses the bark symptom rather than addressing the root of the barking behavior, e.g. the fear, frustration, or boredom.

In addition, anti-bark shock collars have many risks. Scientific studies show that shock collars may increase dog aggression and stress, thereby reducing quality of life.

Another very controversial ‘fix‘ for excessive barking is to surgically debark the dog. As with anti-bark collars, this procedure only deals with the noise and not with the cause of the behavior.

When dogs bark, they are trying to communicate with us.

Therefore, a much better way to stop dog barking is to identify why and what is causing our dog to bark. Then, we can address those triggers and not only reduce dog barking for the long-term, but also improve our dog’s quality of life.

For example, if our dog is fearful of other dogs and barks at them, we can slowly desensitize our dog to other dogs by helping him re-associate dogs with positive and rewarding outcomes.

Are Noisy Barking Dogs Less Happy Than Quiet Dogs?

Noisy barking dogs are not necessarily less happy than quiet dogs, they are simply more vocal about their needs.

The answer to noisy dogs is not to shock and surgically remove their voice. Rather, we want to listen to what they are saying and help them fulfill those needs.

After all, dogs do an excellent job at listening to us and fulfilling our needs. We should at least try to listen to them, and give back some of the happiness and joy that they so freely give to us.

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  1. Kristen says

    Hi there,

    I have an estimated year old Husky/Shepherd cross. She picks up on her training very quickly and is such a sweetheart. But she has a habit of crying and whining at me for prolonged periods. Example, the other day I walked her for a total of almost 2 hours, played with her, gave her attention, but she still cried and cried. She’s not in pain, she’s not away from me or in her crate, but she would not stop crying.

    Do you have any ideas of what I should be doing? I do ignore it, I’ve ignored her crying at my bedroom door for almost an hour one time. I’ve tried crating her, but I’m going to start putting her in the bathroom as per your suggestion of a “boring, quiet room” instead of her crate.

    Many people suggest a lack of exercise or being crated as the problem, but like I said, she was walked for almost 2 hours and was not in her crate. I’m really at a loss for what I should be doing.

    Any ideas?

    • shibashake says

      How long have you had her? Has she always shown this behavior? What are the common elements/context that cause the crying behavior? E.g. does she usually do it when she is alone? In a different room? At a particular time of the day? When you are in the same room but not giving her attention?

      What do you do when she cries? Have you tried putting the behavior under command control, e.g. teaching her the Quiet command?

      Does she have a fixed daily routine? What is her daily routine like? What are the house rules? What type of training is she used to? How is she with new dogs and new people?

      In terms of time-outs, I only do that for more serious misbehaviors. For whining, I first try to figure out what is triggering the behavior. There are many reasons why a dog may vocalize, and I respond based on the source of the behavior. For example, dogs may sometimes vocalize because of anxiety, e.g. separation anxiety. In this case, I want to do desensitization exercises to help my dog better cope with her anxiety. I *do not* use timeouts or other types of punishment here, as that may worsen her anxiety and anxiety symptoms.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation are different. How I respond, is also very dependent on the situation and where the behavior is coming from. When I was having problems with my Shiba Inu, I consulted with several professional trainers, who helped me with reading my dog’s body language and identifying the root causes of his misbehaviors. Once I better understand where his behavior is coming from, I can come up with an effective plan for retraining the behavior.

      More on how I deal with bad dog behavior.

  2. Cherish says

    I recently adopted a 6 month old siberian husky. His name is Teegan. He is very well mannered and only barks when he has to go to the bathroom. Recently, we were at the dog park alone until two other dogs, different breed but relatively same size, showed up. Teegan barked at the other dogs. I couldn’t tell if it was playful or aggressive. Any ideas or suggestions?

  3. J.Kim says

    I have three dogs, two are mix dogs and the other is siberian husky. My husky is over 5years old. She got very agreesive recently. She came my home when she was 2month. She was quiet and nice to everyone. But after she grew up big and brought small mix dog, she and one of mix dog are barking excessively. I can’t make them stop barking. Even my husky try to bite family.
    I live on countryside, here is no dog trainer. I want to make her good behavior dog. Could you give some advice for me?
    Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      What type of training are the dogs used to? What is the daily routine of the dogs? How much exercise and people time do the dogs get?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent. There are many reasons why dogs bark, there are many reasons why dogs bite, and there are many levels of biting. This is why getting help from a trainer is usually recommended. A trainer was able to help me with reading my dog’s body language, with timing, technique, and more.

      If there is no possibility of getting a trainer, then we will need to get the information through books, articles, etc.

      More on how I deal with bad dog behavior.
      More on where I get dog training and dog behavior information.

    • Anonymous says

      First of all generally speaking huskies prefer other huskies over other dogs. Many huskies do not get on well with small dogs. Your husky is unhappy about something you as pack leader need to find out what is causing her to be unbalanced. My guess is it has something to do with either she feels insecure or she dislikes the others. The barking is about getting attention. When my husky wants something she will bark and bark till she gets what she wants or simply gives up. If I ignore her barking I will hear that sigh I call it the husky sigh. She acts so frustrated when I ignore her. Biting family is very bad and you need to find out what is going on but if all was well before the other dogs then perhaps that is the root of the problem.

  4. Rhonda says

    Do your Shibas do that strange “blah blah blah” thing at the end of their barking? When our Lucky does this, it seems that it tastes bad for him to bark! He recently has become more vocal when gettting attention with the whines and little noises he makes.

    • shibashake says

      LOL! That sounds really cute.

      Sephy doesn’t usually do that, but the Sibes do. Sephy, I think, likes practicing his soprano voice. When we all sing, he usually hits high notes and belts it out with great power.

      His war cries (sounds he makes while playing) are also high-pitched and very cute. Not very manly, but very cute. 😀

  5. eddiesmom says

    eddie is 4 but seriously hes very vocal last winter the police was actually called they thought i was in possesion of a wild animal,being a wolf (morons). But thats only because eddie was so excited with the snow that he let out a howl. but he makes whinning noises when he sees other dogs and when my husband comes home from work. he also sings with his daddy it too funny and iam way to familiar with the huffing and grumbling he usually huffs when hes playing keep away with me lol they are a funny breed

    • shibashake says

      he also sings with his daddy it too funny

      Hahaha, that is awesome. I love it when my Sibes sing. They have a lovely voice that is very melodious. My Shiba also joins in, but he usually only hits one high note. What he lacks in melody though, he makes up for in volume! 😀

  6. BrettB says

    Ziva the Shiba girl barks only occasionally, mostly when she thinks someone’s at the door or walking outside in her territory. The rest of the time she makes a variety of noises, and if she’s excited enough she will actually “talk”, which is made up of whines, grumbles, and this weird huffing noise. I like the fact that she’s got a wide range of sounds to express herself.

    • shibashake says

      Hey Brett,
      Good to see you. Big hugs to Ziva!
      It is adorable that she has such a range of vocal stylings. Sephy mainly sticks to his whines when he wants someone to open the door, his barks when he feels that his castle is under attack, and his silly war-cries during play.

      Puppy Lara actually has the greatest range of sounds including the grumbling sound that you mention as well as the huffing sound. Both are extremely precious.

      Is Ziva done with her shedding? 😀

  7. Kim L. says

    Ah, a subject near and dear to my heart. Fred is a lusty barker, has been all his life, born and bred in the suburbs, a JR terrier mix. Now that he lives in the Big City 🙁 he still loves to bark at the sight of any other dog. He is 10 1/2 and not going to change much. I use food to distract him, which can work. I just make sure that we are out only during socially acceptable hours, to avoid complaints! Fred actually seems to really like his bouts of barking – sigh! Such an excellent dog INSIDE the home! Inside, he rarely barks at all.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Kim. So good to see you.
      Sounds like Fred is doing very well. 😀

      I think dogs should bark sometimes – it is fun for them and really not that big a deal for us. We contribute a lot more to noise pollution than our dogs ever could.

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