Why Do Dogs Bark At Nothing? Here’s How You Stop It

While no one should expect a dog never to bark, some dogs tend to bark excessively. If that is a problem in your home, then you should first figure out what’s the cause of too much barking. Unfortunately, as much as it may sound easy to determine the cause of the barking, this is not always the case. Therefore, I did some research as to why dogs bark at nothing and easy ways to stop it.

So, why do dogs bark at nothing? As discussed below, there are many reasons why dogs bark at nothing including attention-seeking to get rewards like toys, frustration, greeting barking, illness, injury, etc. Some owners can quickly identify the reason why their dogs are barking by listening to the specific type of barking. 

However, it can be hard at times to pinpoint the cause of the barking, which makes solving the unexplained barking a bit difficult. With consistency or the help of a licensed dog, training your dog is possible and becomes manageable. Bear in mind that some dog breeds are more prone to barking than others. 

Although it might be tempting to use noise-canceling headphones to ignore your barking dog, it is not right. Instead, you need to figure out why they are barking and work from there. However, do not expect a quick fix; your goal should be to reduce the amount of barking rather than eliminate it. Still wondering why your dog barks at nothing? Keep reading to find out.

What Does It Mean If Your Dog Won’t Stop Barking At Nothing?

While barking by dogs is entirely normal, and it is their primary form of communication, the reasons for barking are not always obvious. Most of the time, it seems as if they are barking at nothing, making you think they are crazy or just being stubborn.

Dogs will smell, hear, feel and see that humans wouldn’t. However, some of them may develop an issue when their barking is tolerated or if their reasons for barking are from a specific need. But first…

Why Do Dogs Bark?

Barking is one of the most common communication types that dogs use, and depending on the situation, it can mean different things. As mentioned earlier, there are many ways why dogs bark, and here are other reasons you should note:


Dogs don’t like being left alone for long periods, whether outside or in the house. They quickly get bored, become sad, and often bark or become destructive.

Being Protective

Image from Ollie

When another animal or a human comes into a place where the dog considers their territory, then this will trigger excessive barking. The barking gets louder as the threat gets closer.

Seek Attention

Sometimes dogs bark when they want something, for example, a treat or going outside.

Alarm Or Fear

Some dogs will bark at any object or noises that startle them, and this can happen anywhere.

Greetings Or Play

Dogs will also bark as a way to greet people or other animals. This is often accompanied by excitable jumping and tail wags.

Separation Anxiety

Dogs with separation anxiety will often bark excessively when left alone. They usually exhibit other symptoms as well, such as pacing, destructiveness, depression, and inappropriate elimination.

Compulsive Barking

Compulsive barkers will bark just to hear the sounding of their voices. They will make repetitive movements as well, such as running in circles or along a fence.


When a dog tries to do something, for example, going up a fence but is unable to, it tends to bark, sometimes excessively as frustration grows.

A Potential Health Issue

If your dog barks excessively, it won’t hurt to visit a veterinarian because a health problem will sometimes be the reason for unexplained barking. When dogs are sick or in pain, they bark in response to it. Visit your vet to rule out the medical cause.

Why Does My Dog Bark At Nothing On Walks?

When dogs are barking during their walk, it’s mostly because you’re not following the rules of social engagement. This only makes your dog feel insecure and stressed and leads to barking.

Some other reasons why dogs may bark during their walks include they are happy, protective, attention seeking or sometimes hurting. Most of the time, you can tell the cause of the barking by the pitch, speed and volume of barking.

What Does It Mean When Your Dog Barks At Nothing At Night?

There are often some good reasons why your dog is barking at night. While you may think your dog is barking at nothing, night barking is not an unusual behavior. Some dog breeds are more prone to night barking than others.

Here are some reasons why your dog may bark at night:

  • At night, noises tend to be more prominent because of less background noises. For some critters, nighttime is when they become more active, for example, bats, beavers, mice, raccoons, and even cats. While you may not be aware of the critters, you can be sure your dog does.
  • Other distant noises your dog is able to detect will include slamming car doors, noisy trash cans, helicopter sound, police sirens at a distance, etc. You may not be able to detect these distant noises, but your dog definitely can.
  • When your dog’s needs, for example, social companionship, exercise, and mental stimulation, are not met at night, they tend to engage in problematic behaviors like barking at night.
  • Loneliness or separation anxiety will cause your dog to start barking and other destructive behaviors.
  • When your dog hears other dogs’ barking.

What Do You Do When Your Dog Barks At Nothing?

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do when the dog is excessively barking, which means solving the unexplained barking becomes a challenge. If the dog barks for attention, then all you have to do is ignore and pretend the barking is not happening. But this is not always the case.

So, here are some tips to consider when you feel like your dog is barking at nothing:

  • Ensure the dog gets enough exercise and all the other needs have been met.
  • Playing some white noise in the background may also help reduce the barking.
  • If you recently got a dog and it’s having a hard time adapting to new smells, you can use a pheromone diffuser.
Image from Pet Plate

Dogs tend to bark way less when they are allowed to stay in the house with their owners rather than being kept in the yard the whole day without their owners. This is because they are pack animals which means they thrive in human companionship.

While the above tips may help stop barking, it is crucial to put some effort into finding out why your dog is barking so as to help reduce the barking.

Finding the root of the barking problem is essential as barking is one of the ways the dog communicates that something might be amiss.

Don’t scold your dog for barking because you may later find out that there is a reasonable excuse why they did so.

Do Dogs Get Tired Of Barking?

Yes, dogs do get tired of barking, and it may take a while for them to stop barking eventually. If they think that no one, including other dogs, is not listening to them, they may become frustrated and mentally exhausted. As the barking continues, they will eventually become physically tired.

How Do I Stop My Dog Barking At Nothing?

Stopping the dog from barking at nothing is not always an easy task, especially when you’re not aware of why the dog is barking. So, here are a few tips for scaling your efforts as you try to control your dog’s barking.

Ignore The Barking

If you think that your dog is barking for attention, ignoring them for as long as possible will help stop the barking. Be sure not to touch them, talk to them, or even look at them. Giving them attention will only reward them for being noisy.

Reward Them When They Keep Quiet

Image from Pet Plate

When they become quiet, even for a short period, reward them with a treat. Remember, timing is essential so ensure you’re quick to reward them when they are quiet. Don’t confuse and reward them when they are barking because it will only encourage them to continue barking.

Ask The Dog To Do Something Else

When your dog is barking, asking or commanding them to do something that is unrelated to barking might help stop barking. Train your dog to react to the barking stimuli with something that stops them from barking, for example, sitting down or lying down.

Keep Your Dog Tired

A tired dog is always a good dog and a quiet dog. Ensure your dog gets enough mental and physical exercise daily. This way, the dog is less likely to bark because of attention, boredom, or frustration. Depending on the dog breed, health, and age, your dog may need long walks of about one hour or a good play with some interactive toys.

Remove The Trigger

If your dog is barking at something, it will most likely not stop when you don’t remove the trigger. Try and figure out what is the triggering cause of the barking and remove it right away. Don’t encourage your dog to go on with the barking behavior.

Contact A Professional

If your dog won’t stop barking and your efforts have proven to be unsuccessful, then you should consider talking to a certified professional dog trainer. Sometimes, your dog may be having health issues, so it is also a great idea to contact your vet.

How Do I Tell My Dog To Shut Up?

While the dog is barking, you need to say “quiet” in a firm but calm voice. Remember, shouting will only encourage your dog to bark more because they think you are joining them. So, don’t yell.

However, you need to train your dog to understand the word “quiet.” When you tell them to shut, wait until they stop barking and praise them with a treat. Be careful not to reward them while they are still barking, and eventually, they realize to stop barking when you say the word “quiet” because they get to have a treat.

Alternatively, you can teach your dog a signal that helps stop barking. For example, you can say “quiet” while holding your finger on your lips. Generally, dogs will pick up signals faster than words. So, teach them the signals when they are calm, and in no time, they should learn to stop barking at your signal.

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Barking In Seconds?

To stop your dog from barking in a short time, you need to identify the cause of barking and try to solve it.

For example, if they are barking because of other dogs, people, or toys, then you need to remove the distractions or remove the dog away from the distractions.

If you can’t find the reason why the dog is barking, then ignoring the barking and rewarding periods of silence might help stop barking.

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Pete Decker