Why Does My Dog Bark at Nothing? 

Dog owners around the world are accustomed to hearing random barks from their canine friends. Sitting on your couch at night, you may hear your dog suddenly launch into a barking (or howling) fit at seemingly nothing. This is annoying or disconcerting, especially if you rely on your dog to alert you to danger.

As random as your dog’s barking may seem, there is usually a reason. Barking is your dog’s way of communication. The volume and pitch of his bark can often let you know the issue. If you listen closely, you may be able to figure out what your dog is trying to communicate based on the different barking sounds he makes.  

What are they trying to say?

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and some breeds are bred to bark. Your dog may be seeking your attention, bored, anxious, frustrated, greeting you, raising an alarm, or establishing/defending territory. What is your dog trying to tell you? Here’s a quick guide to help you better understand your furry companion’s barking.


Your dog wants your attention and may bark in hopes of getting more of it. Or he wants you to do something for him. Generally, he will look you in the eye along with this bark. To discourage this behavior, avoid looking your dog in the eye or responding.

Also, don’t speak to him to be quiet or yell at him to shut up–he is more likely to see this acknowledgement as approval or encouragement.


Most dog owners know this bark. Does your dog bark like he enjoys his own voice? This is usually a pup that is bored and trying to release excess energy. A tired dog is more likely to be a quiet dog so your dog would probably benefit from a nice walk.


This bark is loud and in your face. It definitely says, “I am FRUSTRATED! I’m no longer just bored. I am now mad and need to be heard!” This is a great time to leash up your pup and head outdoors for a little one-on-one time if possible to release the frustration.

Allowing your dog to bark to demand your actions will only increase the barking behavior. It is harder but better to train them. Use an authoritative “Quiet” command then reward him once he stops barking. Our expert ULPS training team can help.


Some dogs bark as a way to soothe themselves. You may hear your pup bark a very high pitch sound which may be accompanied by whining. If your dog has issues with separation anxiety or any other fear or phobia, this is the bark you’ll likely hear. It may be accompanied by walking in circles or pacing. In this case, it is okay to comfort him.


When our furry companions want to keep us safe, this is the bark that does alerts us. This is also the one that is likely to confuse us the most, and make us think our dogs are barking at nothing. A dog’s hearing is four times greater than ours and they can smell up to 100,000 times more accurately than we can. Your dog is probably hearing or smelling an animal walking around…but stay alert just in case. Your canine’s intense senses could be warning you of an intruder or that something is wrong.


Dogs are territorial and you may hear overly excited barking when someone comes to the door as he warns them to stay away. Or he may bark at another animal that dares to enter his yard. These barks are loud and authoritative. We can help you train him to remain quiet when guests arrive, or at least not get quite so excited.


This is bark that most pet owners don’t mind as much. The bark that says “I’m so happy that you’re home” or “I’m so excited to go play!”. You’ll often hear this upbeat, happy bark when you’re about to go for a walk or when you’re outside playing.

Dogs need their barks to be able to communicate their needs and what they are feeling. It’s important that we learn to listen to what they’re saying. And, as your protector, be aware that sometimes your dog’s barking at what seems like nothing could be cause for concern.

Feel free to contact us here at Union Lake Pet Services if you ever have questions about your pup’s barking or regarding training your dog to limit his barking. A happy pup is a healthier pup!