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Why Is My Boston Terrier Barking? (How to Stop It)

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Boston Terriers do not bark a lot, but they do use barking to communicate their emotions. Boston Terriers also bark when they are high on energy if they feel threatened, or when excited. Medical issues also cause barking.

While Boston Terriers aren’t known barkers, it does happen.

If you want to understand why your Boston Terrier is barking, this article reveals the reasons.

Learn their barking tendencies, how to identify the cause of their barking, and how to control the unwanted behavior.

Do Boston Terriers Bark a Lot?

No, Boston Terriers don’t bark a lot. Many dogs of this breed are quiet and rarely engage in barking. But, there are some situations that cause Boston terriers to bark, such as medical issues, emotional distress, or changes around them. 

Boston Terriers are companion dogs that were initially bred for pit fights. During pit fights, they had to engage in aggressive behavior. 

Even so, Boston Terriers don’t use barking as a form of intimidation.

Unlike Jack Russells, who learned to bark to signal they found prey, Boston Terriers didn’t evolve to bark. 

This doesn’t mean that Boston Terriers never bark. Each dog is unique and it all depends on the dog’s environment and previous experiences.

Related: Do Dogs Get Tired of Barking?

3 Reasons Why Boston Terriers Bark

Boston Terriers mainly bark for one of three reasons:

  1. Because of various health issues
  2. To express their emotions
  3. To communicate changes in their environment

1. Health Issues That Cause Boston Terriers To Bark

Health Issues That Cause Boston Terriers To Bark

The main health issues that cause barking in Boston Terriers are brain issues, pain, and cognitive disorders.

Boston Terriers bark compulsively when they’re affected by certain health conditions. 

Some of these issues involve the brain and the barking in these cases does not occur in normal circumstances. 

Boston Terriers often bark if they are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or canine senility. They are not always conscious of their reality and perceive non-existing threats. 

They also bark when they are in pain. They let out a single, high-pitched bark when hurt.

2. Boston Terriers Bark To Express Their Emotions

Boston terriers bark to express their positive and negative emotions. To distinguish between them, you have to listen for the pitch and frequency in combination with their body language.

Boston Terriers express the following emotions through barking:

  • Excitement
  • Need for attention
  • Fear 
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness
  • Boredom[1]

Boston Terriers Bark  When They Are Excited

Boston Terriers Bark  When They Are Excited

Type of barking: Barking with a rising pitch.

Excitement barking is similar to when humans vocalize their joy and excitement about a situation. Dogs bark with excitement whenever something they are fond of is going to happen.

Boston Terriers usually bark with excitement in the following scenarios:

  • They meet someone they love.
  • They are about to go for a walk.
  • They are about to eat.
  • They are about to go for a car ride.

Excitement barking is not easy to prevent. Boston Terriers anticipate your intentions before you even begin doing something. Your body language gives them clues about your next moves. 

They know you will take them for a walk before you walk out the door, so they start barking. 

Boston Terriers Bark for Attention

Type of barking: Persistent and high-pitched.

Attention-seeking barking is common in most dogs. Even if Boston Terriers are not frequent barkers, they can still engage in this behavior.[2]

This type of barking is often reinforced unintentionally by owners. 

If your Boston Terrier barks while you are washing the dishes and you look at them, you reinforce their attention-seeking behavior. 

Boston Terriers Bark When They Are Scared

Type of barking: Long fast and high-pitched, with a howl or drawn bark at the end.

Boston Terriers Bark When They Are Scared

Boston Terriers don’t bark every time they are scared. They experience fear at different intensities, depending on the danger.

When their fear is overwhelming, Boston Terriers are not able to contain their emotion. As a result, they bark and become restless.

A good way to figure out if your dog barks because of fear is to observe their body language and behavior. 

When they bark because of fear, Boston Terriers display one or more of the following:

  • Move back and forth.
  • Chew on the objects around them.
  • Scratch the door.
  • Try to climb up a window.
  • Freeze because of fear.

Boston Terriers Bark When They Are Anxious

Type of barking: continuous, with pauses.

There is a misconception that anxiety is the same as fear.

Still fear is a response to a real danger that is present in a specific moment. Anxiety is not caused by a real immediate threat. Anxious dogs experience fear which is not focused and can sometimes reach high intensity. 

Anxiety is often triggered by a variety of auditory and visual stimuli. It is sometimes by prolonged periods of stress and remains there even when the trigger is removed.

Boston Terriers experience anxiety if:

  • They have been abused in the past.
  • They have been abandoned.
  • They weren’t socialized when they were puppies.
  • They haven’t been exposed to various environments as puppies.

You can figure out if your Boston Terrier is barking because they are anxious[3] if they are also:

  • Adapting a lowered body posture.
  • Hiding. 
  • Seeking the presence of familiar humans.
  • Pacing. 
  • Retreating.

Boston Terriers Bark When They Are Lonely

Type of barking: continuous, with pauses.

Boston Terriers Bark When They Are Lonely

Boston Terriers don’t like to be alone. They have a predisposition for separation anxiety. 

Dogs feel lonely, similar to humans. The difference between humans and dogs is that dogs experience this emotion when humans or other animals are not around.

Being left alone regularly (for extended periods) leads to separation anxiety. 

Boston Terriers with separation anxiety experience[4]:

  • Elimination 
  • Redirected frustration
  • Reactive communication 
  • Social panic
  • Noise sensitivity
  • Immediate frustration

These reactions are accompanied by specific behavior such as destruction, restlessness, movement, biting, whining, and barking.

When affected by separation anxiety, Boston Terriers bark:

  • When the doorbell rings
  • When a person is at the door
  • When they are in the car and an unfamiliar dog or person approaches
  • When they can’t get to a familiar person or object
  • During owner’s pre-departures 
  • During sudden departures of the family.

Boston Terriers Bark When They Are Bored

Type of barking: monotonous and repetitive.

Boston Terriers get bored easily, especially if you don’t provide enough physical exercise. They are smart dogs that need a lot of mental stimulation. 

If you don’t spend time with your Boston Terrier, they will bark.

3. Boston Terriers Bark To Communicate Changes In Their Environment

Boston Terriers Bark To Communicate Changes In Their Environment

Boston Terriers use barking to inform others about what happens in their environment. They use this behavior to inform their owners that an intruder is trespassing on their territory or when they hear an unfamiliar sound.

Boston Terriers Bark To Protect Their Territory

Type of barking: Uninterrupted fast and high-pitched.

Boston Terriers are not territorial by nature, but they do protect their family. As a result, they engage in territorial barking, especially if they don’t have anything else to do. 

Territorial barking is common in other wild animals, such as arctic foxes[5], not just in dogs. Boston Terriers bark when strangers approach their territory. 

Their territory is not only your home. If you are on vacation with your dog and someone approaches, some Boston Terriers will start barking. 

Boston Terriers Bark To Signal External Threats 

Type of barking: Uninterrupted fast and high-pitched.

The most common type of external triggers Boston Terriers perceive as threats are unfamiliar noises[6]

Boston terriers bark every time they hear a loud noise that they haven’t heard before.

They usually engage in this type of barking only when they are stressed. If they are calm and relaxed they are not triggered by external cues which are not threatening. 

What Boston Terrier Barking Sounds Like

Boston Terriers bark differently depending on what they want to communicate. You can learn how to identify their barking if you pay attention to their acoustic structure. The barking pattern changes depending on the context.[7]

This table lists the main acoustic structures of Boston Terriers’ barks.

Acoustic StructureDescription
DurationReflects the mental stability of a Boston Terrier. It tells you if they perceive the situation as hostile or friendly.
Pitch Reflects a Boston Terrier’s emotional state. If they use a high pitch they experience a positive emotion. A low pitch indicates negative emotions.
FrequencyIndicates if Boston Terriers bark because they feel threatened (quick barking), or because of unfamiliar auditory triggers (lazy barking).

Ways To Control Boston Terriers’ Barking

You can control Boston Terriers’ barking by:

  • Teaching them the ‘Quiet!’ command
  • Ignoring them when they bark
  • Engaging them in an activity that impairs barking
  • Keep their stress levels low

Teach Boston Terriers The “Quiet!” Command

Here’s how to teach a Boston Terrier the “Quiet!” command:

  • Let your Boston Terrier bark for a few seconds.
  • Tell them to be quiet by using a single word of your liking.
  • When they stop, give them a treat. 
  • If they start barking just to get treats, reduce the time you let them bark. 
  • If your Boston Terrier doesn’t stop barking right away, repeat until they understand what you want from them.

Ignore Them When They Bark

This training technique works when Boston Terriers engage in attention-seeking barking. Before using this technique, try to understand why your dog needs your attention:

  • If they bark because they have to stay inside their crate and they don’t like it, ignore them. 
  • If they are anxious or afraid, find ways to reduce their anxiety.

Engage Boston Terriers in Other Activities

Engage Boston Terriers in Other Activities

Trainers use this technique to stop Boston Terriers from barking when the doorbell rings or when someone is at the door. Give your dog a toy to hold in their mouth when this happens. If their mouth is full, they can’t bark. 

Eventually, Boston Terriers will grab their toy instead of barking.

Reduce Boston Terriers’ Stress Levels

Boston Terriers usually bark when they are stressed. Other than that, they use their body language to communicate with their owners and other dogs. 

You can reduce your Boston Terrier stress levels in the following ways:

  • Walking them for at least 40 minutes every day.
  • Engaging them in mentally stimulating activities daily.
  • Not fighting in front of them.
  • Reducing your stress levels, which dogs mirror.[8]
  • Spaying or neutering them.
  • Feeding them a nutrient-rich diet.

Conclusion

Boston Terriers bark less than other breeds, in part because the breed wasn’t bred to bark. But, each Boston Terrier is unique and their personalities differ. Boston Terriers were bred for pit fighting and didn’t need to use barking for their job. They sometimes engage in barking when they try to communicate emotions or changes in their environment.

About Ioana Moldovan

Ioana is a Misfit Animals staff writer and psychology student interested in animal behavior. She likes to dive deep into the newest scientific studies to find out the latest discoveries in the field.

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