Excessive vocalization is when there is an insistent meowing or barking, crying or whining, occurring in an inappropriate time during the day or night by your dog or cat. It can be related either with a health problem or a behavioral problem. When it’s a behavioral problem it can often be modified with the help of a behavioral professional or trainer.
Excessive vocalization can be caused by:
- excessive pain or illness
- loss of hearing
- cognitive dysfunction syndrome
- territorial conflict
- sexual behavior
- attention seeking
- distress vocalizations
The first thing you want to do if your animal meows or barks too much is to bring them to the vet as you want to rule out a health problem. Any change of behavior is always a sign to talk to your vet. If your cat or dog was a quiet animal and started to make too much noise, you want to share this information with your vet. The vet can run tests to find out if the problem your pet is telling you about is a medical issue.
If your animal doesn’t have any health issues, the excessive vocalization could be a behavioral problem. If this is the case, you should never reward the vocalization. If your cat or dog is looking for attention, any kind of attention from you will be a reward for him: “Ok, you screamed, but at least you talked to me!” Don’t play, pet, feed or talk to the animal while it is barking or meowing or you will be teaching him that making noise is a way of getting something he wants.
Instead, you reward your animal when he is quiet. If your cat or dog is presenting a behavior that you would like him to repeat, like staying still on his bed, you should give him a treat, play a little or just pet him.
Another thing to consider is if your pet has enough mental and physical stimulation. When not having all the exercise they need, animals tend to become bored. Apart from exercising the animal with walks and playtime, you should consider investing some money in interesting and durable toys. This will keep your pet’s mind busy during the day while you’re gone or at night when you’re asleep. Food dispensers are great, since they will prevent both boredom and obesity.
If excessive vocalization continues to be a problem after trying these techniques, then you should contact a professional behaviorist. They can provide you with additional training and help make a plan to modify your pet behavior.