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Why Is My Dog Barking at a Tree? 3 Possible Reasons

Genevieve Dugal

By Genevieve Dugal


Dogs communicate their moods in many ways, and barking is one of the loudest. There are many reasons why your puppy barks and most are simply normal reactions to particular situations. However, certain behaviors can intrigue you or worse, infuriate you (and drive your neighbors crazy too!). Among these is a dog barking incessantly at a tree.

Here are the most common reasons for this type of behavior and what you can do to help your dog stop those annoying yelps.
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The 3 Possible Reasons Your Dog is Barking at a Tree

1. There’s Something in the Tree

The most obvious reason would be that something in the tree caught your dog’s attention. Maybe there’s a squirrel, a cat, or even a raccoon stuck in that tree and can’t get down because your dog is fiercely guarding it. Try to identify the reason by looking for an animal sign in the tree: a bird’s nest, droppings on the ground, kitten meows, or other animal sounds.

If you can’t find anything, or your dog keeps barking against the same tree, then maybe there’s nothing but an old smell left by an animal that goes on that tree from time to time. Remember that a dog’s sense of smell and hearing are much more powerful than yours, so you may not find out the exact reason why your pup is barking at that tree. And if it wasn’t something external that caught his attention, then the source of the problem may be a behavioral issue.

dog trying to pee on tree at the streets
Image Credit: brennermatthias, Pixabay

2. Your Dog Is Feeling Anxious

If your dog is stressed or anxious, he may react in different ways to show his emotion. One of them may be frantically barking at a tree. Maybe your dog is also running around the tree, howling incessantly until he is exhausted. In this specific case, barking is probably the best way your dog has found to manage his anxiety and relieve his stress.

3. Your Dog Is Bored

Barking at a tree can also be a way for your bored pup to get your attention. Indeed, when dogs are not sufficiently stimulated mentally and physically, they sometimes resort to destructive behaviors to “vent” their frustration and boredom. If you’re away from home for several hours and leave your dog all alone in your backyard, yelping at a tree may be his only entertainment.

Note: It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause behind your dog’s excessive yelping without calling in a canine behavioral expert. Indeed, these animal behavioral specialists can come to your home, carefully observe your dog in his environment and identify the source of the problem more easily. You can also seek advice from your veterinarian to make sure your dog is not suffering from a health condition, such as canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), which is a syndrome seen mostly in older dogs.

neighbors dog barking
Image Credit: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

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How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at a Tree?

Once the vet has ruled out the medical issues, try the following methods to reduce your pooch’s excessive barking:

1. Physical and Mental Stimulation

Start by giving your dog enough physical and mental stimulation. A happy dog is one that can burn off his energy daily (ideally by your side) through walks, playtime, interactive toys, etc. Take him to the dog park so he can let loose, run, and play with his canine companions. Once back home, he will probably be so exhausted that he will quickly forget to bark at the trees!

2. Training

border collie dog getting trained
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Teaching your dog some basic commands will help your pet understand you better and strengthen your bond. Reward-based training is the best solution, especially if your dog is anxious and stressed. You can teach your dog to reduce or even stop excessive yelping by following a few simple steps:

  • If your dog yelps at a tree in your backyard, start the session there.
  • As soon as your dog starts barking, say “quiet” in a firm but calm voice.
  • If he stops barking, praise him warmly and give him a treat.
  • If he continues to bark or starts again immediately afterward, hide a treat in your closed fist.
  • Place your fist close to your dog’s face, without showing him the treat.
  • Repeat the “quiet” command.
  • If your dog obeys, give him the treat and praise him again. If not, repeat the previous steps until he stops barking.
  • Keep training sessions short. Short, daily training sessions work better than long, irregular sessions.
  • Be patient. Don’t yell at your dog, and always maintain a positive and firm attitude. This helps to strengthen the bond of trust between you and your pet.

See Also:

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Boredom, anxiety, the presence of a small critter, or an intriguing smell are common reasons why your dog keeps barking at a tree. But there are other potential reasons that can cause this type of excessive yelping. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find the exact reason without evaluating your animal in its environment; this is where canine behavior experts come in.

However, before calling a specialist, you can make sure your puppy gets enough exercise and teach him some simple obedience techniques. Hopefully, his unwanted barking will stop. In any case, do not forget to also seek the advice of your veterinarian, to make sure that his behavior is not caused by a health issue.

Featured Image Credit: alexei_tm, Shutterstock

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