Most dog owners love dogs, for their amusing, loyal, comforting and fun loving ways. However, most people who own dogs also expect a certain level of protection, guarding against intruders and providing an extra measure of safety for the household. It's a dog's nature to bark, to alert you when someone's about or when they feel their territory is being invaded.
It's also true that some dogs can get carried away with the sound of their own bark, thus creating a nuisance for you and your neighbors and so diluting their effectiveness as protector of the home. Nuisance barking must be curbed. The question becomes how to teach your dog to stop barking inappropriately, but not entirely.
When you see that your dog's barking has stepped over into the nuisance category, don't let this behavior slide. You want to find out why your dog's barking and creating a nuisance. Dogs typically start barking excessively out of sheer boredom. Dogs are social animals and if they feel ignored. Left to their own devices without sufficient attention from the family members, they often start barking for no apparent reason – they're looking for attention. If this is the case, there may be no need to teach your dog to stop barking. Just be sure to spend more time with him, playing, talking him for long walks, grooming him and with lavishing him with plenty of petting.
Another boredom factor that leads to nuisance barking is a lack of dog toys. If your dog is grown, get him a big, juicy bone from the butchers. Visit the pet store and ask the staff for suggestions on popular dog toys. Get a Frisbee and see if a game of Frisbee doesn't tone down the nuisance barking.
Give these treatments at least a couple of weeks to begin to see a decrease in barking episodes. If the behavior persists, you may want to keep a log for a week or so, taking note of what sets off unwarranted barking. Dogs often bark when another dog in the neighborhood barks, setting off a round of barking. This is also normal dog behavior, which can be useful as the dog version of a neighborhood watch program. If you see that the barking is random, you need to teach your dog to stop barking for no reason except his whim.
One strategy that can work is the old hand on the muzzle approach. Gently place your hands on his muzzle, closing his jaws, accompanied by a quite, “Shhh! No!” A bandanna or that familiar folded up newspaper can also be used to wrap around his muzzle for a moment, to quiet the barking.
If none of these methods to teach your dog to stop barking works, give your vet a call and ask for his advice.
While your main objective is to get your dog to stop barking inappropriately, you also want to have him alert you when intruders may be present. Teaching your dog to stop barking involves some finesse, leaving his protective guard dog behaviors intact.