As natural as it is for dogs to let out loud barks, the noise may become excessive and disruptive. While you shouldn't realistically expect for your dog's barking to cease altogether, there are still a few steps you can take to get your dog on the path toward peace and quiet. It's all about striking a balance between obedience and love.
Pay close attention to your dog's state of mind, especially when it goes on a barking spree. Chances are it is experiencing some sort of emotion and using barking as a means of releasing energy. Your dog might be startled, afraid or in need of some interaction. This attentive observation is particularly important for dogs who are left alone for long periods of time. Once you begin to understand what makes your dog bark, you can intervene with the appropriate training method for breaking the habit.
Spend time doing brief training sessions with the dog while you are at home. To do this, choose a simple command that you will use each time the dog is barking. This can be as simple as "hush" or "stop." During training, give praise in the form of a treat each time the dog follows the command to stop barking. Seize those quiet seconds and shower the dog with love. This will, over time, teach the dog to shorten barking sessions.
Take advantage of your dog's short attention span by using distracting sounds as a training tool. When the dog begins to bark, dial the number for a phone in the house that rings abruptly. You can also use other loud sounds, such as the tearing of Velcro, to quickly take the dog's attention away from barking. The unfamiliar sound should give the dog something new to investigate and take its attention away from the act of barking. Eventually, this can help break the habit.
Plan ahead to keep the dog busy if you'll be away from home for the day or longer. The dog needs some sort of interaction or attention, even if it's just noise from a radio or a cozy seat by the window to watch people walk by. Your training efforts are useless if the dog becomes so bored during the day that it resorts to the endless barking habit. Additionally, if you come home and spend lots of time socializing and exercising the dog, it's more likely to relax and rest well during the day while you're gone.
Use an anti-bark collar as a last resort in your battle against barking. These devices use different methods to physically alert the dog once it barks. Some anti-bark collars work by sending a shock through the dog's body, while others release a brief spray of citronella to grab the dog's attention. Since anti-bark collars are not all the same, it's important to consider your pet's sensitivity when purchasing one. With this form of training, involving no positive reinforcement, you can expect quick results.