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Barking is a normal canine activity, but excessive barking can cause problems for those who work from home, with neighbors and with local ordinances.  Bark collars are a means to ending the behavior immediately, but you will want to train your dog as well to reduce the barking behavior to acceptable limits.  Scroll down to learn more about why dogs bark and techniques for teaching your dog to inhibit his desire to bark.

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Recognizing the cause of your dogs barking can aid you in remodeling his behavior.  Common causes of barking include:

Attention Seeking: Dogs may bark incessantly to demand your undivided attention, food or play time.  If you give in to his demands while he is barking, you reward the behavior, and the barking will escalate.

Boredom: A neglected dog may begin to bark as an activity to relieve boredom.  Well exercised dogs tend to relax during downtime, while those with pent-up energy may release that energy through barking or other destructive behavior.

Excitement: When dogs become overly excited, they frequently release their energy by barking and jumping. You may see this behavior when they are greeting people or preparing to go for a walk.

Fear: Your dog may be barking out of fear of lawn or construction equipment, people, introduction to new places and other animals. Some dogs are sensitive to loud noises such as gun shots, construction noise, thunder and fireworks.  You can recognize a frightened dog; he will have his ears back, tail held low or between the legs, he will likely lean back on his shoulder and his hackles (the hair on the shoulders) may be raised.

Territoriality: Throughout the thousands of years that man has lived with dogs, sounding the alarm that there is an intruder has been a prized attribute of our canine companions.  Many breeds were bred specifically as guard dogs.  Recognizing territorial behavior in your dog: you will see his ears are up and alert, he is forward on his shoulder and his tail will be held high or cocked-up over his back.

Health Issues: Canine Cognitive Dysfunction or deafness, may cause a dog to bark incessantly because he cannot hear himself bark.

Training Your Dog Not To Bark

The Dog That Barks Out Of Boredom: As Caesar Milan has noted: a tired dog is a good dog and much less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. To make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day a morning walk and evening walk should help alleviate the boredom.  If you have a high drive breed or young dog, fetch games and chew toys can help alleviate boredom when you aren't there to supervise him.

Attention Seeking: Ignore the barking, you don't want to reward a bad behavior.  If your dog is barking for attention, turn your head away until he stops.  After he has been quiet for a few seconds, praise him.  Once he can remain silent for 30 seconds, take him out for a short walk, a ball tossing session or reward him with a chew toy.

Barking At Other Dogs, Vehicles or Pedestrians: Desensitize your dog to the stimulus by gradually getting him accustomed to the object that is causing him to bark.  Begin with the object out of site and feed him treats.  Allow the object to move into site and continue to feed treats.  Once the object is out of site, stop feeding treats.  Whenever the stimulus moves into sight feed treats, so he will associate the object with good things.  

Redirect Attention on Lead: You will need 2 tug toys for this exercise. When the stimulus that causes barking appears, you will notice that the dogs energy level has increased and his attention is focused on the object.  Stand still and wait. He will become frustrated at not being able to take action, and at some moment his focus will shift from the object, to seek another way to release his excitement and tension.  

Have a tug toy at hand and when he looses focus on the object, present the tug toy, and back slightly away from the stimulus.  He should go after the toy to release his energy.  Pay tug and let him win (keep the toy). Now pull out a second toy as you move past or away from the stimulus.  He will want another game of tug and release the first toy.  You may continue the exchange until the stimulus is no longer in view.  Praise him and reward him after the stimulus is gone and he is relaxed.  Eventually he will look to you whenever there is a situation where he feels excited and needs to release his energy.

Visitors To Your Home Create Excitement and Barking: Teaching The Quiet Command You begin by teaching your dog to speak. Give your dog the command to "speak," and wait for him to bark several times, and then offer him a treat. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say "speak." 

Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the "quiet" command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to "speak." When he starts barking, say "quiet" and stick a treat in front of his nose; he should stop barking to receive the treat. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.