Barking is the dog’s instinctive means of giving a warning and it would be against your interest to discourage it. However, once you have been alerted, your dog should realize that his job is done. So select a word of praise, such as “Good Dog” or “Okay”, or a command such as “quiet”, and give your dog a pat to indicate that he must now be still.
Hysterical barking such as during a thunderstorm can be treated by reassurance, companionship, distraction, or if all else fails by tranquilizers from your veterinarian. Barking at a strange object can be quickly stopped by showing him that there is nothing to fear.
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Barking from boredom or in order to attract attention is best treated by eliminating the cause. If you give your dog plenty of attention and exercise, you can insist on quiet behavior the rest of the time. Obedience training is of great indirect benefit due to the self-discipline it imposes and the mental and physical activity it provides.
Whining, barking, or howling when left alone should not be tolerated.
It is easier to prevent in a puppy than it is to correct in an adult dog. However, even a lonely barker can be cured in an afternoon or evening if you arm yourself with patience and whatever acting talent you possess.
You must pretend to leave your dog alone, telling him to “Guard the house”, and that you will be “back soon”. As soon as your dog starts to bark or howl, you must burst furiously into your home, saying “Bad Dog” or “No!” A single experience may be enough to make it clear to your dog that his barking displeases you.
When your dog is duly impressed by your dissatisfaction, you should forgive him, settle him down, tell him to “Guard the House” and leave again. Be patient and hope for the best. If your dog has not barked within 5 or 10 minutes, you can be almost certain that he has learned his lesson. But if he resumes his barking, you must repeat the entire scenario, and repeat it as often as necessary.
As a final scene, stay away for a brief time, and when he hasn’t barked, return, greet him fondly and praise him. Then reward him with a treat or a walk, whichever he prefers. The next day you can test him by making a point of leaving him alone for a short period of time. Chances are that he will pass the test.
In the future, if you take the trouble to give him plenty of exercises beforehand, and an opportunity to relieve himself, a diverting to or bone, water and food, whenever you have to leave your dog at home alone for an evening, he will never howl or bark without some justifiable reason.
A simple trick to stop your dog from barking with joy when you come home in the middle of the night is to give him his ball or bone or favorite toy. He cannot hold something in his mouth and bark at the same time. He may gurgle with delight, but this will not disturb the neighbors.