Excessive barking typically occurs in dogs that are left unsupervised for extended periods of time. According to two independent surveys, 1/3 of dog owners claimed that their dogs were on barking overload! The problem can also be exacerbated if you have a multi-dog household. Barking is hard to control because it is a normal and natural behavior for dogs. Dogs bark for 7 reasons: as a warning, to gain attention, out of excitement, to identify themselves to other dogs, when startled, when bored, or when lonely/frustrated. Beagles, Terriers, and some herding breeds tend to bark more often. For many, it becomes an enjoyable way to pass the time.

A simple way to help stop barking is to spend more time with your dog and supervise him when he’s outside. Adequate exercise can make a big difference. A tired dog that has burned off much of his energy is less likely to have the energy to do a lot of barking.

Various training methods may be employed to control barking. For example, command him to lie down since lying dogs are less likely to bark. Reward your dog for good behavior, such as giving him his favorite toy to distract him only after he’s quieted down for a bit; otherwise, he will think you are rewarding him for barking.

However, your actions and reactions may infuse the problem. Shouting “NO” may result in increased barking by the dog since the dog thinks you are joining in. By embracing the dog, or talking soothingly to him, he may think you are reinforcing his behavior or validating his fear. Behavior modification may take time, so be patient with your dog. Contact a professional trainer, who can establish a specific plan to help keep your dog happy, calm, relaxed and therefore silent.

Resources/Additional Reading
Benjamin, CL. Dog Problems. Howell Book House. New York, NY; 1989;113-124.
Clark, GI; Boyer, WN. The Mentally Sound Dog. Alpine Publications, INC. Loveland, CO; 1995;167-174.
Juarbe-Diaz, SV. Assessment and treatment of excessive barking in the domestic dog. In Houpt, KA (ed.) The Veterinary Clinics of North America, Small Animal Practice. W.B Saunders Co. Philadelphia, PA; 1997;27(3):515-532.