While there are many different reasons that dogs bark, it is agreed upon by all that most barks are uninhibited and unnecessary. It is within your dog’s nature to bark and in most cases he will feel that he is simply doing you a favor in warning you about the boy playing on his bike outside.
Most barks are simply in reaction to a strange noise, a knock at the door, or people walking outside. While a majority of the time this can be assumed, it is important not to forget that he may in fact be trying to tell you something.
Your pup may need to go outside, or he may simply need water or food. It is also likely that he may be bored and wanting some attention or playtime. After checking that all of these needs have been satisfied, it is usually safe to assume that your dog is simply barking to hear himself bark.
Some will advise investing in a citronella bark collar, which sprays a mist of harmless citronella into your dogs face. The unpleasant smell and taste becomes associated with barking thus leading your dog to refrain in fear of this consequence. While some swear by these collars, they are costly and some vet offices have reported cases of citronella overdose (thus invalidating the claim for some that the citronella stops the barking).
For most dogs, a simple command can be taught to hinder the bothersome barking. As with the bark collar, if a dog associates an action with a negative reaction, they typically learn to refrain from it. You can use a clean bottle of water to spray in your dogs face when he barks or sternly say, “No barking.” Immediately after the negative behavior stops, it is important to reward and praise your dog. Also essential is the fact that rewarding does not necessarily mean giving copious amounts of treats. Dogs thrive on love and attention, and many times simply petting your dog can have the same effect as a ‘treat’. Again, consistency is key to effectively train your dog to stop barking.
Exercising your pup is a great way to combat boredom, which is where most barking stems from. Take your dog for a run in the morning or throw a ball around the back yard to tire him out.
To prevent your dog from barking while you are away, close any windows or blinds that may cause distractions from the outside. Playing classical music, or turning on the television can also drown out background noises that may be disturbing for your canine.
With enough exercise, love and attention, your dog will most likely be contented to lounge by your feet or sleep through the sound of an ambulance driving by. If all else fails, many veterinarians will recommend a dog behaviorist to diagnose and assess your dogs troublesome barking.