Dogs bark to communicate with you and other dogs. Unfortunately, some dogs may bark excessively, which can keep you up at night or disturb your activities in the home. To prevent Fido from barking incessantly, teach him that being quiet and only barking occasionally leads to good things such as food rewards and play. With positive reinforcement, your pup eventually will start to be a little quieter in the home.
Determine the Trigger
Most pups are triggered to bark by a situation, a person or a noise. For example, someone ringing the doorbell or coming into your home could set off your pup's barking. Your pup may bark when the television is on or during thunderstorms. If the barking is a recent occurrence, bring your dog to the vet to determine whether or not a medical issue, such as canine cognitive dysfunction or deafness, could be the cause. Sometimes the trigger might be something that you can control. If, for example, your pooch is stimulated to bark by the sight of your mail carrier or wildlife outside, closing the curtains will cut off his view and stop his barking.
Desensitize Your Pup
Once you know what's causing your pup’s barking, you can begin to desensitize him to it in 10-minute sessions. Record the offending sound and play it for your pooch while giving him treats. If a specific person sets off Fido's barking spree, give him lots of treats in her presence to keep him quiet. He'll soon associate that person or sound with good things and being rewarded for silence. Have the person or object at a distance and gradually move it closer to your pup over several sessions. If dealing with sounds, increase the volume of the sound with each session. Another option is to engage your pup in an activity such as play or training when his trigger occurs to distract him from barking.
Teach the "Quiet" Command
While you can't expect your pooch to be silent indoors, you can teach him to quiet down on command to prevent spurts of prolonged barking. Trigger your pup's barking with a sound or object and allow him to bark a few times. Say "Quiet" and feed him several treats. The treats keep him quiet, reward him for the silence and eventually teach him what the command means. If treating doesn't work, try saying the command and clap your hands to distract your pup. Once he's quiet, immediately treat him. Start by having him stay quiet for a few seconds and treat him before extending the time necessary for him to get a treat.
Ignore the Barking
When your pup barks, he may be trying to get your attention. Ignore his barking to avoid reinforcing this behavior. Scolding him actually gives Fido the attention that he's looking for so try not to react at all to the barking. Once your pup is silent, pay attention to him and interact with him. Soon he'll learn that being quiet gets him attention instead of barking.
Occupy the Pooch
Regularly exercise your pooch and give him lots of toys to play with to prevent him from barking out of boredom. Half an hour of exercise before you leave for the day will tire out your pooch so he won't be as prone to bark, recommends PetEducation.com. Puzzle toys containing kibble will keep your pup busy and discourage him from barking out of hunger during the day, especially when you're gone. Crating your pooch may make him feel more secure while you're gone and less likely to bark.