Beyond being man's best friend, dog's are best known for doing what comes naturally, such as barking. Most dog owners rely on Rover to let them know when an intruder might be approaching the house. This type of barking behavior is a characteristic which makes Rover a valuable addition to the family. However, everyone's had the experience of living in a neighborhood where there's a dog that just won't quit – barking! This can be a real annoyance to people blocks away. Understanding why your dog has gotten into a pattern of excessive barking can remedy the problem within a short period of time, before all your neighbors are up in arms.
Some dogs get into the excessive barking game out of sheer boredom. All dogs are permanent kids and, like kids, may show behavioral problems of which everyone disapproves simply because they have nothing better with which to occupy their time. A child may decide to clean out your closet or junk drawer. A dog may decide barking is great fun. Before long, unchecked, you've got a dog with an excessive barking problem.
Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, play time and attention from family members. Sometimes, remedying this neglect is all it takes to cure the dog of excessive barking that will eventually drive you crazy and make your neighbors unfriendly.
To correct excessive barking that stems from boredom related causes, try picking up some toys next time you're at the pet shop. Chew toys are good, as are the toys which have a pocket in which you can hide tasty morsels of food for him to discover.
Some dogs pick up on the owner's nervous tendencies, interpreting your anxiety to be an indication of potential, unseen threats. Rover ramps up his protective instincts, becoming overly alert to every sound. Excessive barking is the result.
Older dogs who acquire this habit may do so because they are deaf. They know, when the cat surprises them at their food dish, their abilities aren't quite up to snuff. They figure if they bark a lot, just in case, they'll effectively warn off any real threats.
If none of this works, it may be time for more formal steps. Consult your vet for advice on using some of the anti bark devices available. These include bark collars which either deliver a mild electrical shock or a spray of citronella to modify the excessive barking behavior. Some dog owners find the bark collars to be inhumane, although the citronella sprays seem to be better tolerated by both owners and dogs.
If you're really desperate for a solution, there are medications your vet can prescribe to calm your dog down. One highly controversial, but certainly effective remedy is a surgical procedure that makes it impossible for your dog to bark. The problem with such radical remedies is that Rover is effectively rendered useless as a watch dog. Before considering such solutions, ask your vet about obedience classes which may solve the problem.
Before rendering your dog barkless, remember too that you might then be introducing a new neurosis. What if Rover is barking excessively in hopes of attracting a sweetheart? Your best bet is to let him bark when appropriate, keeping everyone happy.