Your dog communicates with his bark. But if he barks excessively, it can diminish his effectiveness as a watchdog. The good news is you can control the situation. Understanding why you have an excessive barker is the first step to solving the problem. Here are the most common causes of constant barking:
Loneliness—A dog that is home alone for long periods is likely to bark because he feels anxious or sad and is afraid his owner may not return.
Conditioning—Your dog may bark because you have inadvertently trained him to do so. Think about it: He barks and you open the door to let him out. He barks again and you let him back in. He may even bark for a treat-and then you give him one.
Inactivity—Lack of exercise can result in a dog that has pent-up energy and barks out of frustration. A well-exercised dog is more likely to sleep when you're not there.
How to tame the dog that cries wolf
Take your dog for at least two 20-minute walks each day, or head to the park for a game of fetch. Dogs that spend most of their time in the backyard or in the house need regular exercise.
Visit the same park daily or weekly and let him find doggy friends. Dogs are social creatures. Plus, there's a lot of truth to the saying "a tired dog is a good dog."
Give your dog something to do when he is home alone. Instead of barking, your dog can keep himself busy by earning his food. Fill a hollow chew toy with a biscuit or two. You can also pack it with canned food and freeze it, so it takes a long time for your dog to get the food out.
Attach an unpleasant experience to inappropriate barking. Never strike your dog, but do something that will catch his attention, such as clanking an empty soda can filled with coins, or quickly misting water in his face. As soon as your dog stops barking, instantly reward him.
Teach your dog a "quiet" command. Each time your dog barks, give him a command of "quiet" or "no bark." At the same time, hold a treat in front of your dog's nose. Most dogs get quiet immediately because they can't sniff the treat and bark at the same time.
Lavish praise on your big dog during his quiet time. After three seconds of no barking, let him have the treat. As you continue with your training, increase the amount of time you require him to be quiet before giving the treat.
While you can't calm your dog's constant barking overnight, you can retrain him to bark only when necessary. Be prepared that it may take weeks to establish new habits. Just stick with the training and you'll see a new pattern of appropriate barking develop.