Ah the inevitable barking dog in the middle of the night - is there a neighborhood in America that has not been awakened at some point by the canine residents deciding at 3am to inform their best friends about a stray feline or two strolling through? The fact is, dog owners often anxiously wonder what can be used to stop a dog from barking.
One thing is certain, there is no shortage of methods to stop barking dogs. And just as certain, most of these available methods will not work for your (or your neighbor's) dog! Yes, this is yet another area for dog owners' patience to rule the day (or night, as it were) and let sanity prevail. Folks, it's time for some trial and error.
One way to deal with the issue is by using specially designed collars which “punish” the dogs for barking. There are three main types of these training collars: citronella, averse sound, and electric shock. The citronella collars release a strong smelling - but safe - liquid into your dog's face when he barks. Because the dog dislikes the smell, he may eventually stop barking. The averse sound collars work on the same principle, but instead of a smell they emit an unpleasant sound inaudible to humans. Electric shock collars also work this way, but they cause the dog physical pain for barking.
Of course there are other methods to stop barking dogs if you don't want to use these training collars. First, to understand how to stop a dog from barking you need to know what is causing the barking in the first place. For example, if your dog is barking for territorial reasons then you should deal with that problem differently than if he is barking because of fear of separation anxiety. Know your dog, and train accordingly. To learn more about how to determine why your dog is barking, read this article from the ASPCA. Once you know why, you can start applying the appropriate methods to stop barking dogs.
Another answer to the question of how to stop a dog from barking is simply to teach him a Quiet command. To do this, you'll need some treats he loves and a way of quickly distracting him, such as a water bottle (yes, to squirt him with water). When the dog barks at strangers, for example, give him a chance to stop barking on his own – no more than three barks. If he does not, say “Quiet” and use your distracting device. As soon as the dog becomes quiet, praise him and give him a treat. You'll have to do this repeatedly and consistently, but eventually you should be able to use “Quiet” to silence your dog's barking. This of course isn't one of the methods to stop barking dogs when they are alone, so keep reading in order to save your reputation with your neighbors.
How to stop a dog from barking and being too noisy when he's alone is another matter altogether. Again, you need to determine the cause of the barking. He might be bored, lonely, scared, etc. Regardless of the reason, exercise is one of the best methods to stop barking dogs. Surprised? Well do you feel like barking after a long workout? Before you leave your dog alone, take him for a nice, long walk around the neighborhood. Your intent should be to wear him out so he'll be too tired to bark and will end up sleeping most of the day. The amount of walking your dog will need to reach this point varies greatly. A Siberian Husky will need to do a lot more walking than a Saint Bernard. Think of all of the benefits you'll gain personally by implementing this method!
There are other answers to how to stop a dog from barking as well. For instance, your dog may need more toys or bones to keep him busy while you're gone, or he may be happier staying within the confines of a crate (after he is properly crate trained). If barking is a problem and you keep your dog outside, just bring him indoors. After all, barking dogs are one of the biggest causes for problems between neighbors. For more information on what can be used to stop a dog from barking, read this PDF brochure about barking dogs from our friends in the UK.