Barking dogs are considered to be a deterrent to intruders and many people become dog owners for this very purpose. It is not necessary to have a large and/or aggressive dog to deter wrong doers. An aggressive dog is a liability as there are people with right of access to your property, i.e. meter readers.
Barking is normal behaviour for dogs but how much a dog barks is mostly due to the training the dog has received, although some breeds are more vocal than others.
Some of the dogs more likely to bark are the smaller very active and alert breeds. Large dogs do have louder barks but they are also deeper in tone and may not carry as far or be any more annoying than a shriller bark from a small dog.
All puppies should be taught that unnecessary barking is not allowed. When puppies bark they should be disciplined verbally - a good method is to say "Aaaah - quiet". When the puppy quietens it should be praised. The "aaah" should be given as a harsh, guttural sound which will distract the puppy from barking and gain it's attention. The command "quiet" should be given in a firm, clear and definite tone. It will quickly learn to stop barking on the command "Quiet".
When a dog barks at someone at the front door it should be praised, then when you go to the door the dog should be given the command to stop barking.
Dogs which are habitual barkers are a nuisance to those who must live around them. They are also useless as watch dogs as nobody will respond to them barking.
Dogs will bark habitually because they are untrained, bored, uncomfortable or anxious.
Bored dogs are often diggers and chewers as well as barkers and this should tell the owner that the dog is simply looking for some way to fill in its day. Active dogs are likely to be the ones which continually run up and down the fence barking at the dog next door or passers-by in the street. These dogs may need to have their access to a boundary fence restricted.
Some dogs will bark in frustration at being unable to join in games with children. This frustration can often lead to a bite in excitement if the dog finally gets to join in. These dogs should be restrained away from view of these activities.
All dogs and owners will benefit from attending obedience classes. The owner will learn how to train the dog, the dog will learn how to respond to the owner.
Dogs which are cold during the night, will often bark in protest. Dogs must have a warm, draught free kennel and should be fed in the evening to ensure that they sleep while we sleep! Dogs have excellent hearing and sense of smell and although their eyes may be shut they are still able to respond to sounds and smells foreign to their normal environment. It is not necessary for a dog to be actively running around the yard all night to be a "watch" dog.
Dogs love to be part of household activities and will often bark in protest at being put outside. These dogs should be taught to respond to the word "quiet" as well as being made to see being put outside as pleasurable and not a punishment. Find a treat that the dog loves and only give this when the dog is put outside - never at any other time. The dog will relate being put outside with a pleasurable occurrence - the treat.
Some dogs are perfect angels while their owners are home but bark and howl the moment the owner turns the corner. These dogs suffer from a condition called separation anxiety. An excellent method for retraining these dogs is to make the dog unsure of how long the owner will be absent. The owner should leave the property and come back at intervals varying from a few minutes to several hours so that the dog is unable to predict how long the owner will be absent and, believing that it may only be a few minutes, will be less likely to be stressed.
Consideration of a breeds needs before purchase can help prevent owning a noisy dog, but in all breeds modification of behaviour by training is the best method of having a dog which is a pleasure to live with and causes no nuisance to neighbours.