The following article is excerpted from Sound Advice (Appendix C), a public document created by the Special Events Section of the American Association of Retired Persons under a grant from the EPA. This material was originally reprinted with permission from the Humane Society of the United States. It was adapted from materials provided by the City and County of Honolulu, the Honolulu Humane Society, and Citizens Against Noise.

Determine for yourself whether your dog is a good companion, a good watchdog, or a neighborhood nuisance, by answering the following:

Does your dog bark excessively-
•When he is left alone and
•When another dog barks?
•When the kids next door come
out to play?
•When he's outside and wants to get in the house?
•When the neighbors leave
or return home?
•When you come home?
•At garbage collectors,
passing cars?
•When he hears a siren?

If your answer is “yes” to any one of these, your dog could be a neighborhood noise nuisance.
Dogs bark for many reasons: when other dogs bark, when they are generally excited or frustrated, or when a stranger intrudes on their territory.

Excessive barking can be extremely annoying to neighbors as well as to those who have to live with a noisy dog. A constant barker is more likely to be ignored if there is an intruder, since he seems to “cry wolf” all the time.

One of the most common public complaints is about neighbors' barking dogs. Is your dog an excessive barker and a potential public nuisance? The National League of Cities, together with the Humane Society of the United States, and the Juniper Park Civic Association would like to pass on an effective training method to responsible owners.

The Water Training Method WORKS for almost all dogs. If possible, consider going to a reputable local obedience school. An obedience trained dog will stop barking on command, and knowing obedience signals will help you control your dog in other situations and make life happier for all. Consider the times when your dog's barking is a nuisance. If it's when he's left alone all day, help his loneliness by leaving the radio on. If your dog is an outside pet, allowing it more freedom or movement in a fenced yard or pen may quiet its barking. If practical, you might consider a companion pet. Be sure you have plenty of toys available for amusement.

Don't make a big thing out of leaving or returning home. Over-excited dogs are more likely to bark and yelp.

*The first training rule is to be consistent and persistent. You can't expect a dog to learn-if barking for the wrong reason is corrected one time and not the next.
*Second, be ready for an immediate response. Have ready a plant mister filled with water.
*Say “QUIET DOG” (or whatever its name is) and give one or two squirts of water at the dog while it is barking. He will stop at once. If you wait until he stops barking it may confuse him.
*If the dog moves away, repeat saying “Quiet” as you go to him and give one more squirt of water at him. Repeat each time he barks needlessly.
*Usually a day or two of training is enough if you are consistent. (5 to 10 water treatments)
*Remember to reassure the dog that you are still friends by petting him later when he's quiet.
*With this conditioning procedure your dog will soon learn to expect a squirt of water when you shout “Quiet” for once he has made the association, you won't need to squirt him again- only rarely, should he forget.

Do you know what a nuisance barker is? According to the Humane Society and Citizens Against Noise, their definition is given as an example of the way one community is adopting a “Barking Dog Ordinance.
“(d) 'Barking dog' shall mean a dog that barks, bays, cries, howls or makes any other noise continuously and/or incessantly for a period of ten minutes or barks intermittently for 1/2 hour or more to the disturbance of any person at any time of day or night regardless of whether the dog is physically situated in or upon private property; provided, however, that a dog shall not be deemed a 'barking dog' for purposes of this Article, if, at the time the dog is barking or making any other noise, a person is trespassing or threatening to trespass upon private property in or upon which the dog is situated or for any other legitimate cause which teased or provoked the dog.” (End definition.)

After receiving a warning citation, the owner is required to follow specific instructions for the dog's training by the Humane Society.

• Always find out WHY your dog barks. Unless it has a watchdog reason, then you must correct it at that time.
• Do not turn a garden hose on a dog or throw rocks or tin cans at him.
• Spanking/hitting is an ineffective substitute for water treatment and rarely solves any problems.
• Whenever your dog barks for a trained watchdog reason, praise it or pat it.
• Remember, dogs are companion animals and should be kept in the house during the normal night hours whenever possible.

A dog that is chained up or left alone indoors and is allowed to bark hour after hour may no longer be trainable. Such a dog may have become too neurotic for an inexperienced trainer. If this is the case with your dog, consult your veterinarian or qualified dog trainer.

Correcting unnecessary barking is more convenient during the day, but getting up a few times at night will prove worthwhile. After that, you and your neighbors will know when your dog barks, there's a real reason. If your neighbors are home and you're not, they will check to see if police should be notified.

The security of knowing you have a real watchdog, as well as enjoying a peaceful and quiet night, and allowing your neighbors to enjoy one too, is well worth the effort.