Dog barking is an instinctive behavior, used to communicate all sorts of messages, from "The house is on fire" to "I'm lonely." Unfortunately, your dog's barking habits may make your neighbors want to whack you with a rolled-up newspaper! Here are some of the common reasons for barking, and what you can do about them: Isolation and boredom: If your dog is home alone for long periods while you're at work, it's very common for problem barking to be a sign of boredom and loneliness. Provide plenty of safe, interesting toys and rotate them from time to time to keep things interesting. Make sure your dog gets to exercise and play with you every day and consider hiring a dog-walker to come in during the day and provide a little more excitement, or try one or two days a week at a doggie day care. Territorial protection: Train your dog on a "quiet" command by interrupting the barking with a noise (like a handclap, or shaking pennies in a can) then saying "good quiet" and providing a treat and affection as soon as the barking stops. Use some simple dog behavior modification: Ask a friend (not someone the dog knows well) to work with you on territoriality by walking by the house while you train on the "quiet" command. Spaying or neutering can also cut down on territorial behavior. Fear of loud noises: Try not to coddle your dog when thunderstorms or fireworks cause barking fits -- this will only teach the lesson that barking at noises yields extra attention! Turn on some kind of "white noise" like a fan or TV to lessen the startle response, and remember to reward your dog for obeying the "quiet" command. Many pet stores sell "bark collars" that provide electrical shocks or other stimuli to stop barking. They stop the barking, but don't address the underlying cause, which may manifest itself in some other inappropriate behavior.