Dog Blog: How do you stop nuisance barking?

We have a story running in the paper tomorrow about nuisance barking being a violation of municipal code. I would venture to say most city residents have either been a victim of the unwanted barking or guilty of having a dog that breaks the rules. What I'm looking for here are tips on how people can get their dogs to stop.

I think most people who have nuisance barkers would gladly train them not to -- if they knew how. The purpose of this blog is to help them out.

I addressed it with my gang in different ways. Yorkies -- many little dogs for that matter --  have a reputation for being yappers. It's a defense mechanism for a breed that has few other weapons at its disposal. But my wife and I refused to allow them to ruin the tranquility of our home, not to mention the tranquility of the neighborhood when the dogs are in the backyard.

We allow a bark or two to alert us. We also investigate to rule out an intruder. After that, they're told "No bark." I trained that just as I would any other trick. I'd say "No bark," and reward with a treat the second the barking abated. Just the word "No" would stop them long enough to earn the treat and teach them that that's the behavior I was looking for.

For Eddie, I also taught him to "speak." When he learned that "speak" was a word to identify it, he better learned that "speak" was something he could learn to curtail.

Outside, the rules are the same. They frequently bark at the neighbor dogs, but I always intervene and tell them "No bark." If they don't stop, they have to come in the house. After years of repetition, they know what the rules are. I've had occasions where the neighbor dogs will bark like crazy and mine just walk away. That's the best feeling in the world.

Lucy, my Chessie, often needs more attention than the others. She thinks it's her job to put the neighbor dogs in their place. With her, most of the training is just stopping her when it happens. I don't allow it to continue, even if it means she returns to the house. She gets treats for compliance.

I think most nuisance barking probably comes from dogs left unattended outside. To be honest, I don't know how mine would do if I wasn't there to intervene. Mine are never left unattended outside. They're pets, not working dogs, and I don't expect them to be able to fend for themselves in an Alaska winter.

Any tips for others?