Is your best friend a barker? A noisy dog helps keep the strange folk away, but relentless barking can be a real nuisance—ask your neighbors! If you want to calm down your pooch, here’s what not to do and what to do instead.

It’s a mistake to yell at a dog to get it to stop barking. Making noise is not an effective way to convince a dog to stop making noise. Your dog might think that you’re joining in on the fun.

Better: Look for the reason behind the barking and address it. Examples…

• If your dog barks to defend its territory against animals and people that it sees nearby, block its view. You could do this with curtains, fencing, landscaping or opaque window privacy film, available in home centers, that temporarily adheres to windows. You don’t have to cover the entire window, just the lower section that is in the dog’s sight line. You can gradually lower the privacy film until you don’t need it at all.

• If your dog barks to get your attention, ignore the dog until the barking stops. Wait a few beats and only then see what it wants. Eventually the dog will figure out that barking will not get it attention, though you might have to put up with considerable barking until this message gets through. Stay strong—many dogs try barking louder just before they finally give up on barking. You also can teach your dog the “hush” command. Say, “Hush,” and when the dog stops barking, give it a treat.

Thanks to Victoria Schade, author of Secrets of a Dog Trainer: Positive Problem Solving for a Well-Behaved Dog, for help with this tip.

More help for your pets…

• Acupuncture for Dogs and Cats

• Want a Second Dog? How to Make Sure the Two Get Along

• Home Remedies and Natural Cures for Dogs and Cats