I have an 8 year old Golden Retriever. She's a great dog and is very sweet but she has an extremely annoying problem. She barks at every little noise she hears outside, such as a neighbor closing a car door, someone talking on the phone outside, or another dark barking. Sometimes she'll bark at things we can't even hear. It's not constant barking. She'll bark loudly a few times and then will usually calm down after that.
It started out as a minor annoyance but it's gotten extremely irritating lately and now we have a baby she so she inevitably will wake him up with her barking a few times a week.
She gets lots of attention. She goes on a walk every day, sometimes even twice a day. There's only one day a week where she's home by herself. She goes outside with us a lot because we enjoy working in the yard and she doesn't bark that much out there.
We've yelled at her, tried to distract her with treats, and even spanked her (not hard), although we haven't done that in a long time because I don't think it's very effective. Now we just yell at her because we don't know what else to do. This will usually shut her up but she'll just bark again next time she hears a little noise outside. What can I do to get her to be quiet?
I have an 8 year old Golden Retriever. She's a great dog and is very sweet but she has an ... bark again next time she hears a little noise outside. What can I do to get her to be quiet?

Yelling at a dog, administering punishment, and getting upset when the dog is barking is a sure-fire way to reinforce the behavior, because the dog interprets this to mean that you are also alarmed about the disturbance and you are also barking (in your own way) to scare off the perpetrator of the perceived threat.
The best way to reduce unwanted barking is to reassure the dog that all is OK, and you might have to actually go with your dog to investigate the sound to prove that you really are OK with it. If your dog sees you as a leader, your calm reaction will be respected and he/she will react in kind.

You should be glad your dog is giving some warning. Muttley has gotten used to most of the normal sounds in the neighborhood, and is very good at distinguishing my neighbor's car door closing versus that of a strange car parked nearby. And he has also learned to "muffle" his barks under some conditions. When I am sleeping, he emits just a little "rrruff" sound unless it is something really disturbing. And when he spent the night in a motel room with me and a friend, and he heard other guests come and go in the hall, he also used restraint in his vocalizations, which I praised heavily, and he was fine.
You should also look into positive methods and clicker training. Ask your question in the forum at www.victoriastilwell.com, and they will tell you how to click on the times when your dog reacts appropriately to a noise. Once the dog starts going nuts and barks "WooWooWooWooWoof!", you must wait until a quiet moment and then click and treat, or simply reward with a "Good Dog" pat on the head. The timing is critical, so it might be best to consult with a trainer, but it's not rocket science. You have to learn to understand how the dog thinks.
Paul and Muttley
I have an 8 year old Golden Retriever. She's a great dog and is very sweet but she has an ... even hear. It's not constant barking. She'll bark loudly a few times and then will usually calm down after that.

I have a dog who will alarm bark every time someone with a dog comes near my house. This is annoying, especially when I'm reading on the couch with him lying on top of me.
The normal advice is to calmly go and check out the alarm source, calmly tell the dog "thank you, I'll handle it from here." I gave that up after about 4 years. Now, I move him to a different room, put him into a down, and give him a few minutes of time out. We're a year into this method and it doesn't work, either.
The only positive advice I can give comes from dog owning friends with young children: Don't go out of your way to make your environment quiet for your infant.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
The only positive advice I can give comes from dog owning friends with young children: Don't go out of your way to make your environment quiet for your infant.

Agreed. Kids can learn to sleep through almost anything if you don't spend your time tiptoeing around when they are napping.

Janet Boss
www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
The only positive advice I can give comes from dog ... your way to make your environment quiet for your infant.

Agreed. Kids can learn to sleep through almost anything if you don't spend your time tiptoeing around when they are napping.

very true when mine were babies, I would put laundry away in their room and slam drawers and vacuum in their room.
of course when they are teens they sleep through everything when you train them this way...
Nessa

trying to be the best human she can,
Agreed. Kids can learn to sleep through almost anything if you don't spend your time tiptoeing around when they are napping.

For the first years of my son's life, we lived just blocks from live fire artillery ranges on the military base, and right by the airfield. There was no such thing as quiet there; artillery fire rattled the windows most days and nights, while low flying choppers passed over toward the airfield.
He slept through it all, and is still a heavy sleeper.

Susan
I have an 8 year old Golden Retriever. She's a great dog and is very swee=t but she has an ... bark again next time she hears a little noise outside. What can I do to get her to be qui=et?

None of that will work for two possible reasons, one-you are being inconsistent and two- the noises still bother her. Generally I have found that dogs that bark as you describe are dogs that have low confidence and these little noises are startling to the dog. Start doing noise training with your dog to build her confidence. Start with noises she can handle and reward her for not reacting. Keep upping the noises and rewarding for not reacting. Take her to places where noises happen and reward for ignoring the noises. The rewards can be treats, toys, play, etc.. Mis up the rewards so it's not always the same. Have a person go outside and make a noise and reward for not barking at the noise. As she gets better make the noises louder and louder.

When she's up for it take her to places like Home Depot where there's a whole lot of noises and reward, reward, reward for ignoring noises. The more noises she is exposed to the better (taken slowly though as she can handle it).
Lauralyn
Raw fed agility dogs
Shylo, Cheyenne, Lakota, Apache