All dogs bark. It is a natural way for them to communicate and many of us like our dogs to bark when something happens to alert us. But sometimes we just want them to stop!
There are many reasons why dogs bark. Being bored, lonely, frustrated, frightened, excited, alerting, are just some examples – and depending upon what we are doing or our mood, we either yell at our dog, do absolutely nothing, or perhaps go and see what our dog is barking at. If we are inconsistent with how we respond to their barking, it’s reasonable that they continue to do it.
We need to give our dogs some rules. For ‘alert’ barking we need to teach our dog that it is OK to bark but they need to know when to stop.
So, how do we train it?
Load yourself up with some of your dog’s favourite treats. Find a quiet spot without any distractions and when your dog is not barking, get his attention and simply feed your dog a treat and at the same time, say ‘quiet’. Your dog doesn’t have to sit or do anything else – they just need to be quiet. Do this a few times making sure that your dog is still engaged with your ‘quiet’. Repeat your training using your word a few times a day, or as often as you can, without boring your dog. Add some congratulatory words too – like ‘good dog’. Your dog will learn to know that word ‘quiet’ earns him a treat or two.
Next time your dog is barking, go and see what they are barking at. Take with you those fantastic treats that you have been using with the word ‘quiet’. You will use the treats to reinforce your dog when they stop barking. Place a treat under your dog’s nose saying ‘quiet’. Your dog will hopefully take your treat and should stop barking – a dog can’t bark if there is something in his mouth. Continue to feed your dog a treat saying ‘quiet’ and tell him how good he is.
However, if he doesn’t stop barking you may have to set up situations where your dog will bark so that you can practise your training or try with a higher level reward. If your dog responds to your ‘quiet’ you know you have the issue resolved and can use it with periodic reinforcement of treats each time.
If you do this consistently, your dog will learn to stop barking whenever you say ‘quiet’.
Read this article by Jess Sandstrom from Howling Success Dog Training for more!