Teaching Your Dog to be QUIET
Recently I wrote and published an article on teaching your dog to bark.
I like being able to control my dog’s mouth in numerous ways!
People want a dog that is protective, but they don’t understand how quickly that behavior can get out of control and be directed at the wrong people. But simply teaching your dog to bark with a hand signal is fairly innocuous and yet quite a deterrent.
However for many people barking is a problem. Nuisance barking runs rampant among many dogs and their irritated owners!
A lack of control!
The dog barks at what and when he wants leaving the owner with no control.
The other biggest problem is that it is not nipped in the bud when it starts.
I recently had a client that is pretty typical, in the beginning they thought barking was something to reward and thought it was funny when their dog barked at the doorbell on T.V. Then one day they realized the barking was out of control and their dog barked at everything!
Of course he did! He was consistently rewarded for barking at whatever he wanted FOR YEARS and so it became an extensive and resilient conditioned behavior! And, conditioned behaviors are much more difficult to break!
Best Case Scenario
Start YOUNG! I believe that they younger you teach your puppy “bark and quiet” the better off you will be. This sets you up for a lifetime of control of this very difficult instinct and behavior!
Your dog learns early that you are in charge of when, how loud and what he barks at and you can extinguish his bark very quickly.
If you wait until the dog is conditioned to barking and is older it is much more difficult to stop this behavior.
As weird as it sounds, in order to teach your dog to be quiet, you must teach him to bark for you on command. If your dog doesn’t bark for you consistently on command read this article: Teaching Your Dog to Bark on Command.
Again, you want to have full control over this behavior.
Once you can get your dog to bark either with a verbal command or a hand signal you may begin teaching your dog to be quiet!
What you will Need:
- Your Dog
- Great Treats
- His Favorite Toy
- A clicker
If you are also using my tie out techniques for getting your dog to bark, it is fairly simple to go from barking to quiet.
Wait until your dog stops barking; and reward by using the clicker and his toy or great treats.
In the beginning I do not use a command, because once you speak your dog may associate whatever command you use with barking and so he will begin using his voice again.
We want to catch him off guard when he is quiet and give him a great reward.
It is important to know your dog and know what motivates him. If you don’t know read Finding Your Dog’s Motivator it is critical to use what your dog likes most!
Barking and using his voice is already somewhat rewarding, but being quiet does not hold the same appeal. You must use his favorite thing, rubber tennis ball, tug toy, chicken or liver. This makes the opposite behavior (quiet) almost as rewarding as what you have previously asked him to do.
He will probably be surprised when he gets rewarded for being quiet and that is good, if he continues to be quiet reward him again, and again until he begins to understand.
Now you may move the toy or wait until he barks, then wait for the moment he is quiet.
You may use something like the introduction of a new noise to get his attention and therefore render him quiet. Sometimes clapping your hands, using a whistle or using a command while he is barking will get him to briefly quit long enough for you to click and reward. Be sure you get the MOMENT he is quiet; in other words don’t wait too long until the moment is gone and he gets ready to bark again.
After you have taught your dog to bark, you may begin to see the behavior at irritating moments. He will bark, because he is trying to do the things that you have taught him that have once been rewarding.
It is critical that you NEVER again reward him for barking on his own! Only reward the bark if YOU ask for it.
And, if you have a consistently irritating barker…you are simply going to never ask for the bark again.
That doesn’t mean he will never choose to bark again. He is not going to go mute, he is just going to learn to be quiet when you tell him!
He will learn that if he wants to play, or get a treat, or do what you want he needs to be quiet in order to get what he wants.
Again the motivator is crucial, if you can’t find something substantial enough for him you and your commands might not be enough to get him to stop.
So use a jackpot of chicken breast, fresh liver, or his favorite game when you tell him quiet and you have a much better chance that he will leave whatever he is barking at and give you your way when you ask him to shut his mouth.
I have a dog that we use to call “The Mouth of the South” because she barked at everything when we brought her home. But now, I can tell her when she can and can’t use it. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t bark when someone comes up the driveway or to the door, she does, but when I tell her to be quiet she does so, because she wants to play ball with me 😉
Learn to control your dog’s voice and you and he will be much better off!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.