A dog should be allowed to bark. After all, that is one reason we have dogs, to alert us. We would just like to control the “on and off switch”.
It’s the rare human who hasn’t yelled at their dog, “Quiet or Shut Up”, when the dog is barking at the doorbell, a noise, or at you to get your attention. We think that if we raise the volume of our voice, this will create the energy needed to get our dogs to respond. An explanation of why we yell comes from our closest relatives, the chimp, who moves up the social ladder by making the most noise with screams and throwing things about. But, dogs don’t respond as primates do. Dogs view our loud vocalizations as a lack of control and a sign of fear. While a loud noise can get the dogs attention, it doesn’t get their respect.
There are several reasons a dog barks. Watchdog barking tells an intruder to watch out, I see you. A fearful dog barks excessively. The louder the dog gets, the more panicked they become. Barking signals a call for help to the pack. Ask any multi-dog household, if one dog barks, they all come barking.
It’s pointless to try and stop barking by getting louder.
Practice this when your dog is not overly excited. Have a spouse or friend knock at the front door or ring the bell. Follow the steps in the above paragraph.
Set up this and other situations and practice over and over. When your dog is getting good at turning away from the door, wait for longer and longer silences before giving the treat.
This is not an easy thing to train. Barking is linked to physiological arousal and instinct, as some breeds are breed to bark. Be patient. It might take a few months of brief training sessions, about 5-10 times a week. But, it will be rewarding when you say “Enough” and your dog turns to you in silence, looking for a treat. Once it is learned, you can treat randomly.
Silly as it may seem, teaching your dog to bark on command gives you control to stop the barking by saying “enough” as stated above. Pick a stimulus that makes your dog bark, such as the doorbell. Have someone outside the door ready to ring the bell. You say “Speak”, the person outside rings the bell, which makes your dog bark. After several repetitions, the command Speak will be enough to make your dog bark. Continue with the steps above to accomplish the “enough or quiet” command. At other times, when your dog has no reason to bark, get his attention, command “Speak”, after he barks, say “Enough”, wait for several seconds of quiet, then give a treat and praise “Good Dog”.
Last Updated: Friday, January 29, 2010