Sometime ago we wrote a blog about this topic, but as San Francisco gradually reopens and people are slowly getting together at others homes (after 15 months of staying away), our Canine Enrichment Team is getting asked a lot: How Do I Get My Dog Not to Bark. The short answer: you really can’t and you may not want to, but you can get your dog to be quiet. Here’s the difference.
Why is my dog barking?
That domesticated dogs bark is no quirk of fate: we’ve spent the last several thousand years breeding dogs to bark and to serve as (you guessed it) watch dogs. It’s really too much to ask for a dog not to do his or her job and unfair for us to get upset when they perform their assigned task. Rather than getting upset because your dog barks, focus on teaching your dog the “quiet” command. Of course, you can use any words for quiet as long as you’re consistent in your usage.
How do you stop a dog from barking?
Here are some easy steps to get your dog to stop barking:
- Get Some Help To Train Your Dog To Stop Barking: Teaching a dog to be quiet requires two people: one to provide the stimuli (i.e., ringing your doorbell) and yourself to provide the command and reward.
- Select the Stimuli: If the issue is your dog barking when people come to the door, pick that as your first stimuli. Have your volunteer walk up to your door and knock or ring the bell. For many dogs, just having someone walk up to the door will start them barking. Now you just have to let your dog bark (but hopefully not for long).
- Command, Wait & Reward: Once your dog starts barking, use your “quiet” command once. Really, just say the command word once, if you say “quiet-quiet” that becomes the command word, not just “quiet.” If by some chance your dog is quiet after the command word, reward like crazy! If your dog keeps barking, don’t repeat the command word, just wait for your dog to stop barking (even if just for a moment to catch their breath) and reward like crazy. You want your dog to associate rewards with barking cessation.
- Repeat & Repeat Again: After thousands of years of breeding, it’s going to take a few times for a dog to learn that when he stops barking he gets a reward. Like all dog training, it is a matter of time, patience, repetition and consistency. Use the same command word, wait for the desired result and reward! Your dog will still bark when the doorbell rings or someone approaches your house (which is probably a good thing) but you’ll have a quiet dog, a quiet house, and probably happy house guests all with a single command and some rewards.
Thanks for reading. If you have specific questions about your dog’s behavior or questions as to why your dog might be barking or doing something, give our K9 Enrichment team a call: 415.282.0700.