Some dogs bark incessantly — at birds, at cars, at people, at other dogs — and it really annoys their owners (and neighbors). I teach all my dogs how to bark on cue and also how to quiet on cue and I don't have any barking problems.
Worried about putting barking on cue? Afraid you'll just get the barking and not the quiet? It's possible, but only if you don't train the full behaviors and put them on cue. Here's how I do it with my dogs and there's a video of Talos demonstrating the behavior at the end of this blog entry…
- Have your clicker and some really tasty treats in a bowl on the table.
- Make a noise and click when your dog makes any noise, no matter how slight. Give your dog the treat immediately after clicking.
- When he's eating the treat, say "shhh" or "quiet" or whatever word you want to use.
- Click again because he's quiet [he's still eating the treat] and feed him again.
- When he finishes his treat, repeat steps 2 and 3 three or four more times.
- After the fourth or fifth repetition, you'll now begin telling your dog what he's doing — you'll be adding the cue (the signal) that tells your dog to start the behavior.
- So before you make your noise that makes the dog vocalize, say "Speak," or whatever word you want.
- Wait for your dog to make a noise, click and then treat.
- While your dog is still eating the treat say "shhh" and click and treat him for being quiet.
- Repeat these steps four or five more times.
- On the next trial, say "speak" and wait to see if your dog will vocalize with just the word as the cue (not the sound you've been making). If your dog attempts any sound, no matter how slight, click and treat.
Your dog will soon be speaking and shhhhing only when you ask for it. If you get some volunteer barking, simply ignore it. Don't talk to, look at, or otherwise interact with the dog. In fact, I usually get up and immediately leave the area the very first time the dog barks. The dog will learn very quickly that only those barks that are cued (asked for) will get rewarded.
Here's a quick video of Talos showing off his newly acquired skill. We'd only trained this for two three-minute sessions. Happy training!
Thanks for this excellent blog. I have a problem in that my dog, a one year old pointer, is normally very silent. I have tried making noise myself, and running YouTube videos of dogs barking, and so far he remains silent. He does bark at noises he hears in the middle of the night, and this is what I am trying to curb. Any other suggestions for getting him to make noise to get this on cue?
Thanks and regards,