Always remember to keep these tips in mind while training:
- Don’t yell at your dog to be quiet — it just sounds like you’re barking along with him.
- Keep your training sessions positive and upbeat.
- Be consistent so you don’t confuse your dog. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately.
- Remove the motivation
Your dog gets some kind of reward when he barks. Otherwise, he wouldn’t do it. Figure out what he gets out of barking and remove it. It may be that you shout at him — to a dog this may not be seen as reprimanding, and instead as attention from you.
2. Ignore the barking
Ignore your dog’s barking for as long as it takes him to stop. That means don’t give him any attention at all while he’s barking. Your attention only rewards him for being noisy. Don’t talk to him, don’t touch him, and don’t even look at him. When he finally quiets, even to take a breath, reward him with a treat.
To be successful with this method, you must wait as long as it takes for him to stop barking. If he barks for an hour and you finally get so frustrated that you yell at him to be quiet, the next time he’ll probably bark for an hour and a half. He learns that if he just barks long enough you’ll give him attention.
3. Desensitize your dog to the stimulus
Gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing him to bark. Start with the stimulus (the thing that makes him bark) at a distance. It must be far enough away that he doesn’t bark when he sees it. Feed him lots of good treats. Move the stimulus a little closer (perhaps as little as a few inches or a few feet to start) and feed treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (treats!).
4. Teach your dog the “quiet” command
It may sound nonsensical, but the first step of this technique is to teach your dog to bark on command. Give your dog the command to “speak,” wait for him to bark two or three times, and then stick a tasty treat in front of his nose. When he stops barking to sniff the treat, praise him and give him the treat. Repeat until he starts barking as soon as you say “speak.”
Once your dog can reliably bark on command, teach him the “quiet” command. In a calm environment with no distractions, tell him to “speak.” When he starts barking, say “quiet” and stick a treat in front of his nose. Praise him for being quiet and give him the treat.
5. Ask your dog for an incompatible behaviour
When your dog starts barking, ask him to do something that’s incompatible with barking. Teaching your dog to react to barking stimuli with something that inhibits him from barking, such as the sit command.
6 (BONUS!). Keep your dog tired
Make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is a good dog and one who is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration. Depending on his breed, age, and health, your dog may require several long walks as well as a good game of chasing the ball and playing with some interactive toys.