How to Train Your Dog to Bark Softly

Easy
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

If you are like most dog owners, one of the first tricks you probably taught your pup was to "speak" on command. This handy little trick can then be used by your dog to tell you when he needs to pee, when someone is at the door, and many other things. And of course, with teaching him to speak you probably taught him the "quiet" command to get him to stop barking. This is also a good thing for your dog to know and can be used in many other types of skill training.

But why not go all out and teach your pup something different, something most other dogs never learn? Why not teach your pup to whisper? By this, we mean to bark very, very softly or make a sort of whuffling noise. Not only is this a great way to impress your friends, but when you live multi-family housing, it can keep everyone out of trouble. 

Defining Tasks

Essentially, what we are doing here is the same thing you did when teaching your dog to speak. The big difference here is that you will be using a different cue and he will be barking at a much lower volume. It is very important that you use a different command when you want your pup to use his "inside voice". If you try to use the same command, it will only serve to confuse your pup and render the training relatively unsuccessful.

Patience is the key, as is repetition. Even after you think you have your pup trained to bark softly, you need to continue practicing. If you don't, you may find your pup gets too excited and will bark at full volume instead of whispering. Once you have taught him this trick, he won't actually forget it, he will just need a reminder from time to time. 

Getting Started

Like most other new "tricks" you plan to train your dog to do, in order to train your dog to bark softly he should first have mastered the four basic commands of 'sit', 'come', 'stay', and 'down'. At the same time, teaching him to whisper will go much more quickly if you have already taught your pup the 'speak' and 'quiet' commands. As for supplies, the only things you really need are:

  • Treats: For training and as rewards.
  • Toys: You can use his favorite toy, a chew bone, anything your pup is likely to vocalize about and try to tell you he wants it.
  • Patience and time: Like most tricks, the key to success is being patient and taking all the time your pup needs to master this trick.

This trick involves working hard to teach your pup to do something that does not come naturally to him. Rewards and lots of praise will a long way towards helping your pup understand what you are trying to get him to do. 

The Gentle Whisper Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Have a seat
Call your dog over and have him sit in front of you.
Step
2
The stare
Stare your pup right in his eyes and very quietly say "Whisper" or your choice of cue words. Repeat this until your dog barks at you, at this point it doesn't matter how loud he barks.
Step
3
Rewards on demand
As soon as your pup barks tell him "Good whisper" and give a treat. This helps your pup to start getting an idea of what you are trying to teach him.
Step
4
Volume control
Now that you have your pup barking when you say "whisper" it's time to start turning down the volume. This time only give him a treat when his barks are lower in volume. He will soon figure out that he only gets treats when he barks at a lower volume.
Step
5
It's whisper time
Repeat the above steps, rewarding your pup on steadily quieter and quieter barks until he reaches what you consider to be his indoor voice or whisper. With time and patience, you can start showing your friends this nifty little trick.
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The Day by Day Method

Effective
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Step
1
The big mistake
The big mistake, or so it might seem, was teaching your dog to speak. Now he barks loudly for everything. Observe your dog when he is barking--you are looking for those times when his bark is quieter than the rest.
Step
2
First rewards
For the first week give your dog a treat every time you notice even the slightest drop in volume.
Step
3
Weeks two and three
During these weeks, you will be working your way down until you are only giving your pup treats when his bark is half the volume it was when you started working with him.
Step
4
Working your way to a whisper
During the next week or so (it may take longer) keep rewarding your pup only when he barks at the desired whisper volume.
Step
5
Continued training
Most dogs can master this within a few weeks. But even then, you should continue to work with your pup in regular training sessions and your pup should learn that when he is in the house, he is expected to whisper.
Recommend training method?

The Treat Method

Effective
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Step
1
A quiet place
Start in a nice quiet part of the house where no one will bother the two of you while you train. You will also need a bag of treats for this.
Step
2
Call your pup
Call your pup and have him come in and sit in front of you.
Step
3
Holding a treat
Hold a treat in your hand where your pup can see it. Wave it around until your dog starts to get excited and barks. When he does give him the treat. Practice this until he barks every time.
Step
4
This is where it gets serious
This time when your pup starts to bark at the treat, give him the "Whisper" cue and just like you would with a child, shush him with one forefinger in front of your mouth quietly saying "shhhh". When he starts to bark more quietly, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Step
5
The rest is all on you
The rest of making this training successful is repetition and training. The more time you can spend working with your dog, the faster he will learn this new behavior. Now you can impress your friends by having your dog whisper in front of them.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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