How to Train Your Dog to Be Quiet

Medium
4-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

A recent ad posted went something like this: “Looking to rehome small terrier. Barks lots. Let me know if you’re interested, and I will jump the neighbor's fence and bring it to you!” 

Nobody likes a dog that barks, cries or whines constantly. Not only is your dog annoying you, but your dog can make you pretty unpopular with friends and neighbors in a hurry if he cannot learn to be quiet when appropriate. While it is natural for a dog to bark sometimes, to warn you someone or something is approaching or to communicate a need with you, such as “let me in”, a dog that barks all the time, for no reason, or one that vocalizes constantly when left alone, needs to be corrected before they become a nuisance.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your dog to be quiet will make him a much more pleasant pet, and keep him from disturbing your family and your neighbors. Being able to direct your dog to ‘be quiet’, and have your dog cease barking, or vocalizing, and possibly initiate an alternative behavior is extremely useful both at home and away from home. The sooner you teach your dog to be quiet, as a puppy, the easier it will be, but older dogs that have developed a barking habit can also be taught to be quiet, it just takes a little longer.

If your dog is in the habit of barking due to boredom, or to get your attention, correcting the behavior may involve providing an alternate way to occupy your dog and removing any positive reinforcement for barking. Although, it may seem counterintuitive, one of the most effective ways to teach your dog to be quiet starts with teaching him to ‘speak’ on command. Once you have designated this as a behavior that can be directed, directing your dog with a ‘be quiet’ command can be accomplished more easily.

Getting Started

Teaching your dog to be quiet requires consistency and patience. Make sure everyone in the household is involved to keep training consistent. Avoid yelling at your dog when he barks, as your vocalizations sound like barking to your dog, and he may think you are just joining in. You will need treats to reward appropriate quiet behavior, and possibly an assistant to create situations in which your dog barks.

The Barking on Command Method

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Step
1
Trigger barking
Allow a trigger to occur that causes your dog to bark, such as someone approaching the door. Say “speak” when your dog starts barking, let him bark a few times, then provide a treat. A good smelly treat held in front of his nose will cause him to stop barking to get the treat.
Step
2
Reinforce 'speak'
Repeat step 1 over a period of several days, until your dog will speak when you provide the speak command. This makes him aware of his behavior and puts it on command.
Step
3
Teach 'quiet'
Find a quiet environment free of distractions. Give the speak command, followed by the ‘quiet’ command. Do not raise your voice for the quiet command. When your dog stops barking, wait a few seconds then give him the treat. If he continues barking, wait for him to stop barking, repeat the ‘quiet’ command, and then reward.
Step
4
Trigger again
Move to a more distracting environment, have someone ring a doorbell, or take your dog into the yard where a squirrel is present or another dog is across the fence. Wait for your dog to start barking and work on the ‘quiet’ command in the more distracting situation.
Step
5
Repeat 'speak' and 'quiet'
Repeat daily for several weeks, practicing the ‘speak’ and ‘quiet’ commands in a variety of circumstances, until you can reliably command your dog's vocalizations.
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The Reward Quiet Method

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Step
1
Confine
Confine your dog in an area where he will not disturb others, like a crate in the house or garage.
Step
2
Ignore
When your dog starts barking from boredom, or to get attention, completely ignore him. Do not yell at him, touch him, or even look at him. Do not give in for any reason or your dog will bark even longer next time.
Step
3
Reward
When your dog stops barking or vocalizing, even for a few seconds or to catch his breath, give him attention, praise him, and provide a treat. Let him out of the crate or confined area.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat the process. On your next session, require your dog to stop barking a little longer before providing a treat and releasing him.
Step
5
Extend
Continue to extend the time required until your dog learns that barking will be ignored and being quiet will result in reward. If your dog barks from boredom, provide him with something to do, such as a puzzle feeder or chew toy, to help him entertain himself during this process. Reward your dog when he stop vocalizing and plays with his toy.
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The Desensitize Method

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Step
1
Identify
Identify your dog's barking trigger. A cat, the doorbell, the vacuum cleaner, or whatever gets him vocalizing uncontrollably.
Step
2
Provide trigger
Create the trigger. If necessary, have an assistant come to the door, ask a neighbor to bring their cat into the yard, etc. Keep your dog the maximum distance away possible, or muffle the sound, with ear plugs for your dog, or a cloth stuffed in the door bell ringer, so that your dog does not immediately start barking when he sees or hear the stimulus.
Step
3
Reward quiet
Provide your dog with lots of yummy treats and attention when the stimulus occurs and he does not bark.
Step
4
Increase trigger
Gradually bring the stimulus closer or make it louder. If your dog barks, do not provide treats, but if he remains quiet, give lots of treats and attention. You are teaching your dog to associate the stimulus with positive reinforcement.
Step
5
Repeat
Repeat over a number of days, it may take several weeks to desensitize your dog to the stimulus and teach him that he will be rewarded for being quiet in the presence of the stimulus.
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Written by Amy Caldwell

Published: 11/14/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Mochi
Rottweiler Mix
5 Years
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Question
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Mochi
Rottweiler Mix
5 Years

So my dog is a shelter dog that was abused prior to being given up. This has caused her to be vocal towards some humans in the form of barking. We have to walk down narrow halls to get to the door to let her out to go to the bathroom and I think she feels threatened with a chance of being confronted when another human walks past us towards the opposite direction, and I genuinely can’t get her to not vocalize in situations like that. I can’t provide more distance between us and the other person, and because she’s so close to the other person, she’s not responsive to high-value food rewards. I also can’t take her on long walks or to the dog park for an energy outlet because she’s heartworm positive and excessive activity to exacerbate the heartworms. I also don’t know if having the person coming down the hall feed her would be a good option because she has shown aggressive tendencies in the past.

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Carol
terrier
5 Years
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Carol
terrier
5 Years

Hello Our dog was one and a half years old when she joined our family and lives with me and my husband I used to work and teach her to stay home alone and stay at home easily I lost my job after Corona and I stayed at home for six months and at this time we had to change house and move to a new house. Now our dog is very dependent on me and is not alone and I do all the exercises to be alone but it makes noise The new building in which we live was conditioned by the noise of the pet Please guide me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sahar, At the risk of loosing your housing if the barking is not addressed, I recommend the following. First, pup needs to be crate trained to help build independence. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below and work on that method to get her used to you being out of the room while she is crated. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate She also needs to build her independence and her confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into her routine if you haven't already done so. Things such as making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets by obeying a command like Sit first. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate when the door is open as well as closed. Give her something to do in the crate or on Place during the day while you are out of the room (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ If doing the above is not sufficient, I recommend doing the below in addition to it, as needed. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of pup's life too. Second, purchase a Pet convincer. DO NOT use a citronella spray, make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). Next, set up a camera to spy on her. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear her but she will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Set up your camera to spy on her while she is in the crate and leave. Spy on her from outside or another room - whatever normally triggers the barking. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear her crying or see her start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, quietly return, spray a small puff of air from the pet convincer at her side through the crate wires, without opening the door, then leave again. Every time she barks or tries to get out of the crate, correct, then leave again. After five minutes to ten minutes of practice, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back into the room where she is and sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting when she barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when she stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes a session at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, while she is quiet, go back into the room and sprinkle more treats. This time stay in the room. Do not speak to her or pay attention to her for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When she is being calm, then you can let her out of the crate. When you let her out, open and close the door again whenever she tries to rush out, until she will wait in the crate with the door open. Once she is waiting calmly, tell her "Okay" or "Free!" and let her come out. You want her to be calm when she comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home - so that she isn't building up those emotions habitually anticipating your arrival home each time. That is why you need to ignore her when you get home right away also. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Also, for longer alone times give her a food stuffed Kong into the crate/room with her. Once she is less anxious she will likely enjoy it even if she didn't pay any attention to it in the past, and that will help her to enjoy alone time more. First, she may need her anxious state of mind interrupted so that she is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give her a food stuffed Kong in the crate for her to relieve her boredom instead of barking, since she will need something other than barking to do at that point. Regularly practice her staying on Place and in the open crate while you are home and leave the room as well. Finally, teach pup the Quiet command to make communication with her clearer. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark When you are home, also make sure you are exercising her both mentally and physically - regularly teaching and practicing obedience commands or tricks, and incorporating those commands into her day is one way to stimulate mentally - such as practicing heel, sit, and down during a walk or game of fetch, having pup do a command before giving her something she wants, and feeding meals in dog food stuffed chew toys or or things like automatic treat dispensing devices like autotrainer or pet tutor, or kong wobbles. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rodi
Yorkshire Terrier
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Rodi
Yorkshire Terrier
8 Months

Rodi is jumping all over and has already broken his back leg and now one of his front leg ... he needs to stay 10 days in a small cage to heal ( had an operation and now has an implant ) . He is crying and barking the entire night - we can’t sleep and we tried to take him out of the cage during the day to be with us but he started jumping again . We are supposed to keep him 10 days in the cage ( walk him to pee and back in cage ). How can we make sure he does not bark and cries at night or during the day ... it’s very hard on my spouse . She was usually going to his place every night when he started crying ... but we never kept him in a cage before the accident . Tough on him I suppose . He is also not use to answer any command.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
914 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lionel, Check out the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. I recommend rationing out pup's kibble to them throughout the day to avoid overfeeding and make crate time more enjoyable for him. You will need to skip ahead in the method to the part where the door is closed instead of going this gradually, but you can implement giving pup treats for being quiet in the crate, and gradually waiting longer and longer before giving pup another treat again as pup improves, to stretch the Quietness out. Surprise method https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate When you do have pup out of the crate, I would keep pup tethered to you with a hands free leash also, to help prevent some of the jumping. Finally, I would speak with your vet about safe options that can help pup feel more at ease while confined. Things like CBD for dogs might be recommended to help pup manage stress in such situations, without pup having to be fully drugged, but I am not a vet, so I highly recommend speaking with them about what would be a safe option. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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