How to Train Your Dog to Not Bark When Playing

Medium
1-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Playing with your dog is one of the most fun moments of his day. He gets to release some of his energy, spend time with his favorite person, and play games that he loves. Sometimes your dog might get over-excited and start barking. While this is most likely because he's having fun, it can be annoying or even considered a nuisance by neighbors. While this barking behavior may be more likely displayed by certain dog breeds like Border Collies or Australian shepherds, it can happen with any dog that gets a little too excited about ball throwing or playing.

It is possible to teach your dog not to bark when playing, but it may take a few steps to make sure he understands that loud noises are not part of playing the game with you. With some patience and good training skills, you can help him learn that barking won't get him what he wants. This is a useful skill that will work just as well in a crowded park as it will in your home. 

Defining Tasks

Barking is a natural behavior and your dog won't understand that it's undesirable for you at first. However, being able to signal your dog to stop barking is important to keeping neighbors, landlords, and other folks at the dog park happy and excited about your dog. Repeated loud barking is a sure way to get on someone's bad side, and it makes playing less fun for you. Some dogs will pick up on this skill faster than others. Herding dogs may have an especially difficult time learning not to bark because they have been bred to use their "voice" to communicate. With extra patience and consistency, they can pick up on the commands and learn to stop barking when you play. With this skill, you can make staying quite a fun part of playtime or even a signal that the game is over.

Getting Started

You won't need very much to get started, and you can begin anywhere you usually play with your dog. Changing a behavior that comes naturally will be difficult at first, so a large dose of patience will be most important. Consistency throughout your training is key. Here are a few props to have on hand when you begin the training. 

  • His favorite throw toy, ball or a stick.
  • Dog treats you can reward him with.
  • A pouch to keep treats available and your hands-free.

Teaching your dog not to bark while playing will be well worth the time it takes to get him to stop. Each dog is different, so read through the three methods below to find the best option for your dog. Pretty soon play time will go back to being fun and engaging for both of you. 

The Quiet Method

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Step
1
Teach your dog to bark
This may sound counter-intuitive, but teaching your dog to bark on command will help teach him to stop on command.
Step
2
Mark the bark
To begin, try to get your dog to bark. When he does, say "yes" and give him a treat.
Step
3
Introduce the "bark" command
When he begins to understand what you want, say "bark" after he barks and give him a treat.
Step
4
Test the command
Soon he should be able to bark when you say the word. Test him by asking him to bark and decreasing the number of times you treat him.
Step
5
Wait it out
Don't treat your dog when he barks before you give him the command. If he barks when you aren't asking him, ignore the bark. When he's quiet, say "bark" and give him a treat after he barks. This way he learns that he only gets treats when you ask for the bark.
Step
6
Introduce the 'quiet' command
Once he can bark on command, introduce him to 'quiet.' Ask him to bark and when he does, hold out a treat in your closed fist. As soon as he stops barking to smell, say "quiet" and then open your fist and give him the treat.
Step
7
Practice
Practice asking him to 'bark' and then to be 'quiet' until he starts to understand that when he stops barking he gets the treat. Practice this in different parts of the house, in the park, and in many other situations.
Step
8
Introduce during play
Once he's comfortable, introduce 'quiet' during playtime. When he starts to bark, stop playing and say "quiet." Give him a treat when he does. Soon he should stop barking when you give the command, even when he's excited about playing with you.
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The Stop Play Method

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Step
1
Begin playing with your dog
Start off your training session like any normal play and wait for him to start barking.
Step
2
Stop playing when he barks
As soon as he starts to bark, stop playing.
Step
3
Turn your back on him
Turn your back to face away from him to make sure his barks are not rewarded.
Step
4
Wait three seconds
When he stops barking, wait three seconds and then turn around.
Step
5
Start playing again
Pick up right where you left off until he barks again.
Step
6
Repeat
Repeat this process each time he barks when you play, no matter what. With consistency, he will learn that barking is no fun and he should stop.
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The Last One Method

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Step
1
Begin play as normal
This works for dogs who demand you continue playing by barking at you. Begin playing with your dog like normal.
Step
2
Tell him "last one"
When you are ready to be done, say "last one" right as you throw the ball or stick for the last time.
Step
3
Stop playing
Stop playing with your dog and pack up.
Step
4
Ignore any barking
When he starts to bark to get you to play again, ignore him. You can turn your back or begin walking away.
Step
5
Be consistent
When you've said "last one" to your dog, do not throw the ball or stick again when he barks.
Step
6
Make it a habit
When you make this command part of your routine, your dog will eventually learn that "last one" means playtime is over, and he will stop barking. It could take a week or a few months depending on the dog, but once it's a habit for both of you, barking should not be an issue.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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