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As a tiny puppy, your doxie pup was silent. The only noise he made was the rustling of paper when chewing the mail. You'll never forget the first time he barked, it was so sweet. There was a knock at the door. His head tipped on one side and out of nowhere came this hesitant "Woof". It was so sweet, you clapped your hands and laughed. Rather pleased with the attention, he attempted another "Woof", this one louder and more confident than the first. And so he learned to bark.
How you wish you could have those early days back again, so this time you could react differently. With hindsight, you realize that paying him attention actually encouraged him to bark. And now you have a full-on barking Dachshund whose voice can be heard halfway down the street.
A good place to start is at the beginning. When teaching a dog not to bark, it's best to start with a puppy. Not only are young puppies geared to learning, but it's also a time when an owner can benefit from being on their top game. This is because many owners accidentally teach their dog to bark, by how they react when the little one woofs. What has to be remembered is that what's cute in a tiny puppy, can become aggravating as a full barking adult dog.
Dachshunds in particular as a vocal breed who love the sound of their own voice. Because of this, it's easy for an owner to shout at the dog to be quiet, which to the Dachshund sounds like they're trying to join in.
Teaching a Dachshund puppy not to bark is a combination of how you react when they bark, mixed with teaching the 'quiet' command for those times when you really do want silence.
To train your Dachshund pup not to bark requires regular work and practice. It's also important that all family members know how to react when puppy barks, so that he gets a consistent message and doesn't become confused.
You will need:
- Training treats
- A treat bag so rewards are always to hand
- A squeaky toy to distract the puppy
The Reacting to Barks Method
Understand the idea
What dogs love most (apart from snacks) is love and attention. In a dog's mind, any attention is valuable, even if this means Mom is cross. Therefore how you react to an unwanted behavior such as barking, is important. By shouting at a dog to be quiet, you can accidentally reward him with attention and make the problem worse. Hence, it's crucial to know how to react when puppy barks.
The first woof
When puppy does that first adorable woof that makes your heart swell with pride....try not to react. Don't make a fuss or coo over the pup, as this teaches him cause and effect. In other words: I bark and Mom makes a big fuss. Guess what! This makes him want to bark more.
OK, so you ignore the dog woofing at the doorbell and he carries on barking. What to do now? One option is to say in a conversational voice "Thank you, Sausage, I have this now." This is because, contrary to what we just said, some dogs need to have a bark alerting you to visitors acknowledged. If he is telling you "Mom, there's someone at the door.", then if you ignore him, he may think you didn't hear and bark some more. Simply by letting him know in a low key way that you did hear after all, is all he wants.
OK, so you've tried ignoring him and then acknowledging the bark, but still he does it. What next? Distract him! Get a squeaky toy and play with it while ignoring the pup. Play like it's the best toy you've ever seen. Pretty soon the pup will think he's missing out and come to join in. At which point, give him lots of praise and reward him with a game with the toy.
Teaching him not to bark also means rewarding the behavior you do want, which is silence. If pup barks, you ignore him, and he quiets down...then praise him and give a reward. In future, this encourages him to fall silent after one or two woofs.
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Shout for silence
To hammer the point home further, never shout at the dog to be quiet. He's likely to think you're trying to join in but making a poor fist of it. In his excitement that Mom is pretending to be a dog, he'll bark even more. And then there's the fact that you took notice of him... which means he now knows that barking it an attention winner.
Do: Reduce triggers to barking
If your Dachshund pup has a favorite spot on the sofa back, from where he watches the road and parks at people passing by, then obscure this view. Frosted glass-effect sticky back plastic applied on the lower half of the window can block the dog's view and reduce his barking dramatically.
Don't: Accidentally reward barking
The dog barks. You need him to be quiet and give him a chew stick which you know will shut him up. Ooops. What you just did was reward the barking with a chew stick. Guess what? Next time he fancies a chew he's going to bark...
Do: Be aware barking is normal behavior
It is unrealistic to expect a Dachshund to be completely silent. Barking is part of their character and it's an entirely normal behavior. The trick is to manage the barking and keep it at reasonable levels.
Do: Expect barking to get worse before it gets better
If your pup already has a barking habit, and you start to ignore it, then know the barking will get worse before it gets better. When you don't respond, the pup thinks you haven't heard so he dials up the volume and the length of time he barks for. This is a phase he has to go through, before he realizes that you mean business and aren't taking any notice... at which point he quiets down.
The Teach 'Quiet' Method
Understand the idea
This is quite an advanced command so don't be disheartened if a very young pup finds it difficult at first. However, persevere and you will get both barking and silence on command. First, you put barking on command (Mad, isn't it? Who wants their dog to bark?) and then you can teach 'quiet'.
Put barking on cue
Most dogs will bark when they hear someone knocking on the door. Mimic this sound as a useful way of encouraging the dog to bark. Try standing with your back to a wall or door, and knocking on it with a fist behind your back.
Label barking as "bark"
When the pup barks at your phantom knock, say "bark" in a happy voice and praise him. Then give him a treat.
Make use of the chewing
Whilst the puppy chews his reward for barking, he can't make any noise. Gently hold his muzzle closed (to reinforce the point) and say "quiet". Release his muzzle. If the dog remains quiet, say "Good" and give him another treat.
Practice 'bark' and 'quiet'
Practice this plenty, first barking, then giving a treat and rewarding the silence. An ideal is to train at least a couple of times a day, for around 5 - 10 minutes each day.
Now try 'quiet' with spontaneous barking
Your eventual aim is to be able to interrupt spontaneous barking with a 'quiet' command. It can be helpful to use an extra tasty treat on this occasion to act as an added incentive.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 01/26/2018, edited: 01/08/2021