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It's a running joke in the family that your home will never be burgled. Indeed, you have no need for a burglar alarm because the dog does a more than adequate job. Indeed, for such a small dog the Dachshund has a surprisingly powerful (not to mention deafening) bark that makes him sound more Rottweiler than Doxie.
However, things have gone too far. He now barks at anything and everything, and the neighbors are complaining. And you can understand their point of view, especially when you can't watch a TV show without the dog barking at a cat on the screen.
However, stopping him from barking is a whole lot easier in theory than in practice. You've tried shouting at him and leaving him in the yard, but the noise is getting worse, not better.
What to do?
Dachshunds are bold dogs who like the sound of their own voice. Indeed, there's something about that long low body that seems to act like an amplifier and gives him a bark out of proportion to his small size. Dachshunds are also protective and territorial by nature, which doesn't help because he's permanently on alert to see off intruders.
Teaching a Dachshund not to bark is no easy task, but it can be done. The wise owner uses a number of strategies such a removing trigger factors (obscuring the view through a window), distraction techniques, and use of the 'Quiet' command.
If this sounds of interest to you then read on!
Training a Dachshund not to bark requires a lot of patience, both on your part and that of your neighbors! However, don't despair because you can make a difference and live in a (largely) bark-free zone.
Teaching the skill of 'silence' requires an understanding of dog psychology and the importance of timing, plus rewarding good (i.e. silent) behavior. It's also essential to be aware of the pitfalls that an unsuspecting owner can fall into, which accidentally reinforce their doxie's barking behavior.
To get started you'll need:
- Tasty bite-sized treats
- A treat bag so that the rewards are always handy
- A mat
- A toy to distract the dog with
- A cafe-style curtain or frosted-glass effect for the lower window.
The Distract the Dog Method
Understand the idea
Let's say the dog has a habit of barking excessively when visitors come to the door. You can't then hear what the guests are saying and gives the impression the dog is out of control. One solution is to give the dog an alternative activity to do, in order to distract him. Many dogs will fall silent when they are busy with a different command. Suitable actions include going to a mat or bed, or fetching a special toy. (The latter has the added benefit that when the dog holds something in his mouth it helps to muffle the barks.)
Fetch a toy #1
This technique has the dog fetch a favorite toy and offer it to you in anticipation of a reward. Find a toy the dog really likes, perhaps a cuddly toy or a squeaky. Make it extra special by playing with it one-to-one for a few minutes every day but then removing it so the dog doesn't get bored with it.
Fetch a toy #2
Start training the dog to fetch the toy, but without any distractions (such as the door bell going). You will introduce the other factors later, once the dog is reliably fetching the toy. Start by moving the toy to make it exciting and then praising the dog when he takes it. Have him sit, and then give him a treat when he gives up the toy. Toss the toy so that he gets it back again, and give him lots of praise.
Fetch a toy #3
Now, instead of giving the dog the toy, routinely toss it away so that he scampers after it and brings it back to you. Give him lots of excited praise and a small treat reward. Do this several times. At the end of the session, bring things to a close with a high value, long-lasting treat such as a chew bone.
Fetch a toy #4
Now add in the doorbell. Engage the dog in fetch with the toy. When he's really into the game, have a friend ring the doorbell once. If the dog barks, immediately distract him with the toy. Then when he brings the toy back, praise him and give a high-value chew bone as a reward. The dog now has something more interesting than bothering about the door and retires to his bed to chew. Ultimately, learn to keep a toy handy by the door, so you are prepared to distract him when visitors call for real.
The Teach 'Quiet' Method
Understand the idea
You can train a dog to fall silent on command when he first understands the "Bark" cue. By teaching the dog to bark, he can then be rewarded for the opposite - the absence of barking we call 'quiet'. You are then able to put silence on cue and reward the dog, hence cutting him off mid barking session.
This sounds bonkers for sure, but teaching the dog to bark on command is essential to teaching 'quiet'. Work out some way of making the dog bark. Something as simple as standing with your back to the wall and knocking on it with your fist, usually does the trick. Knock, and when the dog barks, say "Bark" in a happy voice. When he woofs, praise him and give a treat. Repeat this several times.
Have the dog bark
Now try saying "Bark" ahead of knocking on the wall. If the dog woofs, congratulations, you have put barking on cue and can move onto the next step.
Use "Bark" to make the dog woof. Praise and reward him. Give a treat and while he's eating the treat, gently hold his muzzle and say "Quiet". Immediately give him another treat to reward the silence. Repeat this.
You'll get a feel for the quality of the silence after the bark. When the dog is paying more attention to you, looking for a reward, than to barking, then you are ready to try and silence him mid-bark. This time say "Bark" and wait. Let him bark a couple of times, then say "Quiet" ahead of giving the treat. If he falls silent, give him max praise and a treat. Well done! Now you just need to practice... plenty.
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Do: Give the dog lots of exercise
Your Doxie may have little legs but he still needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Be sure to play with him regularly and take him for walks, along with regular obedience training sessions. This helps prevent boredom, which matters because a bored dog will find his own amusement, which for a Dachshund usually involves barking.
Don't: Shout at the dog
Shouting at a barking dog only gets him more excited and rewards him with attention. The dog may even believe you are trying to join in and making a poor job of it. Either way, don't shout at him to be quiet, it's not a long-term solution (even if it does make you feel better).
Do: Ignore or quietly acknowledge barking
If the dog does an experimental bark, ignore him. This avoids the pitfall of accidentally rewarding the bark with attention. However, if he barks when the mailman comes to the door, he's trying to warn you about a potential threat. Simply saying, "Good job, Fido, I hear you. I have this now," may be all the reassurance he needs to stop barking, safe in the knowledge he's done his job of alerting you.
Do: Remove triggers to barking
If your Dachshund lies on the sofa back and barks at people passing the window, then there is an obvious trigger. The trick here is to prevent him seeing the people walking by. Do this by putting the sofa in a different location or by obscuring the view from the lower half of the window. A cafe-type curtain or using a frosted glass effect spray on the lower part of the window are both effective ways of doing this.
Don't: Leave the dog out in the yard all day
Barking is habit-forming. If you leave the dog in the yard all day he will get bored and bark at people walking by, leaves fluttering, or moving shadows. Instead, take him for plenty of walks or have him go to doggie daycare if you are out all day.
By Pippa Elliott
Published: 02/23/2018, edited: 01/08/2021