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He may look menacing, but he also sounds pretty terrifying too. When your Doberman was a puppy, his barking wasn’t a problem. In fact, it was pretty entertaining. However, now he’s grown up and still won’t stop barking. It means the postman is terrified of delivering your mail. It means as soon as someone walks past your house they are ushered past to the sound of your Doberman. His barking is also dampening relations with the neighbors, who are fed up with listening to him bark at all hours of the day and night.
Training him to stop barking will bring you some much-needed peace and quiet. If you introduce a second dog into your home, training him to not bark will stop your new dog from picking up the bad habit, too. This training will also mean other dog walkers may feel more inclined to stop for a chat.
Training your Doberman to stop barking is a lot easier than most people realize. The first thing you will need to do is take a number of steps to deter him from barking in the first place. Once you have got him associating barking with negative consequences, you can then focus on using positive reinforcement. You will need to use obedience commands to first teach him how to bark on command, so you can then instruct him to be quiet, too.
If he’s a puppy, he should be a fast learner. This means you could see results in just a week or two. However, if he’s older with years of barking under his collar, then you may need up to six weeks. If you can get this training right, you won’t have to worry about introducing your friendly Doberman to guests and strangers ever again.
Before you can start training, you will need to get your hands on a few bits. A water spray bottle will be needed for one of the methods. You will also need high-value treats or your Doberman's favorite food broken into small pieces. A toy or two will also be required.
Set aside 10 minutes each day for training and try to find a time where you both won’t be distracted. Remember to be consistent and always end the training sessions on a high note.
Apart from that, you just need patience and some earplugs, then work can begin!
The ‘Quiet’ Method
Put your dog in a situation that you know is likely to trigger a bark. Then issue a ‘bark’ command in an upbeat voice. Before you can teach him to be quiet on command, you need to be able to instruct him to bark.
As soon as your dog does indeed bark, hand over a tasty treat. You can also give him some verbal praise. Make sure he gets his reward within three seconds of barking, otherwise he won’t associate the reward with the action. Practice this for ten minutes each day until you can instruct him to bark in a range of different situations.
Now, instruct him to bark and wait for him to fall silent. As soon as he does, issue a ‘quiet’ command. You can use any word or phrase you like. Dobermans can learn hundreds of different commands.
Once you’ve given the command and he’s stayed quiet, hand over a tasty reward. The happier your dog feels afterwards, the more eager he will be to repeat the behavior again. Practice this for a few minutes each day, but start to bring forward the ‘quiet’ command so you give it while he’s still barking. With consistent training he will soon associate the verbal command with falling silent.
You can now start using just the ‘quiet’ command whenever your dog barks. If you use it every time you catch him barking, you will slowly break his barking habit. You should also get anyone else in the household on board with training.
The Meet His Needs Method
Food & water
Some Dobermans bark because they are trying to tell you something. It may be that he is hungry or thirsty. Make sure you feed him at the same times each day and that his water bowl is kept topped up.
Your dog's barking may also be because he’s desperate to go to outside for a pee. Make sure he goes out after meals and before bed. If he’s a puppy, he may also need to go out at several other points throughout the day.
Spend a few minutes each day giving your lovable dog attention. Stroke him, play with toys and make sure he’s content. Dobermans can be needy despite their fierce appearance. If his barking is attention seeking behavior, this could remedy the problem.
Dobermans are big dogs who need a generous amount of exercise. Take him out for at least one lengthy daily walk. It can also help to throw a ball as you go. The walks will ensure he spends his time at home sleeping instead of barking.
You also need to make sure you use positive reinforcement. Give your Doberman a treat and verbal praise whenever he meets new people and doesn’t bark. You will soon get him associating being quiet with tasty rewards.
The Prevention Method
Radio & TV
If your Doberman barks because he can hear people approaching the house, then leaving the radio or TV on quietly could prevent the barking altogether. This is a quick and easy measure to test.
Close the curtains
Your dog may bark because he can see people approaching, so shielding his view could deter him from barking. You can close the curtains and blinds. Alternatively, you can keep him in rooms away from the front of the house.
Whenever your vocal canine barks, you need to be there to react consistently every time. Go over and give a firm ‘NO’ close to his face. You don’t want to scare him, but make sure he knows you mean business.
Water spray bottle
Carry a water spray bottle around with you. Then if he does bark, rush over and give a quick spray near his face. This will quickly get him associating barking with negative consequences.
Work on brushing up on your Doberman's obedience training. Stimulating your dog's mind is just as important as physical exercise. Practice 10 minutes a day. A dog who knows to listen to commands will adhere to the request to not bark.
By James Barra
Published: 02/20/2018, edited: 01/08/2021