How to Train a German Shepherd Puppy to Not Bark

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Given that the German Shepherd was bred for herding and guarding herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, barking is your pup's natural way of warning you. At the same time, most Shepherds will bark just because they enjoy it and it burns off some excess energy. While this is all well and good for your pup, by the time he reaches adulthood and his bark hits max volume, your neighbors are likely to be less than pleased.

Keep in mind that you should never try to completely silence your pup, there are times when he still needs to be able to let you know what's going on. Such as when an intruder comes on your property or in your house, when there is a fire, or when he is startled. It is important that you understand the difference between nuisance barking and communicating. 

Defining Tasks

The task itself is to train your dog not to bark unless there is a good reason for it and to stop barking on command. This means you will need a command word; most people just use "Quiet!" as it is simple and effective. Use the same command each time to avoid confusion and use a firm commanding voice without sounding angry. Shepherds respond well to positive reinforcement training methods, but do not respond well to negative training methods such as being yelled at or struck.

The good news is that your furry friend comes from a long line of highly intelligent canines who are easily trained, love to have a job, and are always ready to please their family. As long as you remain consistent in your training, patient, and willing to spend the time needed to train your pooch, he will learn that there are only certain times when barking is perfectly okay. 

Getting Started

While it might seem odd, before you can teach your dog to stop barking, you need to teach him to bark on command. This will help set the stage for when you start training him not to bark unless you tell him to or he has an acceptable reason. You really don't need much in the way of training supplies, your supply list should include:

  • Tons of treats
  • A quiet place to train
  • Time
  • Patience 

The most important thing you need is the ability to remain calm and keep working with your pooch until he finally understands what you want of him. 

The Speak Your Piece Method

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Step
1
Start with plenty of treats
Your pup will respond far better to positive reinforcement training methods, which of course means you need to make sure you have a large supply of your pup's favorite treats.
Step
2
I have something to tell you
Wait until the next time your pup decides to set off on a barking fit. But do not try and stop him, just keep an eye on him and let him speak his piece. Eventually, he will get tired of hearing his own voice.
Step
3
The sound of silence
The moment your pup decides he has assaulted your ears for long enough and stops barking, say "quiet", praise him and give him a treat. The idea is to reinforce the idea that he gets the good stuff for not barking. Repeat this step over the course of several days.
Step
4
Add the command
Now start adding in the "quiet" command as he stops barking. Again, we are playing an association game in which your furry friend learns that the command + stopping barking earns him praise and a treat.
Step
5
And further on
To complete the training, start increasing the time between when he stops barking and you give him the treat. The goal is to reach the point where the command is enough, and he no longer needs a treat. Once he figures this all out, he should only bark when absolutely necessary or you tell him to 'speak'.
Recommend training method?

The Tell Me Everything Method

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Step
1
Pup on leash – leash on pup
Give your pup the 'come' command and hook him up to his leash. This puts you in the captain's chair and your furry friend in the "ready-to-learn" mode.
Step
2
You have something to say?
With your pup in the 'sit' position, give him the 'speak' command and give him a moment to say something before you introduce him to the 'quiet' command. Be sure to use a strong voice that lets your pup know who's in charge without sounding angry.
Step
3
Wait for it
It might take a bit for your pup to stop making all that racket, but when he has had his say and quieted down, be sure to praise him right away and give him a nice treat. Rinse and repeat to drive this concept into your pup's brain. Be patient, it might take a while.
Step
4
Let's do the time warp again…
Now that your pup has learned to be quiet on command, the next step is to start building up your pup's endurance by adding to the time between when he stops barking on command and when you give him a treat.
Step
5
Go for broke
Keep working and working with your pooch using the command and treat method. In time, start eliminating the treats. The more you work with your pup, the less likely it is he will bark unnecessarily, driving everyone crazy.
Recommend training method?

The I Hear Nothing Method

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Step
1
Pick up a pack of treats
Put a pack of your pooch's favorite treats in your pocket so they are handy when you need them to reward your pup.
Step
2
Kick start the bark
Take your dog to one of the spots around your house that typically sets off his bark box. Hang out with him, playing with him and getting him a little excited (this may help get him started barking).
Step
3
Oy! You!
Every time your pup gets it in his head to start barking at you, simply turn away from him and pretend you don't see or hear him. You may have to do this several times until your pup manages to figure out that barking at you doesn't do him any good at all.
Step
4
Ah, the silence
This will clue him in that he needs to stop making all that racket. When he finally stops barking, be sure to praise him and give him a nice treat.
Step
5
To the end of the road and beyond…
All you have to do now is keep practicing the training method in various locations at quiet and noisy times. Each time he remains quiet or stops barking on command, give him praise and a treat. In time he will simply stop barking as he finally realizes no one wants to hear it.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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