How to Train a German Shepherd to Not Bark

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Life has been a whirlwind adventure since you introduced your German Shepherd into your life. His endless energy means he’s always charging around with the kids or at your lap begging for food and attention. You take him out for a decent walk each day, but he still has the energy to be watchful, alert, and protective of you and your home. Unfortunately, he also finds the energy to bark at anyone that approaches the door, or even walks past your window.

Training him not to bark will bring a number of benefits. Firstly, you will get some peace and quiet. You also won’t continue to put a strain on relations with the neighbors, who are fed up with the noise. Finally, guests and other dog walkers won’t be scared of him if he can remain quiet.

Defining Tasks

Once a German Shepherd has found his voice, training him to stay quiet can prove challenging. However, it is definitely possible. The first thing to do is employ a number of deterrence measures. You will also use obedience commands to teach him how to bark on command, so you can also train him to be quiet when instructed. The right incentive will play an essential role in training. Luckily, German Shepherds eat pretty much anything edible, so motivating him with delicious treats should be simple.

If he’s a puppy, he should be eager to please and receptive to training. You could see results in just a week or two. However, if he’s older and the barking habit has been years in the making, then you may need up to six weeks before silence is restored. Getting this training right is essential for both your eardrums and his social skills.

Getting Started

Before training can begin, you will need to collect a few things. A water spray bottle and a deterrence collar will be needed for one of the methods. You will also need a stockpile of treats or his favorite food broken into small chunks.

Set aside 10 minutes or so each day for training. But try and train at a time where you won’t be distracted by noisy kids charging around, getting ready for school.

Once you have ticked all those boxes, just bring patience, a proactive attitude, and some earplugs, then work can begin!

The Prevention Method

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Step
1
Curtains
If he barks at people walking past the window, then closing the curtains and blinds so he can’t see them may help. You may also want to consider leaving the radio or TV on quietly. If he doesn’t know anyone is approaching, the temptation will be removed.
Step
2
Water spray bottle
Whenever he barks, go over and give a firm ‘NO’. At the same time, give him a quick spray of water near his face. This will soon get him associating barking with negative consequences.
Step
3
Deterrence collar
You can also get your hands on deterrence collars that are triggered when he barks. Each time he does, an unpleasant spray of citronella will be emitted. This will quickly make him think twice.
Step
4
Don’t give in
If he barks for attention, it is important you don’t give in. You should give him the cold shoulder and turn away from him. If you give him what he wants (attention), you are only teaching him that barking is the right way to get his message across.
Step
5
Exercise
German Shepherds have a lot of energy. If he’s barking because he’s bored and needs to blow off steam, then you may want to consider giving him more exercise. An effective way of doing this is taking him out and throwing a ball for 10 minutes. A tired dog is a happy, but more importantly, silent dog.
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The Verbal Command Method

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Step
1
‘Bark’
Put him in a situation which you know will trigger a bark. When he is about to go for a walk or when you are preparing his food are likely occasions. Then issue a ‘bark’ command just before or as he starts barking.
Step
2
Reward
When he does indeed start barking, quickly hand over a treat. You can also shower him in verbal praise. Practice this for a few minutes each day. Then start practicing when he isn’t already in a bark inducing situation. Continue training until he barks on command consistently.
Step
3
‘Quiet’
Now put him back in a situation that will trigger a bark. However, as soon as he stops barking, issue a ‘quiet’ command. You can use any word or phrase you like. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and can learn hundreds of different commands.
Step
4
Reward
Make sure he gets a tasty reward as soon as he falls silent. In fact, the greater the reward the more likely he is to repeat the behavior again. Practice this for a few minutes each day. After a week or two, you will then be able to instruct him to bark and then to be quiet again.
Step
5
Application
Once he responds to the ‘quiet’ command each time, you can start using it whenever he barks in an unwanted situation. Use it every time and you will slowly break his barking habit. At which point you can enjoy some peace and quiet.
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The Distraction Method

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Step
1
Food puzzles
If he’s barking because he’s bored, simply keeping him occupied may put an end to his barking. You may just need to channel his energy into something more productive.
Step
2
Obedience commands
Teach him basic obedience commands, from ‘sit’ to ‘down’. Again, this should stimulate him and stop any barking that is a result of boredom or attention-seeking behavior.
Step
3
Play time
Make sure you spend a few minutes each day giving him attention. Play around with his toys, stroke him, and make sure he has all the love and attention he needs. This should reduce barking that’s a cry for attention.
Step
4
Encouragement
You can encourage calm play and being quiet. Give him the odd treat, for example, whenever he meets someone new and doesn’t bark. Do this regularly and he will slowly start to associate being quiet with mouth-watering rewards.
Step
5
Never punish him
Try not to punish him when he barks. If you terrify him, he may become aggressive. German Shepherds are incredibly strong, so you want to avoid this at all costs. Tackling aggression will be even more challenging than stopping him barking.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Carlos
German Shepherd
8 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Carlos
German Shepherd
8 Months

He barks at a lot of people

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tiffany, What are the circumstances surrounding the barking? What is his body language like? Are the people only strangers or people he knows to? Check out the article linked below on teaching Quiet and desensitizing him to the things he barks at. This approach is good for dogs that generally over-react or are nervous. If the barking is territorial, aggressive, possessive or protective, then additional training is needed. If there isn't any aggression present, then spend a lot of time getting him around people and rewarding him for calmness around people, going on walks with other people walking with you or having other people give him commands and then reward him for obeying are good exercises for puppies to learn trust while also learning a bit of respect instead of rude greetings - if there is aggression already, you will need professional trainer help from someone who specializes in aggression and uses both positive reinforcement and fair corrects and comes well recommended by other clients, to help get you to a safe place with him around other people. Quiet method and Desensitization method for nervous and over-reactive barking: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Check out Jeff Gellman from solidK9Training if you are also dealing with territorial, possessive, protective, aggressiveness, ect...related to the barking. Those issues will need to be addressed also to help the root cause of the barking is that's an issue too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Moose
German Shepherd
2 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Moose
German Shepherd
2 Years

I just adopted Moose 7 weeks ago. He plays with the neighbor dogs. He barks at them when they start playing it's a constant bark (their dog does it as well) I have a spritzer that I got from dog training but it doesn't make a difference. I tell him no, and be quiet and he is not responding at all. I've made him sit and regroup but that only lasts for a few minutes. He is amazing with everything else we've trained him. I seem to be having an issue getting this one figured out. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
460 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Is the barking happening while he is in the middle of playing with them, or watching them play without him next door at other times? If the barking is happening during him playing, then teach the Out command at calmer times, and once he knows it practice having him "Out" and take breaks from play when the barking begins. Keep a long drag leash on him - choose a rolled one without a handle to prevent snags so much- like a check cord used in hunting training, so that you can pick up the end of the leash and reel him in if he disobeys your command. The other dog owner will need to practice doing the same thing with their dog too, so that both dogs are taking a break when they get too excited. This should be done at the beginning of playing before they get overly worked up to keep things safer using the long leashes. Another option is to e-collar train an Out or Come command. Out command - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ If the barking is happening while watching the other dogs play from next door, then I suggest teaching the Quiet command: Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Once he knows Quiet, put a stimulation based bark collar on him with a manual setting so you can set the stimulation level (which tends to work best once you figure out what level to use - opposed to the auto-rise setting where the collar chooses the level for your dog). Do not use citronella for this but stimulation. Set the collar to the lowest level at first. When he starts to get excited watching the other dogs (even if he hasn't barked yet), tell him "Quiet". If he disobeys and barks, the collar should correct him automatically. If he doesn't get quieter after seven barks, take him inside to calm down, turn the collar level up one, then start over again when the dogs are outside for him to watch and he is calm again (either that same day or another day soon). Repeat turning up the collar by one, saying Quiet once, letting the collar correct him a few times for barking, and going back inside with him if he doesn't respond well to the collar, and turning the collar up one level more; do this until the barking starts to decrease a bit. When he gets quiet in response to the collar (this will take some practice for him to make the connection between the correction, his barking, and how to stop the corrections by becoming quiet), then reward with a treat when he can look at the other dogs and stay quiet - the treats are to help desensitize and train calmness instead, the calmer he is, the better - calm and ignoring the dogs is your ultimate goal - so reward those types of behavior and keep praise calm too. If he shows signs of redirecting his arousal into a bite, then hire professional help with this. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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