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.
Recommend training method?

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.
Recommend training method?

The Distraction Method

Effective
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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
836 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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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
836 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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Question
Ginger
German Shepherd
12 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ginger
German Shepherd
12 Weeks

Barking while when my wife and I are sitting together

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Jess
German Shepherd
18 Months
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Question
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Jess
German Shepherd
18 Months

Jess is well behaved while my partner is home but once he leaves for work she acts up and it's getting worse. She barks as soon as she smells a dog going by the house she also barks at people walking past the garden. While out for walks she loves to play with other dogs and speak to people so this behavior is only displayed at home. She has recently started to bite me at times as well. She is exercising daily and is trained to do basic tasks ie sit, lie down, paw, spin and find the toy. I don't know what else to do to get this behavior to stop I execise her and try to keep her distracted but she still barks. When we leave her alone in her run she barks at people going past the garden, digs big holes and trys to bite her way through the wire on her run despite having plenty of toys water and food.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, It sounds like the issue is a lack of mental stimulation and respect for you specifically - which is why the behavior isn't happening when your partner is home - she may respect them more than she does you. I suggest hiring a professional in-home-trainer to work with you because of the biting. Look for someone who specializes in behavior issues and aggression, comes well recommended by their previous clients, and uses both fair corrections, structure and boundaries, and positive reinforcement. Pup needs to work on things like a structured heel, long place command, Quiet command, Leave It, working for everything they get by having to do a command first - like sitting before you put food down, down before throwing a toy, Come before petting, Wait before going for a walk, ect...Working on that type of structure will also help with some of pup's hyper activity, in addition to listening to you. Because pup has been biting you, you need to work with a professional to do this safely; if done incorrectly without the right safety measures, pup will likely bite you in protest to the new rules. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Toby
German Shepherd
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Toby
German Shepherd
2 Years

Barks while out walking if people walk towards us and are close, but the area isn’t big so it can’t be avoided

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kate, Is pup aggressive when people approach or simply over-reactive? If pup is only barking and is not otherwise aggressive toward strangers, I recommend the following video to help desensitize pup. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=LXCELHDT2fs&index=11&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a If pup is also aggressive, additional training will be needed with a lot more safety precautions to ensure no one is bitten - in that case, I would reach out to a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression, and works with a team of trainers who can practice being "strangers" to practice around pup carefully with the skills needed to help pup. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Bailey
German Shepherd
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Bailey
German Shepherd
2 Years

We just recently got bailey a few days ago from a family that said she was just to much to handle (mom dad and 3 girls) in my home there are 7 of me hubby 2 girls 2 boys and my oldest daughters boyfriend. My hubby and daughters boyfriend are both African American. At first I though she just didn't like men but I have been able to get her use to my boys but my hubby and daughters boyfriend I cantseem to get her to get her to be comfortable with them. She is a little aggressive and constantly barking at them. She took to me immediately and seems to be very protective of me already. Please help I want our home to be her forever home.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
227 Dog owners recommended

Hello there. It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to provide you with information on how to correct this behavior. You won’t be able to solve your dog’s overprotective behavior in one day. In the meantime, you don’t want to put your life on hold. You can still invite guests into your home as long as you prioritize managing your dog’s behavior. You’ll need a short-term strategy to start showing your overprotective dog what behavior is unacceptable while also keeping your guests safe. There are a few ways to do this. Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash while friends are visiting gives you control over your dog’s actions. Leash him up before the doorbell rings and keep him close as you greet your guests. During the visit, you can let the leash drag and only use it if you have to. Muzzle: If you feel his behavior warrants the use of a muzzle for the time being while you work on solving this problem, then it may be a wise choice. Separate Room: Your dog won’t get better without practice, but sometimes you have to weigh the risks versus rewards. If your overprotective dog is in the beginning stages of training, keeping him separated from guests might be best. You don’t want to put a friend’s safety at risk or needlessly stress out your dog. As long as you keep working toward stopping the behavior, separating an overprotective dog from company is a temporary management solution. Start Obedience Training Obedience training is a must for every dog, and it’s especially important for overprotective dogs. Working with your dog on things like “sit-stay,” “down-stay,” and “heel,” will help build his impulse control. He’ll start seeing you as a capable leader and will turn to you for guidance. A mistake many pup parents make is stopping obedience training once their dog masters the basics skills. Being well-trained is about more than knowing how to sit when a person holds a treat in front of their face. It’s a lifetime lesson, and even senior dogs need regular training. Commit to training your dog several times a day for short periods of time. Make Your Dog Work for Affection You can’t help but smother your dog with love every time he’s within petting distance, but that isn’t always what’s best for him. He will start to feel entitled to your attention, and that’s part of the problem. To remedy this, initiate a “work for it” program that allows you to show your dog affection as long as he earns your attention in appropriate ways. Make him sit, stay calm, and do whatever else you ask before doling out whatever it is he wants. If he’s excited for dinner, make him sit and leave it before digging in. If he wants in your lap, ask him to do a trick first. Never give your dog attention if he rudely nudges your hand or barks in your face. He needs to know polite behavior, and polite behavior only, is how he gets what he wants. You ignore everything else. Involve Other People in the Dog’s Life Most overprotective dogs choose to guard only the person they feel closest to. It’s usually the same person who fills their food bowls, takes them on walks, and handles training. They become obsessively attached, and a strong bond gradually mutates into overprotective behavior. Putting some space between you and your dog will help him learn to trust other people. Enlist the entire family’s help and take a step back in your role as primary caregiver. Have someone else feed the dog a few times a week, and encourage other people to engage her in playtime. This will help him be more comfortable with different people. Socialize Socialization is best done during the puppy stages, but even adult and senior dogs benefit from new experiences. Exposing your overprotective dog to new places, experiences, and people, will help him learn that not everyone is out to hurt you. Make sure each new experience is positive, and encourage your dog without forcing him to interact. If your dog is afraid, you don’t want to make things worse. Take socialization at the pace he’s comfortable with. If he seems overwhelmed, back up and try something a little smaller. These are some general ideas and they can be modified to fit your dynamic. These behaviors do take time, I am talking months, to correct. And sometimes the behaviors get worse before they get better. So just push through that time if that starts to happen. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Thank you for writing in!

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Demi
German Shepherd
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Demi
German Shepherd
11 Months

I need to be pointed in the right direction. I google many things and I’ve keep switching back and forth on how to train my dog. I am confusing her and myself.
I recently bought a shock collar that is controlled by a remote. I don’t want to use it wrong. Ive heard bad and good things. i am just tired of my dog barking at people, especially company. She went after a child the other day. She has fear and anxiety as well. I need help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sabrina, Shock collars can be effective training tools but they can also be ineffective or abusive. It has a lot to do with how you use it, which one you use, and your particular dog and what you are wanting to train. What you don't want to do is simply put the collar on your dog at the wrong stimulation level and correct with the collar when they do something unwanted - which is how shock collars, also called e-collars are commonly used. The dog needs to be introduced to the collar first with the collar off - to get them used to wearing it with it off. They need to be taught the commands and behaviors you want from them, so that they understand how to avoid the correction. You need to find the right collar level to correct at, called a dog's "Working level" - which is individual to your dog and what the lowest level your dog can feel the stimulation at is. Finally, the collar becomes a correction for pup doing something they have been taught not to do - very consistently and without you having to be right by pup for it to work always, and pup rewarded for doing the behavior you want them to learn instead. For example, for an off-leash Come, pup is taught come using treat rewards and a long leash first. Come is practiced a lot in a variety of situations on a long leash so pup knows it well. Pup understands praise means they did well, and "No" or "Ah Ah" means that was incorrect. Pup is introduced to a shock collar for a few days with it off, you find the right working level for pup, you clip the long leash on pup, and go somewhere pup tends to ignore your come command due to distractions like other animals. Command Come, praise and reward if pup comes willingly. Tell pup Ah Ah calmly and correct with the shock collar when they don't come after being told to, then reel pup in with the long leash at the same time you are correcting. As soon as pup starts to come toward you while being corrected and reeling in - the correction stops, and pup is praised and gets a treat when they get to you. The reeling in helps pup do what they are supposed to to keep the correction very short and show pup that the stop the correction they should obey. The combination makes everything clearer to pup, motivates pup to want to come still, isn't harsher than it needs to be - due to using the lowest correction needed for pup, then practicing enough to get consistency, and you have taught pup the skills needed to succeed before hand. Check out James Penrith from TaketheLeadDogTraining on Youtube. He trains similarly to the above. Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training and Thomas Davis from the Canine Educator are also a couple of resources on Youtube. They use more corrections than James does, but they also specialize in aggression, so you can see some of the obedience and structure that they work on with dogs, their e-collar how to videos for things like finding a working level, and how they work with different types of aggression - fear being a bit different than something like resource guarding, and using more reward based training with fear based aggression, to also help with counter conditioning. Unfortunately, there is a lot of debate about things like e-collars in the dog world so it can be quite confusing. E-collars are generally something I do recommend working with a professional trainer who trains similarly to James Penrith for because of all that's involved in using them effectively and more safely, especially with aggression and fearful dogs. I also generally recommend only using high quality e-collars that have a much larger range of stimulation levels, to ensure you can get the correct or low enough level to fit your dog's responsiveness - such as collars that have at least sixty levels - Garmin, E-collar technologies, Dogtra, or Sportdog being a few well respected brands. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Easter
German Shepherd
5 Years
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Question
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Easter
German Shepherd
5 Years

Hi my dog Easter barks at people,dogs,children,meal men I tried everything like spry bottles,cans with penny and bark callers I don't what do now what shops I do?please help improve my gsd to stop barking thanks Bonnie

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Bonnie, Pup likely has some fear or aggression related to the barking. It may be that the underlying fear or aggression needs to also be addressed. For fear or aggression, I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues, comes well recommended by their previous clients, and works with a staff of trainers so that pup can practice being desensitized and learning to associate people with good things. I would also teach pup the Quiet command. Quiet method and Desensitize method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark More desensitization videos: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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