How to Train a Golden Retriever to Stop Barking

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It’s a classic story. The mailman dares to venture up your front path and suddenly, your happy, calm Golden Retriever turns into a barking machine. She is desperate to alert her family to the dangerous intruder who is approaching her house. This behavior is normal, especially since Golden Retrievers are generally quiet, calm dogs. However, when a habit such as excessive barking goes unchecked, it can turn into an annoyance for both you and your visitors.

Defining Tasks

Training your Golden Retriever to stop barking is a tricky process. Barking is the way dogs communicate, so you can’t expect her to stop altogether. Training a dog to stop barking is like training a person to stop talking. But you can train her to bark only in acceptable moments and help minimize the disruption. The amount of time it takes to train your Golden Retriever depends on her personality as well as your consistency. It can take as little as a couple of weeks, if you are patient and consistent in your training.

Getting Started

With a behavior like barking, you don’t want to scold your dog. Instead, you want to reward her when she is quiet or stops barking quickly. Keep some training treats on hand and use them to reinforce the behaviors you want to encourage. There are a few methods of training your Golden Retriever to stop barking, which you can adapt to suit your dog's personality and your needs.

The Quiet Method

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Step
1
Choose a command word
One way to prevent your Golden Retriever from barking is to teach her the command word “quiet.” You can also use “stop," "enough," or a similar word. Whatever word you choose, be consistent with it. Whenever you want your dog to stop barking, you should use the same word.
Step
2
Give your dog a barking opportunity
Create a situation which will make your Golden Retriever bark by ringing the doorbell or having a friend approach the house while she is inside.
Step
3
Use your command word
Hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose and say your chosen command word in a calm, low voice. When she stops barking and is quiet, use a marker word such as “good” or “yes” and give her the treat.
Step
4
Make 'em wait
As your Golden Retriever begins to get the hang of the command, wait longer and longer after she stops barking to give her the treat. The goal is for her to associate the act of being quiet with getting a treat so she understands that 'quiet' is the desired behavior.
Step
5
Proof the command
Like any command, you need to be patient and continue working with your dog to make sure she gets the hang of it. You can try adding in other distractions after the initial act that excites her. If she can stay quiet after an additional doorbell ring, you know the command is working.
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The Barking Method

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Step
1
Decide when you want your Retriever to bark
While it may seem backwards, teaching your dog to bark on command can help stop her from barking at inappropriate times. By associating barking with a command, you can teach your Golden Retriever that she can’t bark whenever she wants. A good time to have your dog bark and add a command is as a way to ask for her dinner, but you can decide when you want to train.
Step
2
Only reinforce the behavior you want
Choose a command word, such as “speak,” and only reward your dog with a treat and attention when she barks after being given a command. If your dog barks when you don’t want her to, turn your back or face away from her to show you don’t like the behavior.
Step
3
Reward your Retriever when she doesn't bark
As your dog gets good at barking on command, start rewarding her at random moments when she is quiet. After a few times, your Retriever will wonder why she is receiving treats and start trying to repeat the right behavior.
Step
4
Keep it up and be consistent
Pay close attention to your Golden Retriever’s behavior over the course of a few weeks. It is much harder to notice to a quiet dog than a barking one, so remember to closely observe your dog’s behavior to be sure you are rewarding her when she is quiet.
Step
5
Wean her off the treats
Once your dog seems to have the hang of both sides of this method, barking and staying quiet, you want to start replacing treats with other forms of positive reinforcement. Other types of rewards include her regular kibble and loving pats from you.
Recommend training method?

The Good Dog Method

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Step
1
Set up a distraction you can control
When you first start working on this method, you want to create a situation where you can manage your dog’s behavior in a way that mimics her natural behaviors. For example, if your dog tends to bark when someone walks by the window, have a friend stand outside to cue her barking.
Step
2
Get your Retriever's attention
When your dog starts barking, call her name in a calm voice to divert her attention from the window to you. As soon as she looks at you and stops barking, say “good dog” and give her a high value reward, like a tasty treat.
Step
3
Practice and then practice some more
Continue practicing, both in a controlled setting and in random, real life moments. Whenever your dog starts barking, distract her by saying her name, say "good dog", and reward her. Remember only to reward the behavior you want to reinforce and don’t give her a treat unless she stops barking.
Step
4
Say "good dog" before your Retriever barks
Your dog will begin to associate the phrase “good dog” with getting a treat. Keep an eye on your Retriever and when she sees something that would normally make her bark, say good dog without using her name. She should turn to you, expecting a treat, which will stop her from barking.
Step
5
Phase out the treats
Over time, consistent rewards for quiet behavior will encourage your Golden Retriever to minimize her barking. Remember you can’t expect your dog to stop barking altogether. However, by rewarding her for quiet, she will start to think twice before barking and look to you for guidance.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Christina Gunning

Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Rosie
Golden Retriever
7 Months
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Question
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Rosie
Golden Retriever
7 Months

My 7 month old retriever Rosie constantly barks at me trying to either get me yo do something or wanting things , I don’t know how to stop her , she’s very stubborn and if she doesn’t get her own way she tries to bite n nibble on me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tanya, I would start by working on pup's general relationship with you. Check out the article I have linked below and the three methods found there. I would choose two or three of those methods to practice to help gain pup's respect for you gently and calmly. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would also teach Quiet, Place, Leave It, Out, and Drop It. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it I would give pup more to do, by using pup's meal kibble ration to stuff puzzle toys, dog food stuffed kongs, kong wobbles, and similar toys pup can entertain herself with. Finally, once pup understands the new rules, when pup disobeys a command or rule she has already been taught in order to get your attention, you may need to use an interrupter as a consequence. A pet convincer is one example of an interrupter. To correct with a pet convincer, you would calmly tell pup "Ah Ah" and spray a brief puff of air at pup's side (avoid spraying pup in the face and only use unscented air, not citronella). If you find pup is still responding by acting out when you use the pet convincer, you may need a way to correct that's less direct, which would be something like a remote training collar so you have a way to enforce commands without having to give additional attention. The correction should be on pup's working level, which is the lowest level pup indicates they can feel when standing and calm when you test ahead of time, and corrected only for something pup knows and chooses to disobey, giving pup better options, like a toy to choose instead. How to and fit video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Only correct for things pup has already been taught and knows well, which means you need to intentionally practice commands like Leave It, Quiet, and Out a lot, and correct only for direct disobedience after giving pup a command like Leave It when they are mouthing, or Quiet when barking, and pup continuing to mouth or bark after. I would also spend more intentional time training with pup every day in general to help stimulate pup mentally too, teaching the above commands can be what you work on first during that time. Just 15-30 minutes of training practice a day can make a huge difference in your relationship with pup, how calm pup is, how much self-control pup has, the level of communication you have with pup, and pup's overall training and manners. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Charlie
Golden Retriever
7 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Charlie
Golden Retriever
7 Months

My dog Charlie barks at every thing that makes a noise or just for fun. My parents can't sleep at night and have considered getting a shock collar for him. We can't get him to stop. Please help

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Storm, Tools like bark collars can be useful, but they are gentlest and most effective when you combine them with some other training to help pup understand to be quiet and have the self-control skills to obey, then the bark collar is a tool for enforcing that training, with pup understanding and being able to be quiet if they choose. First, for the barking, you need a way to communicate with him so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - which will be a form of correction - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar, bark collar (stimulation based, not citronella), or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of interrupter for most dogs. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella because it's actually very harsh due to how sensitive a dog's nose is, and because the smell lingers so pup is being corrected even after they are quiet, which is unfair and confusing to the dog. You want any correction to stop the second the dog stops the behavior. Also, avoid spraying in the face!). An e-collar, aka remote training collar, uses stimulation to interrupt the dog. Only use a high quality e-collar for this, such as E-collar technologies mini educator, Dogtra, SportDog, or Gamin. A good collar should have at least 40 levels, the more levels the more accurately you can train - finding the lowest level your dog will respond to, called a "Working level" so the training is less adverse. In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". This type of collar will correct pup more gently than a standard bark collar with less levels in most cases, but you have to be present to use it. If they obey your Quiet command, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting an e-collar - it should be put on while he is calm, just standing around - Ideally have him wear the collar around for a while before starting any training so he won't associate the training with the collar but just with his barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the level to use for him (sometimes you will have to go 1 or 2 levels higher during training while the dog is aroused but once he improves you can usually decrease back to his normal level again) - this training level is called a dog's "Working level": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. An automatic bark collar can also be used during times when he likes to bark while you aren't there after the initial training is done - so he understands that the correction is for his barking at that point in the training. Some collars like Garman, have both settings. I have found mixed results with the effectiveness of the bark collar part of this collar - it seems to depend on the length of the dog's fur, how reliable that collar is. While you are not home, confine him in a crate or room that doesn't look out the windows right now - barking at things out the window lets him practice the bad behavior over and over again and barking is a self-rewarding behavior because of the arousing chemicals released in a dog's brain - so once a dog starts he is naturally encouraged to continue it and stays in that state of mind if you aren't there to interrupt. If pup hasn't been well socialized I would also spend time exposing him to new things, rewarding him with treats or kibble you carry with you, whenever pup responds calmly, curiously, or generally well around something new. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
pluto
Golden Retriever
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
pluto
Golden Retriever
10 Months

my dog is a nice cute little golden retriever, but when it comes to situations that he might bark in, he goes insane, he barks at people down the road, cats, dogs, neighbors, a toy[ while he is playing the toy is out of his reach so he keeps barking at it] and strangers if they came into our apartment.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Salma, Check out the Desensitize and Quiet methods from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I also recommend checking out this video series on barking, which focuses on desensitizing dogs to specific things they tend to bark at. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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