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Your Lab doesn't bark just to hear himself make noise. They bark to talk to other dogs, to alert you to potential danger, because they are scared or frustrated, and for any number of perfectly good reasons. One of these is to bark whenever strangers are around the outside of your home. But, there is good barking and bad barking. Your job is to bring out this natural behavior and train him to when it is appropriate to bark and when he needs to be quiet.
The task is to teach your Lab to bark on command rather than going off on barking jags whenever he feels like it. Your pup barks for a number of reasons, such as to tell you he needs to go outside, he needs food or water, he is scared, and when he feels the need to warn you about something he perceives as a danger to himself of the rest of the pack. The hard part is for you to be able to determine why he is barking and then take this knowledge into account when you train him to bark... or not to bark.
You can start training your pup to bark on command as soon as he is old enough to have been taught the basic commands of 'come', 'sit', 'down', and 'stay'. This lets him know who the alpha in the pack is and that he is going to be expected to master a number of commands. Along with letting your pup know who is the boss, it puts him in the mood to learn. Here is a list of supplies you might find come in handy.
- A tree
- A long
stick or pole
The other things you need are plenty of time and patience.
It is going to take plenty of both by the time you get your pup fully trained to
bark on command.
The Grab the Toy Method
For this you need one of your pup's favorite toys, a length of string, and a broom handle or strong stick of about the same length. You also need plenty of treats.
One the leash again
Put your pup on his leash and head out into your backyard. Using a tree or a fence pole, to tie the other end to. Keep in mind, you should never leave your pup unattended when he is tied up.
Create the lure
Tie the toy to the broom handle using the length of string. Keep the string just long enough, you can use the toy as a lure for your pup.
Here, catch this
Take the pole and tease your pup with the hanging toy. Do this until your pup decides he has had enough and barks. He is only going to bark once, so you need to be paying close attention. When he does, (the moment he does) be sure to praise him and let him chew on the toy for a few minutes.
Speak to me
The time has come to add in your cue word, "Speak" is a good one as it is different from any other command. When your pup lunges for the toy and looks like he is getting ready to bark, say "speak" and reward him when he barks.
Keep working at it
The rest is all about practicing with your pup until he will bark any time you give him the cue "speak." Mission accomplished.
The It Takes a Friend Method
Everyone needs a friend
This is especially true when you are trying to teach your pup to bark.
In the room
Bring your pup in the same room with you, but don't fuss over him, just keep an eye on him.
Ring the bell
This is the point in time where your helper rings the doorbell, causing your furry friend to bark. When he does, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this every couple of minutes to get your pup used to barking at the noise.
Workin' for a living
Keep working with your pup adding in the "speak" command as he gets ready to bark. This helps him associate the command with the action and the reward he gets at the end.
No more bell
Now it's time to see if he has it all figured out. Try giving your pup the command without the doorbell ringing. If he barks, be sure to praise and reward him with a treat. At this point there nothing left to do but keep practicing this trick and amaze your friends and neighbors.
The Too Much Excitement Method
Rev up your pup
Take your pooch out in the backyard and spend at least half an hour playing with him. Keep the play fast-paced and stimulating, you want your pup to be very excited.
Hide the treat
Take one of your pup's favorite smelly treats, place it on the open palm of your hand and let your pup get a good whiff of it. Close your hand over the treat and hold it behind your back out of sight.
One is the loneliest number
It won't take long before your pup can't stand the fact you are hiding his treat. At this point he is going to bark. It may be just one bark at first, but this is the one you need to catch. The moment he barks, give him the treat and praise him for a job well done.
You bark, I treat
Keep working on the training for a few weeks until your pup realizes that when he barks on command he gets a treat. Timing is everything and you need to catch your pooch just as he is getting ready to bark to make this training more effective.
Do what I say not what I do
It's time for you to add the "speak" command to the process. Keep a close eye on your pup and the moment he looks like he wants to bark, give him the command. Keep working on this training until your pup comes to understand that when you say "speak", he needs to bark.
By PB Getz
Published: 03/16/2018, edited: 01/08/2021