How to Train a Poodle to Not Bark

How to Train a Poodle to Not Bark
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon2-4 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Poodles and other small dogs often get a bad rap for barking. Sometimes this is due to truly excessive barking from a high strung, anxious personality, or it may be that the Poodle is confined to a small house or apartment, has excess energy to burn off, and is lacking in exercise and play opportunities. Sometimes your Poodle may legitimately be barking for the same reason that any other dog would bark. A dog may bark because something triggers him, like a strange noise or sensation, thunderstorms, other dogs or vehicle sounds, or because he is trying to protect you. Although he may be small in size, he has the same instinct as any other dog. Sometimes your Poodle may be excited about a guest or play, or may be anxious or bored because he has been left without exercise, play or attention for too long. A Poodle will bark, much the same as most dogs in these circumstances will bark. You can train your Poodle to not bark, especially if barking is inappropriate, for your peace and everyone else in your household and neighborhood! However, first make sure you address your Poodle's needs for exercise and recognize legitimate reasons for barking.

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Defining Tasks

When your Ppoodle is barking, it is tempting to yell “No!” However, your vocalization may sound to your dog like you are just joining in with him in barking!  It also escalates your dog’s mood and excitement, which seldom is effective at counteracting barking, so avoid yelling at your dog to deter barking behavior. Ignoring barking and not rewarding it is more effective to extinguish barking. Alternatively, you can put barking on command, which may sound counterintuitive. But in teaching your dog to bark for a reward, you are also teaching your clever Poodle not to bother barking if a reward is not offered. Remember that Poodles are very social dogs,that need positive interaction, attention, and exercise. Meeting your Poodle’s needs will be helpful in preventing unwanted barking behavior. Don’t forget to investigate possible causes for barking. Your Poodle may seem overly excitable sometimes, but he may legitimately be warning you of a perceived danger, or alerting you to something that has his attention.

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Getting Started

Use treats to reward and reinforce responses to commands to bark and stop barking. Be prepared to be patient and consistent when extinguishing barking, which will involve ignoring and not responding to barking. This will require some self-discipline, as it is tempting to correct a dog that is persistently barking. You will also need to be sure you meet your Poodle’s needs for attention and exercise, in order to decrease boredom and anxiety barking. Take some time to investigate possible legitimate causes of barking; is your dog trying to alert and protect you? Is he hearing or seeing something you are not, like an approaching storm or a high pitched sound? It may be that your Poodle is onto something. Be sure not to correct legitimate behavior as it can be confusing for your dog.

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The Extinguish Method

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1

Ignore barking

When your Poodle starts to bark, ignore him, turn away from him, or walk into another room.

2

Attend to quiet

When your Poodle stops barking, give him attention or start playing a favorite game or with a toy and your dog. Give him a treat.

3

Do not punish barking

Do not yell or respond when your Poodle barks, always ignore barking and continue to respond to your dog when he is quiet.

4

Repeat

Repeat, ensure everyone in household is consistent with ignoring barking and reinforcing quiet.

5

Establish

Eventually your Poodle will recognize that barking gets no results, while being quiet results in play, food, affection and attention. This will result in reduced barking behavior.

The Set Up for Success Method

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Check for legitimate barking triggers

Investigate the initial causes and triggers of barking, is there a legitimate reason your dog is barking? Is he hearing a far off siren, or sensing an approaching thunderstorm? If this is the case, redirecting or comforting him may be appropriate.

2

Burn off energy

Exercise and play with your Poodle. Poodles are high energy dogs and need to burn off energy to relax. If your Poodle may be barking from anxiety or elevated mood, make sure he has the opportunity to burn that energy off.

3

Socialize

Socialize your Poodle. Small dogs may have learned to be intimidated by large dogs or strange people. If owners hold small dogs like Poodles in their arms and tense up when approached, they can inadvertently be causing their Poodle to bark. Be sure to expose your Poodle to lots of situations in a calm, assertive manner, so your dog is comfortable with others and new situations to decrease triggers and anxiety.

4

Provide entertainment

Provide toys and chew items when you cannot give your Poodle attention to give him an alternative focus and prevent anxiety and boredom.

5

Desensitize

Desensitize your Poodle to triggers by gradually exposing him to them and creating a different association. For example, if the approach of a delivery person triggers your Poodle to bark, train your Poodle to be calm around delivery people by reinforcing him positively when delivery people approach, or meeting delivery people outside and walking alongside them. Whatever works to change your dog's response to the trigger.

The On Command Method

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Allow trigger

Wait for something to trigger your Poodle to bark.

2

Pair command

When your Poodle starts barking, say “speak,” and provide a treat. Repeat several times.

3

Command bark without trigger

Now use the command to speak without a trigger present. When your dog barks, provide a reward. Repeat.

4

Add 'quiet' command

Now ask your Poodle to 'speak', then say “quiet”. When your dog stops barking provide the reward.

5

Do not reinforce undirected barking

If your dog barks when not commanded to speak, do not reward him. Continue commanding “speak”, and “quiet” and giving rewards. Eventually you will be able to use “quiet” to stop un-triggered barking. Your Poodle will be less likely to bark when not commanded to, as no reward is forthcoming.

Written by Laurie Haggart

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/11/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Mocha

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toy poodle

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Two Years

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Question

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I live in an apartment. My dog barks when she hears noises coming from the outside. I need her to stop barking as I fear it will disturb the others.

June 5, 2023

Mocha's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, First, I recommend teaching the Quiet command. Check out the Quiet method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Check out this barking series, and especially the video on barking at strange noises. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 6, 2023

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Lucy

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miniature poodle

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7months

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My dog doesn't like being left alone at home and barks. I have tried leaving for a little time and increasing the time away, but she just barks and howls. I have since purchased a bark deterrant but now she is barking at that. Please help as my neighbour are now complaining

Jan. 9, 2023

Lucy's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, It you are using a citronella spray to correct or a noise deterrent, I would use a different tool. Noise deterrents can be effective for some dogs, but quiet a few just bark at the stimuli, not understanding that they can stop the noise by being quiet. Citronella lingers for a long time after being released, and the scent can be very harsh to a dog's sensitive nose, so pup ends up being corrected not only while they are barking but even after they have stopped barking, making it hard for them to understand that they can stop the correction by being quiet. Pup needs to make the connection between their barking and the correction, to learn how to stop a correction by being quiet, and to learn how to calm themselves and handle more independence from you without constant anxiety. Right now it sounds like pup doesn't know how to calm themselves and doesn't understand how to prevent a correction and be quiet instead. To address those things, the first step is to work on building her independence and her confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into her routine. Things such as making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that she does not anticipate alone time and build up her anxiety before you leave - which is hard for her to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give her something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Also, practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. If pup does fine out of the crate and the case is mild, you can do this in a dog proofed room instead of crate, but if pup is destructive when left alone or has potty accidents, pup is probably being given freedom out of the crate too soon, and needs to be crated while you are away until she is past that destructive phase around 18 months; this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time on its own for some dogs with more severe cases. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building her independence and structure in her life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU Second, you will need an interrupter, such as an electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing only high quality brands though. For example, E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator or Garmin Delta Sport or Dogtra for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell - punisher lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation e-collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on her. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear her but she will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on her while she is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if she responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning her head, moving her ears, biting her fur, moving away from where she was, or changing her expression. If she does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when she is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing her reaction at that level until she indicates a little bit that she can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and she will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for her and have it correctly fitted on her, have her wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on her while she is in the crate. Put her into the crate while she is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on her from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear her barking or see her start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time she barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate the collar again. If she does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after her collar being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. She may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or two more levels on another collar with less levels right now though because she has not learned what she is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if her level is 13 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 16 right now. The level you end up using on her on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for her. If she continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting her from outside when she barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when she is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to her or pay attention to her for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When she is being calm, then you can let her out of the crate. When you let her out, open then close the door back if pup tries to rush out, repeating until your dog is not rushing out when you open it. You want her to be calm when she comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore her when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with her also. She may not want it right now, but once she is less anxious after training, she will likely enjoy it and that will help her to enjoy the crate more. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 10, 2023


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