How to Train a Poodle to Not Bark

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Set Up for Success Method

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Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
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The On Command Method

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Step
1
Allow trigger
Wait for something to trigger your Poodle to bark.
Step
2
Pair command
When your Poodle starts barking, say “speak,” and provide a treat. Repeat several times.
Step
3
Command bark without trigger
Now use the command to speak without a trigger present. When your dog barks, provide a reward. Repeat.
Step
4
Add 'quiet' command
Now ask your Poodle to 'speak', then say “quiet”. When your dog stops barking provide the reward.
Step
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.
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The Extinguish Method

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Step
1
Ignore barking
When your Poodle starts to bark, ignore him, turn away from him, or walk into another room.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
4
Repeat
Repeat, ensure everyone in household is consistent with ignoring barking and reinforcing quiet.
Step
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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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