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.
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.
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.