How to Train a Rat Terrier to Not Bark

Medium
3-9 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Your Rat Terrier has a lot to say. In fact, it seems like your pup never stops barking. While having a guard dog who will bark at threatening strangers is great, your dog doesn't just bark at the doorbell. He barks at the TV, at the birds in the yard, at the sound of a door closing, even at the wind. If you don't find a way to stop your chatterbox from barking soon, you think your neighbors might call the police. Training your Rat Terrier to not bark is as important for your reputation in the neighborhood as it is for your own sanity.

Defining Tasks

Rat terriers were bred to hunt small game. This type of dog spent generations digging underground to reach rats, badgers, and other small animals. If the ground fell in on them, they had to bark a lot to signal their location. Terriers, in general, are tough, active dogs with a strong watchdog instinct. They have a lot of energy and often, barking is a signal that your pup isn't getting enough exercise. Teaching a Rat Terrier to not bark requires patience and consistent positive reinforcement, but it can be done. Remember: you should never yell at your dog when they bark. To your terrier, yelling sounds just like barking and will only encourage them to continue.

Getting Started

As you get started training your terrier not to bark, keep in mind that your dog is barking to communicate, in the same way humans speak to each other. They are trying to let you know that something isn't right in their world, so don't expect a dramatic change overnight. You will need plenty of tasty training treats to work on this skill as well as a trigger to prompt your Rat Terrier to bark. It is best to choose something that simulates what makes your dog bark in normal life, so you can teach them a better way to react.

The Distraction Method

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Step
1
Choose a distraction
If your Rat Terrier tends to bark incessantly and doesn't pause long enough for you to reward quiet behavior, select a distraction that can interrupt their barking, such as a loud clap or a bell.
Step
2
Prompt your dog to bark
When you are ready to start training, use a doorbell or some other trigger to make your dog bark. When your dog is in the middle of barking, use your distraction to interrupt and redirect their attention.
Step
3
Reward your pup when they're quiet
As soon as your Rat Terrier stops barking and is quiet, praise them and give them a reward. Make sure to you only to reward your dog when they are completely quiet.
Step
4
Repeat until your dog starts to understand
Use the combination of a distraction and reward to teach your pup to not bark. It may take a couple of weeks of consistent positive reinforcement before your Rat Terrier realizes the connection between the treats and being quiet.
Step
5
Replace the distraction with a command
As your Rat Terrier starts to respond better to the trigger, try saying "quiet" or a similar command instead of using the distraction. Give them extra treats for responding to the command word. Keep working with your dog until they respond to "quiet" every time.
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The Domain Method

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Step
1
Exercise domain
A dog full of energy has everything he needs to keep the barking going. Take your pooch on a walk a few times a day and throw a ball at the same time. Make him sprint, climb hills and jump over low branches. A tired dog will nap rather than bark to protect his domain all evening.
Step
2
Break it up
Provide plenty of chances for bathroom breaks. Sometimes a dog's bark is a signal for a need to pee. Take him first thing in the morning, within 10 minute of meals, and last thing before bed. Throw in a few extras, too.
Step
3
Know his needs
If the barking is a new habit, take your pup for a medical checkup to rule out an illness. Watch for an empty water bowl; this could cause your dog to bark. Feed him his meals on a schedule so that he doesn't bark due to hunger.
Step
4
Praise your dog while they stay quiet
Give your Rat Terrier several treats while they stay quiet. The treats help your pup keep their focus on you, rather than whatever is prompting them to bark.
Step
5
Repeat the rewards
Every time your dog stops barking, give him a treat. The treat is a valued incentive. Soon, he'll kick the habit and find less in his domain to bark about.
Recommend training method?

The Quiet Method

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Step
1
Trigger your pup to bark
To start training your Rat Terrier not to bark, you will need something to prompt them to bark. Stage a scenario which you know will excite your pup. Typically, ringing the doorbell or having someone knock on the door works well.
Step
2
Give the command 'quiet'
Using a firm tone of voice, but without yelling, tell your dog "quiet." At first, they won't recognize the word, but they may respond to your tone, especially if you have used it in other training exercises.
Step
3
Wait for quiet
It may take your Rat Terrier a few minutes to calm down. Wait patiently for them to stop barking. As soon as they are quiet, give them praise and a treat.
Step
4
Repeat the process again
Prompt your Rat Terrier to bark and repeat the same steps as before. This time, when your dog stops barking, say "good quiet" and give them a treat.
Step
5
Be consistent
Keep up this same method every time your dog barks. Use the command "quiet" consistently and only reward your Rat Terrier when they are quiet. Over time, your pup will realize that barking doesn't get them anything, while being quiet gets them a tasty treat.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Sasha
Yorkipoo
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sasha
Yorkipoo
10 Months

Sasha has a visitor, my brother! He is staying for a week after a move to help us unpack. Whenever Sasha sees him she barks despite friendly treats being given by him! He seems to feel that he needs to show he is the alpha dog so he tries to chase her to catch her to assert authority by putting his hand around her neck as a warning. To be fair Sasha barks at him incessantly and barked last night until 4 am without him around. Since he tried his last attempt to get her to obey she doesn’t act like herself. She’s not playing at all. She’s a feisty dog but also an extremely sensitive dog prone to shaking when upset. I’m not sure what to do to get her to stop barking at him. It’s been two days! He is our first overnight visitor but she’s terrible with all strangers in terms of incessant barking. Thanks for any help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hilary, First, know that what your brother is doing isn't the way to gain a dog's respect. It is the way to create fear aggression though, so chasing and grabbing her roughly needs to stop. That reaction from him will have set him back a lot with her. Honestly, he will probably not recover her trust from that in a week at this point. In general gaining a dog's trust is more about challenging their minds to get pup working with you, listening and paying attention. This is most commonly done through practicing certain types of obedience calmly with the dog, having pup work for what they get in life, such as food, touches, and play by doing a command, like Sit or Down first. Giving pup a lot of structure and boundaries is also an important part - having consistent rules and calmly enforcing them. Gaining trust is about being calm, consistent, rewarding pup for tolerant, calm responses (but not aggressive responses or you are just encouraging aggression), working with pup through things like a structured heel and working pup through new things like agility obstacles and certain types of tricks to boost overall confidence. While your brother is there, if he is willing to work with her correctly, he can go on a walk with you and her, starting from across the street and gradually getting close as she relaxes around him - require her to heel and reward focus on you and ignoring him. He can toss her treats whenever she is calm around him (Not when acting aggressive), and generally he should ignore her. When she starts barking, you be the one to calmly but firmly make pup leave the room. I suggest crating pup with a food stuffed chew toy to give her some calm down time more often while your brother is there. He shouldn't bother her while she is in the crate. Ideally, the crate should be in a quiet, calm room. After your brother leaves, I suggest working with a trainer who specializes in aggression and fear, who has a training staff, and comes well recommended by previous clients who have struggled with similar behaviors with their dogs. The trainer and their staff should work on gaining pup's respect and earning trust and desensitizing to strangers. Don't choose someone who rewards pup when she is acting aggressive, but someone who only rewards when pup is making good choices and in a better mindset. Check out the video linked below for an example of timely corrections, desensitization, safety measures, and only rewarding pup when pup is doing well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Also, check out Thomas from the Canine Educator on YouTube for more information on aggression. Look up his fear aggression examples especially. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Rosie
Rat Terrier
6 Years
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Question
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Rosie
Rat Terrier
6 Years

We adopted our dog from a shelter about 4 years ago. The back story was she was crated the entire time until she was seized from the home with no socialization of training. She was definitely neglected and possibly abused. Our best guess is that she is 5-7 years old now, and is chihuahua/rat terrier mix. She is a lovable dog, good with people and kids, but when we take her on a walk, it's awful. When she sees another dog, she completely reacts barking out of control and loud and will hop down the street on her hind legs trying to catch up. What is the best way to train her? I tried over the years and nothing seems to work and I'm frustrated. When she is in this mode she is hyperfocused and does not care about treats Thanks

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
614 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sandy, I suggest looking to see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area. A G.R.O.W.L. class is a class for dog reactive or dog aggressive dogs, where all the dogs wear basket muzzles to keep everyone safe, then are intensively socialized in a structured environment more quickly. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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