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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Domain Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Quiet Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Christina Gunning
Published: 04/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021