How to Train a Rat Terrier to Not Bark

How to Train a Rat Terrier to Not Bark
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-9 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Distraction Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Domain Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Quiet Method

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

By Christina Gunning

Published: 04/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Bean

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Rat Terrier

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4 Months

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Question

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We just rescued Bean 3 days ago from a rescue in Texas. She is so loving, she does bark a lot. Been trying to keep her busy,let her sleep, eating great. She does have a problem pottying in the house, it's small amounts, almost like marking her territory. We thought she had a UTI but vet no, may just be nerves. The barking gets a little more everyday.

Feb. 1, 2022

Bean's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Donna, For the barking, check out the article I have linked below. I would use a combination of all three methods. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Also, check out this video series on desensitizing: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a For the potty training, check out the article I have linked below and the crate Training method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside Since she is a little older, potty trips can be every 1.5 hours. She should be able to hold it in the crate for up to four hours if necessary when you are gone off. At night that time will increase even more once pup is used to alone time generally. I suspect pup may be submissive or excited peeing at this age. It's common with younger puppies, especially more timid/submissive dogs. Check out the article I have linked below, in addition to general potty training. https://wagwalking.com/training/stop-submissive-peeing Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 7, 2022

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Cap

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Rat terrier dog

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6 Months

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Question

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We also have 2 female older terriers. But the problem is with cap and our 7 year old Japanese chin. Just recently cap is whining and crying as he is harassing our Japanese chin. They are both males but we cannot figure out what has caused this behaviour in the last week or so. Our chin constantly growls at him. But he still persists

Feb. 22, 2021

Cap's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Deb, Is Cap humping your other dog while doing so? It sounds like pup is probably either obsessing over your other dog, wanting them to play and give attention, but not knowing how to properly initiate play, or coping with changing hormones and testing limits with the other dog to see where his place is among the other dogs. This behavior may be similar to when a young male dog begins humping furniture constantly - but it is directed toward your other dog instead, as a way to release pent up frustrations he doesn't yet know how to direct. I would work on teaching Cap commands like Place and Out, redirecting his obsessive energy to more appropriate behaviors. If things don't improve, I recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and has experience with obsessive compulsive behaviors, behaviors like humping other dogs (even if yours isn't doing that, it's a similar fixation), and teaching a self-control. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 22, 2021


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