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Your Schnauzer is just like most other breeds of dog, in that he loves opening his pipes and let everyone hear him speak his mind. While this might be annoying, it is the only way your buddy Ralph has to communicate with his world--unless you take the time to teach Ralph that this behavior is not only annoying but is unacceptable. Keep in mind, there are times when you actually want Ralph to bark such as when a stranger comes to the door. Of course, the rest of the time, you want him to maintain his demeanor and stay silent.
So, as a responsible dog owner, there are many things you should be teaching Ralph, from the basic commands like 'come', 'sit', 'down', and 'stay' to all the cool tricks. But one of the most important things to teach him is that there are times when no one really wants to hear what he has to say. Bear in mind, your job is to teach Ralph when it is okay for him to bark. You are not working to let Ralph teach you when he thinks he should be able to get away with barking.
Once you have established your place as the Alpha leader in your pack (how your pup sees his family) by teaching him the four basic commands, you can start working on this training. You should also use our guide to teach Ralph to bark on command, it will make this training go a bit easier for both of you. Oh, and don't forget, you will need an ample supply of Ralph's favorite treats to use as rewards.
The Witness and Reward Method
Plenty of his favorite treats
Start by making sure you have a large supply of Ralph's favorite treats.
Woof, woof, woof
Keep an eye on Ralph, at some point he is going to take off on a barking jag. While keeping an eye on him, let him see you are ignoring him by turning your back on him. It won't take him long to stop barking.
When your dog stops barking, be sure to give him a treat and plenty of praise. Keep repeating this step over the course of several days. This will help Ralph get the idea that he gets a treat when he stops barking.
Introduce a cue word
Now that Ralph has a basic understanding of result/reward, it's time to introduce your cue word. Keep watching him and the moment he stops barking, give him your cue, "Quiet!" Then give him praise and a treat. Again, repeat this over the course of several days, helping him to associate the command with the action and the treat.
Keep working with Ralph, slowly increasing the time between when you give him the 'quiet' command and he stops barking and when you give him his treat. In time and with lots of practice Ralph will come to understand there are very few times when he should bark.
The Did You Say Something Method
On his leash
Give Ralph the 'come' command and then hook him up to his leash. This simple action puts you in command.
The 'speak' command
Ralph should already know the 'speak' command, if not use our guide to teach him.
Off he goes
At some point, Ralph is going to go off on a barking jag. When he does, let him go until he wears himself out. Be patient, it will happen. When it does, be sure to praise him and give him a treat. Repeat this step several times a day over the course of the next several days.
Stretch out the time
Now that Ralph is getting the idea that he gets a reward when he stops barking, you can start adding more time between when he stops barking and you give him the treat.
And in the end
In time Ralph will finally figure out that barking when he feels like is not acceptable and silence is the only time he gets a treat. When this happens, he will have mastered the skill of being quiet.
The I Hear Nothing Method
Plenty of treats
Be sure you have a healthy supply of Ralph's favorite treats on hand.
Where he is when he goes off
For now, you need to keep an eye on Ralph to see where he is when he goes off on a barking fit. Once you know where this is, take Ralph to this spot and start playing with him. Your goal is to get him so excited he can't help himself, he has to bark.
I don't hear a thing
When Ralphie starts up on his barking jag, simply ignore him as if he isn't even in the room. Turn your back on him to let him see you are not paying any attention to him at all.
Oh, so you want silence
It won't take long before Ralph realizes that you nor anyone else wants to hear what he has to say. The moment he stops barking, use the cue word "Quiet!", praise him and be sure to give him a treat.
Keep working on the training and extending the time between when he stops and when you give him a treat. Over time he will figure out that he should not bark without a good reason, such as when you give him the 'speak' command.
By PB Getz
Published: 04/12/2018, edited: 01/08/2021