How to Train a Shih Tzu Puppy to Not Bark

Medium
2-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Imagine going on vacation with your family to New York city. You check into your dog-friendly hotel, and then you carry your Shih Tzu into your hotel room in his crate. You let him out and he happily explores the room before finally settling down into his open crate in the corner with a toy. That night some noisy neighbors move in next door. You can hear them talking and laughing loudly for a while, then they leave for a late night out on the town. They have a dog and it begins to bark when they leave, and it keeps barking all night long, until they get home at four in the morning. Your dog, however, remains quiet and ignores all of the noise. You are relieved. The guests check out the next day, possibly because of all the complaints about the barking from other guests on your floor. You go off the next day to do some sightseeing, a bit nervous about how your own dog will do. When you arrive back home you sheepishly ask a guest out in the hallway, who is staying next door to you, if he has heard any barking today? The person acts a bit surprised and tells you that your room has been completely quiet all day. You smile and then walk into your room to find your pup curled up quietly on his bed, chewing a toy.

If you would love for this image to be your reality, then teaching your pup not to bark now is vital. Because your Shih Tzu is still a puppy, barking is less likely to be an ingrained habit yet, and teaching him now to be quiet, rather than bark, will lay a foundation for him to be quiet for years to come.

Defining Tasks

Teaching your puppy not to bark is important for a number of reasons. Barking can cause annoyance, can interrupt sleep, can make it hard to take your puppy places with you, and can even lead to being evicted from rental properties, hotels, or campgrounds. It might even cause legal issues or fines if you live in a densely populated area and your neighbors complain about it often. Many dogs are given up to shelters and rescues every year because of constant barking. All of this can be prevented by desensitizing your puppy to sights and sounds, by teaching him the "Quiet" command, and by teaching him to relax and entertain himself with toys when he is alone.

Your pup might find barking itself to be rewarding, so it is very important to reward your puppy for being quiet instead. It is easy to ignore a dog that is being quiet, but remember to reward your puppy for that calm, quiet behavior so that he will offer it more often. Once a dog gets very excited about barking it can be hard for him to stop, so it is also important to interrupt your puppy's barking early by telling him something like "Aha". When he stops for a second then you can use that opportunity to reward him for being quiet. Doing this will teach him to offer the quiet behavior more often.

Many dogs bark simply because they are bored, and then it becomes a habit. The easier way to stop barking is to prevent it from becoming a habit in the first place. 'The Chew Toy Method' is best used for preventing bad barking habits from starting. By giving your pup something interesting to do that involves his mouth that is not barking, you are encouraging him to be quiet and to relax. He will learn over time to relax and to self-entertain with chew-toys when he is alone or bored.

If you use 'The Quiet Method' then it is important to praise your pup for speaking when you tell him to, but to only reward your pup with a treat when he is being quiet when you tell him to. This is so that 'quiet' will become his preferred command, and he will not bark in order to get a treat. When you tell him "Quiet" is is also important to sound calm and for your tone of voice to be soft. Even though it feels counter-intuitive, speaking softly close to your dog's ear is more likely to get his attention and to calm him down than speaking loudly is. If you become loud like he is, he is more likely to get excited and more agitated. After all, when you yell it seems like you are barking also.

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small treats that your dog loves. If you are using 'The Chew Toy Method' then you will need an exercise pen, a crate or a chew proof pet bed, or both, at least two Kong chew toys, peanut butter or soft cheese, and your puppy's dog food. You will also need a bowl, water, Ziploc bags for the Kongs, and a way to freeze the Kongs. If you prefer to stuff multiple days' worth of Kongs at once, then you will need about two Kongs for each day.

If you are using 'The Quiet Method' or 'The Desensitize Method' then you will also need a small bag or a treat pouch. For both of those methods, you will also need an assistant, a front or back door in your home to practice at, and a leash. If you are using 'The Desensitize Method' then you will also need a location with other dogs and children, who are at a distance, a window that your puppy likes to look out of, and anything else that your puppy tends to bark at, to practice around.

The Quiet Method

Most Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Get set up
To begin, grab lots of treats that your pup loves and place them into a small Ziploc bag in you pocket or into a treat pouch. Recruit an assistant and have the assistant stand outside your front or back door. Attach a leash to your puppy if he is likely to try to run out the door or move around a lot when he gets excited.
Step
2
Knock
Instruct your friend to knock a couple of times and then stop. You can also motion to her through a window when to knock if you have a window visible. When she begins to knock, tell your pup "Speak!" in an excited voice. Praise him when he barks.
Step
3
Add 'quiet'
When your friend stops knocking tell your pup "Quiet" in a soft voice. Crouch down in front of him and say it softly into his ear if he is still barking. Wait until he stops barking for even a second, and when he does, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
Repeat
Have your friend knock again and again, and practice 'speak' and 'quiet' with your puppy every time that she does so. Do this until your pup no longer barks when that friend knocks. When your pup no longer barks at that friend then stop the training session and have another session later that same day or on another day.
Step
5
Practice
Continue to have knocking sessions until your pup will be quiet as soon as you tell him to when he starts barking. When you reach that point, then practice around other things that your pup barks at, such as strange people, other dogs, different noises, squirrels, and other animals. Tell him "Quiet" when he begins to bark at those things, wait until he stops barking, then reward him with a treat when he is quiet. If he is struggling to stop barking, then move him further away from whatever he is barking at, or get in front of him and softly tell him "Quiet" while you block his view with your body. Practice around the harder distractions until he will become quiet around those too when you tell him to.
Recommend training method?

The Desensitize Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Get set up
To begin, grab lots of treats that your pup loves and place them into a small Ziploc bag in your pocket or into a treat pouch. Recruit an assistant to help you, and instruct your assistant to go to your front door.
Step
2
Knock
Have your assistant knock two times and then stop, to trigger your dog tp bark. Wait until your puppy becomes quiet again. After your pup has been quiet for three minutes have her knock again. When your puppy barks when she knocks, wait until he stops for a second, and when he stops, praise him and give him a treat. After he has stayed quiet for two or three minutes repeat the process again by having your assistant knock again. Repeat this until your pup no longer barks when she knocks on your door.
Step
3
Practice
Have regular door knocking sessions with your puppy and assistant until your puppy no longer barks when someone knocks on the door. Each time that you practice this your puppy should realize that the knocking is uneventful and should eventually calm down during that session, but it will likely take many sessions before he decides that door knocks in general are not something to bark at, so practice this often.
Step
4
Add excitement
Take your puppy to places with other dogs or children. Whenever he barks at another dog or child, stand in front of him and block his view while telling him "Aha" in a firm but calm tone of voice. When he becomes quiet for even a second, then praise him and give him a treat. If he is struggling, then move farther away from the other dogs or children, until he can focus on you more again. Also reward him any time that he looks at the children or other dogs and remains quiet. Practice this until he no longer barks at other dogs and children. Make sure that you practice this in multiple locations.
Step
5
Practice at windows
If your puppy tends to bark at things outside a window, then stand next to him while he looks out the window. When he begins to bark tell him "Aha", and when he becomes quiet for even a second, praise him and give him a treat. If he is struggling to stop barking, then stand in front of him and block his view until he becomes quiet for a second, then when he is quiet, you can praise him and give him a treat. If he looks out the window and sees something that he would normally bark at, but does not bark, then praise him and give him a treat also. If he tends to bark at people walking past, then you can also have your assistant walk past the window regularly to give you opportunities to practice this, if he is likely to bark at her.
Step
6
Practice specific issues
If there are other specific things that your pup tends to bark at then set up training sessions where he can view, smell, or see whatever he tends to bark at, in a safe environment. When he barks, interrupt him by telling him "Aha" and blocking his view until he stops. When he becomes quiet again for even a second, then praise him and reward him with a treat. Practice with the thing that he tends to bark at until he no longer barks around it.
Recommend training method?

The Chewy Toy Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Set up the area
To begin, purchase an exercise pen, a crate and/or a chew-proof bed, at least two hollow Kong toys, peanut butter or soft cheese, and your pup's dog food. Set up the exercise pen and place your puppy's crate or bed inside, on one end of the pen.
Step
2
Stuff the Kongs
Measure out your puppy's dog food for the day and place it into a bowl and cover the food in the bowl with water. Let the food soak up the water until it triples in size and becomes mushy. Add more water if you need to. When the food is mushy then mix a little bit of peanut butter or soft cheese into it, making a thick paste. Drop pieces of the mush into the Kongs, but do not pack it too tightly. Place the stuffed Kongs into Zip-Lock bags and then into the freezer to freeze. To save time you can also prepare several Kongs at once, to provide enough Kongs for several days worth of training. You will need to purchase additional Kongs to do this. If you use peanut butter, make sure that it does not contain the artificial sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Also do not substitute other nut butters for peanut butter because many other nuts are toxic to dogs. Substitute soft cheese, meat paste, or a safe store-bought product created specifically for dogs.
Step
3
Place him into the pen
Whenever you cannot supervise your puppy, place him into the exercise pen with a stuffed Kong. Do this so that he can relax on his bed or in his crate with the door open, and chew on his food-stuffed Kong. Because he cannot chew and bark at the same time very well, the Kong will automatically reward him for being quiet. It will also teach him to entertain himself and to relax while he is alone, by giving him something calm to do. Time alone while he is young is also important for preventing separation anxiety, which can lead to barking also.
Step
4
Ignore barking
If he barks while in the pen, then ignore the barking and do not let him out until he is quiet.
Step
5
Reward quiet
Every ten minutes that Fido remains quiet while he is in the pen, walk over to him and drop a couple of treats or pieces of puppy food into the pen for him, and then leave again. Do this to reward his quiet and calm behavior, and to teach him that you will return to him later when you leave.
Step
6
Increase time
When your puppy is doing well being left alone in the pen with a Kong, then gradually increase the amount of time between treat rewards. For example, if your pup no longer barks while in the pen, then begin to go over to the pen every fifteen or twenty minutes that he has been quiet and drop treats. As he improves, increase the time even more, until you reach one hour between treat drops. Continue to reward him for being quiet every one to two hours when you are at home with him while he is a puppy, in addition to giving him a Kong whenever you confine him. Do this until he has formed a habit of being quiet and he calms down with age.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Poppy
Collie
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Poppy
Collie
2 Years

Separation anxiety at night especially, but also during the day. My eldest daughter is very anxious and won’t stay in the house by herself with Poppy. I want her to sleep in the kitchen,( it is not big enough for a crate), but she howls and I can’t let her do that it makes me cry.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
114 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. I am going to send you some information on separation anxiety. This is a multi-fold process and does take time to correct. But it is not impossible. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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Question
Remi Henry
Shih Tzu
10 Weeks
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Remi Henry
Shih Tzu
10 Weeks

Hello... my puppy barks a lot... during the night in the day ... she just barks all the time. And I’m not sure what do to .... I try to comfort her ... I buy her toys . But here’s the thing I work for basically 10hrs for the day and she’s just sitting for that time. What can I do so she can stop barking and play with her toys ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
689 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kai, Look up Pet Tutor and Auto trainer. These devices can be set to automatically dispense treats when they detects that she is being quiet and calm. Also, give her food stuffed chew toys to make chewing her own toys more interesting. You can soak her dog food in water until it turns to mush, mix a bit of peanut butter or liver paste into it, then loosely stuff a hollow chew toy, like a Kong. If you freeze it it will take her longer to get it out if she is a determined chewer. There are several other ways to stuff a Kong that you can also Google. I also suggest hiring someone to come mid-day to stimulate her mentally. A game of fetch where she has to do obedience commands in between throws, a walk where she practices heeling, sit, down, and focusing, or a small agility course. You can also enroll her in a doggie daycare a couple of days a week when she is old enough. Look for one where the staff is trained in canine body language, dogs are grouped together according to play styles, and there is careful supervision of the dogs to prevent bullying or timidity. Check reviews, tour the facility, and ask a lot of questions. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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