How to Train an Australian Shepherd to Not Bark

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You may have noticed that dogs, like humans, like to talk. The big difference is that they talk by barking. If your Australian Shepherd barks seemingly incessantly, it is far too easy to dismiss it as your pooch is simply barking to hear his own voice. Your pup might actually be barking as a form of manipulation, in that he knows that the more he barks, the more likely you are to give in and give him what he wants.

Doing this would be a terrible mistake. Once you start down this road, your dog will bark even more to get the things he wants. There are, of course, times when your dog might be barking for a good reason, such as to warn you of something, when he is really anxious, when you are playing, or when he is simply bored. It is important for you to realize the difference and only work to discourage your pooch from barking when there is no reason for him to make any noise at all.

Defining Tasks

No one wants a dog that barks constantly. Not only is annoying for you, but you can bet your pup is annoying virtually all of your neighbors. The concept is to train your dog that, while there may be times when it is okay for him to bark, the vast majority of the time he needs to hold his tongue and give everyone a little peace and quiet.

Keep in mind the average Australian Shepherd tends to bark a lot, making it a little more challenging to get him to stop barking unless you give him the 'speak' command or there is a situation in which he needs to bark to alert you. 

Getting Started

Since you are working on more advanced training, before you get started, be sure your pup has mastered the four basic commands, 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'down'. Teaching your pup these first helps to establish your position as the alpha in the pack. Remember, your dog sees his human family as his pack and he needs to know his place in the pack from the outset. The only supplies you need is a big bag of your pup's favorite treats, plenty of time, and an abundant supply of patience. 

The Caught You Method

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Step
1
You need treats
You need to start out each training session with a pocketful of your pup's favorite treats. You will be using them to reward your pooch when he gets things right.
Step
2
Is that you I hear?
The next time your pooch decides to go off on a barking fit, just let him go to town. However, you do need to keep a close eye on him.
Step
3
When he stops
At some point in time, your pup is going to get tired of hearing himself bark. You need to be there when he does with plenty of praise and a treat. Repeat this process over the next few days, helping your pup to associate the fact he stopped barking with getting a treat.
Step
4
Be quiet
Now is a great time to introduce your cue word, "Quiet" to your pooch. Start by letting him start barking, then when stops barking, say "Quiet" in a firm commanding voice and give him plenty of praise and a treat or two. Repeat until he associates the cue "Quiet" with stopping the noise and getting a treat.
Step
5
Time is on your side
To firmly affix this behavior in his mind, continue with the training and start adding more time between when he stops and when you give him the treat. It will take a little time, but the peace and quiet will be more than worth the work.
Recommend training method?

The Tell Me About It Method

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Step
1
On the leash again
Clip your pooch's leash on, it will help you maintain control during the training sessions.
Step
2
Tell me all about it then
This method assumes you've already taught your dog to bark on command. Give your pup the 'speak' command and let him start to bark. But, when he does, be sure to give him the 'quiet' command right away. Be sure to use a firm, commanding voice.
Step
3
Wait for it
Wait for your pup to stop barking on his own. When he does, be sure to give him a treat and plenty of praise. Practice this for a few days.
Step
4
More time, please
Now that your pup knows he is going to get a treat when he stops barking, you need to take advantage of this and start extending the time between when he stops and when you give him a treat.
Step
5
The final step
The final step in this training is simply to keep working with your pup until he no longer barks unless you give him permission, or he deems the situation is dire enough that he needs to alert you.
Recommend training method?

The Show Him Your Back Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Treats first
Before you start training your pup, you need to fill at least one pocket with some of your pup's favorite treats.
Step
2
On the spot
Chances are good there are certain areas of the house or yard that tend to set your pup off barking incessantly. Take him to one of those spots and then spend a little time with him.
Step
3
Hello, is that you?
Each time your pup decides to go off on a barking tangent, simply turn your back to him and completely ignore the noise.
Step
4
Silence is golden
At some point your pup will stop barking, and when he does, be right there with plenty of praise and a treat or two.
Step
5
Press repeat
The rest is all about repeating the training and slowly adding more time to how long he must wait for his treat. In time, your pup will learn when he can and when he cannot get away with barking.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers and Success Stories

Question
Cooper
AnimalBreed object
8 Weeks
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Question
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Cooper
AnimalBreed object
8 Weeks

We recently got our 8 week old Aussie, Cooper and are loving the addition to our family. He has been good about knowing going to the bathroom outside (with a few small accidents here and there inside), but the main thing that we have noticed in our short time having him (5 days now) is that his barking gets very excessive when he is in his crate during the day and at night as well. He has also tried digging and biting at the cage to get out. My fiance and I both work full time and are trying to crate train him the right way while working full time so we have been limiting the time he is consecutively in the crate. My fiance gets up at 5:00 and lets him out and plays with him as she is getting ready and when she leaves at 6:15, I get up and play with him and take him out and feed him before I leave around 7:20. We have been having someone come around 10:30 and staying until 11:30 to let him out and play with him and then I have been coming home around 11:45 and staying till around 12:45. After I leave he is in his crate until 3:30 roughly when my fiance gets home. Really we just want to make sure we are doing the right things from the get go and do not want him developing anxiety or stress from being in his crate since it should be a place of comfort.

What are the things we should do to control his barking and comfort level while he is home alone inside the crate?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ryan, Honestly, the main thing is to not let him out while he is crying unless he truly needs to go potty. The hardest part about crate training is being consistent and firm. Puppies need to opportunity to learn to self-sooth and self-entertain. If you let them out when they cry, then actually learn that crying is how they get free - which is the opposite of the goal and increases separation anxiety risks....You are likely not doing any of that from the sound of it, and staying consistent, but that's my biggest piece of advice. Know that it's normal for puppies to pitch a fit in the crate for the first 2 weeks - stay consistent. When you are home, practice the Surprise method from the article linked below for an hour each day - that will mean extra crate time for him but that's not a bad thing at this age right now as long as that time is proactive learning - letting him practice crying it out, then being rewarded when he gets quiet so he can make that connection. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Work on establishing some boundaries around the crate to encourage calmness: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Give a dog-food stuffed chew toy, like a Kong so he has something to do while you are away - you can place his food in a bowl, cover it with water, let it sit out until it turns to mush, mix a little peanut butter or liver paste into it, stick a straw through the Kong, loosely stuff the food around the straw in the Kong, freeze the whole thing overnight, take the straw out the next morning and give him the Kong as part of his breakfast portion in the crate. He can actually eat all of his meals as stuffed Kongs and used as treats and not need a food bowl at this age if you want. The straw creates a hole that prevents suction during licking. You can also make several kongs ahead of time and just grab from freezer as needed to save on time. If the barking continues past one month, you can use a soft small towel rolled up with rubberbands to hold it in place, and give the crate a little bump while saying "Ah Ah" when he cries, then practice the Surprise method to teach quietness. Most puppies will adjust without the correction though - the corrections interrupt an anxious state of mind to give enough of an opportunity for pup to get quiet so you can teach quietness if they aren't learning it another way. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Kratos
AnimalBreed object
14 Weeks
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Kratos
AnimalBreed object
14 Weeks

He bites alot and breaks the skin. I have a 2 1/2 year old grandson that lives with me, i need the puppy not to nip or knock grandson down. Help me please

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Debra, Check out the "Leave It" method from the article linked below. Once he knows leave it, use that command to tell him not to bite when he tries to or is thinking about it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite For the jumping, check out the "Step Toward" method from the article linked below. You can get in front of your grandson and step toward the puppy for him when Kratos tries to jump on him, then reward him if he sits for your grandson instead. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Oliver
AnimalBreed object
7 Months
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Oliver
AnimalBreed object
7 Months

Oliver barks at anything that moves! At home I am able to distract him with using "Quiet" and a treat. However while walking him with our Golden Doodle, he barks and cries at people we pass, dogs, birds, and especially cars!! I try to let him stop and use Quiet but he doesn't stop until the movement is out of sight. Very upsetting to anyone around and to our other dog. Any advice would be appreciated.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary, The first step is to interrupt his anxious/arousef state of mind. Check out the video linked below: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/good-dog-transformations/how-we-work-through-leash-reactivity-with-the-wild-and-crazy-ozzie-2nd-session/ Check out the videos and articles linked below for ways to build impulse control, respect, and trust; Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Once he is calmer on a walk it is very important to also focus a ton on socializing him around the things he is barking at. Socialization should be calm and positive, with strangers doing things like tossing him treats for sitting and being calm, rewards for doing down stays near other dogs, calm praise for heeling around other distractions, ect...You want him to get super comfortable with new things and not fearful, and so familiar with them that they become boring - this should be done in a way that incorporates structure and calmness and not super exciting crazy things. Another video on interrupting arousal (in the video's case aggression, but your pup's may simply be rude behavior or over-excitement): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ For your pup it is really important not to skip the positive socialization and structure after corrections have decreased the unwanted behavior enough to start rewarding calmness instead - for the training to work long-term. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Daisy
AnimalBreed object
3 Years
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Daisy
AnimalBreed object
3 Years

We have a very smart mini Aussie that we rescued at one year of age. She has bitten (not breaking skin, but still very painful)our four year old grandson twice. Once when he was just walking by her. We don’t know what to do, to change this behavior. My grandson loves dogs, has grown up around them. He has never hurt Daisy. Currently, when he and his baby sister (2 years old) come over, Daisy has to go to her kennel for their entire visit. I have also bought her a muzzle, which I’ve slowly been trying to get her used to. Daisy is part of our family and I hate having to do these things, but I must make sure that my babies are safe. Daisy is very treat and ball motivated. Please help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jackie, First, using measures like crating and desensitizing her to the muzzle are important first steps - the kids are first priority and need to be kept safe, and being allowed to act aggressive toward them will make the behavior in her worse, so don't feel bad about doing those things. Those are responsible first steps. Check out the videos linked below on desensitizing aggressive dogs to kids. Notice the safety measures always taken though and be sure to implement similar measures - crates, back tie leash, lines for the kids not to cross, constant adult supervision anytime there is an interaction between the kids and dog, and a basket muzzle. You can work on teaching pup to respect the kids and be more comfortable around them via desensitizing and their respect for you and your rules. Once pup is doing well, I still would not allow her to be around the kids without a lot of structure and precautions in case since pup does have a history of biting - but training needs to be in place so that bites are no longer the norm. Just know that even when pup does well, they shouldn't be completely trusted still since they have shown a lack of impulse control around kids and could bite. Explanation of why dogs often bite kids (the dog in this video who is closer to the kids doesn't have aggression issues - which is why you don't see the extra precautions taken, like in the rest of the videos I have linked - extra safety measures will be needed when practicing with a known biter - such as a muzzle, back tie leash, crate, and greater distance between pup and kid): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7_0ZqiJ1zE&t=122s Use of crate, Place and tether leash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n0_27XY3z4 The dog is attached to the pole with a secure leash while on Place - notice the tape on the ground the kid knows not to cross - to keep the kid out of the dog's reach in case the dog lunges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gblDgIkyAKU Teaching dog to move away from kids when uncomfortable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYs76puesAE Later stage, up close desensitization - even though kids are close, there is still a line and pup is still on a back-tie leash so that pup can't actually get to kids to bite if they tried...This is a later stage exercise for pup once they can do well with the other above scenarios: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJoEJfTS-E Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Peach
AnimalBreed object
10 Months
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Question
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Peach
AnimalBreed object
10 Months

Hi!
I have a 10 month old Aussie that I've had since she was 10 weeks old. She's sweet and fun-loving, but for the past couple of months she has been getting worse and worse with barking at any stranger that comes to the door, or any person she sees outside on the street when she's riding with me in the car. She's not a biter, but her bark is very loud and deep, so I know she scares others!
How do I go about getting her to bark at everything?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
673 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tiffany, If you are social distancing and having less exposure to people and more delivery people coming to your door, so may have become overly sensitive to the arrival of those people, then when she barks and the person leaves, in her mind the barking was effective so she is on high alert for that next time - creating a vicious cycle of being overly sensitive to seeing people. In that case, you want to remove the excitement out of seeing people and make their appearance boring and calm again. Check out the videos linked below and recruit some friends or family members to pretend to be delivery people and people in a parking lot (or driveway while you are in the car even - practice this while the car is still for safety reasons unless you have another person who can drive while you are training). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpzvqN9JNUA Desensitize and Quiet methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Practice someone at the door and all the things that are involved with someone approaching the door or car, over and over again, until pup starts getting bored and less reactive with the exercise. Only reward pup when they are responding well right that second - which will often involve rewarding pup before they react poorly, during seconds between barking - when they pause, and after you have repeated this so often that they are bored so calmer. Being rewarded for the calmness should help pup learn to offer that calm response more, but practicing this over and over should also help pup to feel more bored with people approaching the house and to associate that with something pleasant - being calm and treats, so pup feels more relaxed too about people. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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