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

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
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

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
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

ribbon-method-3
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

Question
Foxy
Australian Shepherd
3 Years
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Question
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Foxy
Australian Shepherd
3 Years

She is starting to be more reactive
Lunging and barking at people when we are walking
Very attached to me

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cathie, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have her mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with her having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if she isn't calm. She should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk she should be in the heel position - with her head behind your leg. That position decreases her arousal, reduces stress because she isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents her from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind her. It also requires her to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and aggressive she is - it makes her feel like the responsibility is on your shoulders not hers around other dogs. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as she starts staring them down, interrupt her. Don't tolerate challenging stares - even if she is stressed. Remind her with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and she is not allowed to break her heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. This also makes the walk more pleasant for her in the long-run. Protect her from other dogs. If she feels nervous and someone wants to let her meet their rude, excited dog, tell the other person no thank you. A simple "She's in training" tends to work well. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Reactive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Severely aggressive dog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfiDe0GNnLQ&t=259s Aggressive dog - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Outside of the walk you can work on building pup's trust and respect for you in other ways too to help her confidence. The following commands and exercises are also good for that: Agility/obstacles for building confidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elvtxiDW6g0 Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Any tricks that challenge her mentally, require impulse control, and equal her learning new things successfully. A long down stay around distractions is a good thing to practice during walks periodically. A good way to do introductions with other dogs is to recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. I would only do this part with the supervision of a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues and comes well recommended. You may also need to desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle if aggressive when up close with other dogs or if aggressive toward you when aroused. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Sometimes you can even find others to practice with through obedience clubs, meetup groups, or hiking groups. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sir henry
Australian Shepherd
8 Months
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Question
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Sir henry
Australian Shepherd
8 Months

When our kids jump on the trampoline, Henry runs in circles around it and will work his way under the trampoline and will try to bite through to get the kids. Along with insane amount of barking.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mary, What you are describing is probably a combination of pup's herding instincts and pup being highly aroused by all the activity and movement. I would start by teaching pup a Leave It command. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Once pup knows that command, I would practice Leave It with treats or another reward pup likes around the trampoline. Start with the trampoline empty until pup can move away from it while empty, then with one person sitting on it, then slightly bouncing, then two people sitting, two bouncing, more bouncing, ect...Gradually work up to the scenario where the kids jump normally. Use a long training line to help pup move away from the trampoline when they are struggling to obey and to prevent the circling behavior, reward for leave it, and progress slowly so pup stays calmer during practice as they develop the skills to control themselves gradually. When you can't actively train, keep pup inside away from windows where they will see the kids bouncing to prevent your training from being undone before pup is ready. For some dogs, the above training is sufficient, but honestly for others the herding instinct is going to make this always hard for pup. You may also need to hire a professional trainer who is very experienced with low level "working level" e-collar training, to transition pup from being able to "Leave It" while on the long leash, to while off leash also. The initial training with Leave It and the long leash and rewards is needed first anyway though, so I would begin there since that part shouldn't require additional tools initially either way. Check out trainers like James Penrith from Taketheleaddogtraining, to learn more about how e-collar training should be done to ensure you find a trainer you feel confident working with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bodie
Australian Shepherd or Mini or Toy Australian Shepherd
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Bodie
Australian Shepherd or Mini or Toy Australian Shepherd
1 Year

Recently my 1 year old aussie has decided that he likes to bark at people... not all the time. Usually only when we're sitting outside and one of our neighbors comes outside too or if someone walks by the house. Or if we do a curbside pick up order and the person walks up to the car. And it's a big loud scary I'm going to eat you bark. Which he would never do,h. If the person acknowledges him he turns into an excited wiggle butt. No matter what I try, I can't get his attention refocused. I try to give him a treat to distract him, but he continues to bark and growl why he eats. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
943 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Check out the article and videos I have linked below. I recommend desensitizing pup to those types of encounters by recruiting friends who can pretend to be delivery people to help, and teaching the quiet command. With friends' help you can set up the scenario for the person to stay far enough away and calm enough at first for pup to respond to you better, then roll play it over and over and over again until pup is desensitized to that person and able to react more calmly - at which point you can then reward the calmness. Quiet and Desensitize methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Barking at the door, barking at strangers, and barking on a walk videos specifically from this list (all of the videos are generally good examples of how to desensitize though): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Milo
Australian Shepherd
2 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Milo
Australian Shepherd
2 Months

He barks when we stay stop how do we get him to stop barking?

He also biting us a lot how do we stop him from biting us, our clothes. We tried 2 bitter sprays

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

Hello! Here is information on nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Question
Sunny
Miniature Australian Shepherd
6 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Sunny
Miniature Australian Shepherd
6 Months

My 6-month-old miniature Australian shepherd pulls so much on the leash that she chokes herself. We've tried using her collar, and two different no-pull harnesses but none of them tend to work. She just can't handle distractions. On walks, she's a nightmare because whenever she sees somebody, she lunges, growls, and barks. She has never bitten anyone but she looks like she could. She also can't come when called or stay with distractions. We go on a couple of hikes a week and on each of them, we try training her. She won't take treats or do any commands with distractions. She also barks at any stranger. Do you think she'll ever get better? How should we train her?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Australian Shepherds have a lot of energy and need daily exercise and mental stimulation. Good for you for lots of walks and hikes, too. I think that obedience classes are the answer now, before she gets worse. If you feel that Sunny is not ready for obedience classes and you need to train her a bit before, call in a trainer to give you some pointers in the home (one or two sessions does wonders). In the meantime, for walking, train her to heel. Starting with the Treat Lure Method may be ideal, and then work on the other two methods. She will hopefully learn to focus on you and not the distractions because she is in training mode, which Australian Shepherds typically love: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel. As for seeing other dogs, try the Passing Approach Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs. (If she is staying aggressive with people/dogs after these methods, please call in a trainer who is knowledgeable on aggression). Good luck!

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