Ending Problem Barking, Part 4: The Quiet Command
When another person is making too much noise, we have the option of asking them to quiet down. Most of the time, that person will understand that it’s important to lower their voice or stop talking. Wouldn’t it be nice if that same system could be applied to a barking dog? With the proper training, it’s very possible. Teaching dogs to be quiet on command can mean the difference between noisy interactions full of dogs barking whenever someone rings the doorbell and quiet, well-trained canines sitting quietly by your side earning compliments for their impeccable behavior.
If you’re wondering how to stop a dog from barking, it’s important to know that dogs can certainly be trained to quiet down on command just as they are trained to “speak” or bark when commanded. Patient training that is applied consistently can save you from listening to your dog bark endlessly whenever something happens that sets him off, as a simple verbal command can bring your dog to attention and stop the noise. In the 4th part of our 5 part series on problem barking, we examine the importance of the quiet command.
Starting With “Speak”
The command to speak, or bark is one of the most common tricks a dog can do. Because a bark is a vocalization that dogs primarily use to communicate with humans, rather than with one another, this trick is fairly easy to teach. Knowing this basic trick is imperative to the second half of the equation in this case, which is the quiet command. The simple training of this trick begins with a dog’s favorite treat. Showing the dog the treat and then holding it just out of his reach will often stimulate his attention. At this point, you should cheerfully get his attention by calling him by name, and then in a firm but upbeat tone, instruct him to speak. Show the dog the treat and repeat the command as many times as is necessary for a bark to be produced. The dog should then be rewarded with the treat, teaching them that barking is the appropriate response to this verbal command.
Learning About “Quiet”
If your dog can already “speak” with the best of them, you and your pet are ready to start working on “quiet”. Teaching quiet is, ironically, all about getting your dog barking and then training them to stop. In order to teach your dog the command for being quiet, you and your pet should be in a quiet environment without distractions. To begin, engage your dog by telling him to speak. When barking begins, say “quiet” in the same firm but happy tone you used to train him to speak. By keeping any edge of anger or frustration out of your voice, you maintain your control of the situation and don’t transfer any anxiety or aggression you’re feeling toward your pet. When you say quiet, allow your pet to smell the treat but not to eat it unless they silence themselves. When they are quiet, they may have the treat. Practice makes perfect when it comes to this command, and you and your dog must graduate to situations that would normally stimulate barking to continue the training effectively. Over time, the behavior of your pet will begin to change.
Long Term Training Success
As we’ve mentioned so many times, being patient and consistent when training your dog is absolutely essential to the success of any training method. This means that whenever you have the opportunity to practice using the command with your dog, you should. If someone comes to the door and your dog is barking up a storm, take a minute to practice the command with him. It also means that other members of your household should be aware of the training and be willing to help teach the family pet by also using the command before giving treats when the dog is overstimulated. A lack of consistency can rapidly undo training for dogs, who learn by repetition.
Making sure to routinely practice the command in a variety of situations where your dog is experiencing different kinds of stimulus can go a long way in making sure that they will respond to the command no matter the situation. Practice the command when you’re in the park, on a walk, or even preparing for a routine vet visit. These are all ways that your dog can begin to internalize “quiet” as a command for long term training success.