How many times have you told your dog to “be quiet” only to find they keep barking even more?
If your dog doesn’t stop barking when you ask them to, it’s fair to say they don’t understand the cue 100% and they accidentally learned the cue “be quiet” means keep barking.
Some dogs think its great fun when their owner starts “barking” along with them or yelling at their dog to “be quiet” at the same time their dog is barking. Your dog may think that your telling is kind of like you joining in on their bark session.
It’s also possible that your dog has trained you to respond to their barking. Dogs that want their owners to play fetch or “tugs” often bark to get their owners to hurry up and start playing. You never want to reward your dog by engaging in their game if they have bad manners.
Your dog probably doesn’t know what the cue “be quiet” means. You'll know they don’t understand the cue when they don’t stop barking. Dogs get accidentally taught that the cue “quiet” means keep barking. If your dog is barking and you are telling them to “be quiet” at the same time they are barking, you are teaching them the words go with the action or behavior they are displaying. Your dog isn’t born with an understanding of the language you speak. Dogs learn new words by association. Association learning means you pair a word with an action that’s happening at that exact moment. If you keep telling your dog to “be quiet” while they are barking, they learned that they should keep barking. You know what correct behavior should be happening when you say the cue “be quiet,” but your dog accidentally learned the wrong behavior because of your bad timing.
To teach your dog how to “be quiet” on cue, you have to get them to stop barking first, and then pair the cue “be quiet” with the silence. You have to reward your dog with a treat when they are quiet. At the same time, you’re saying the cue “be quiet.” The most effective way to stop your dog from barking is to make a buzzer like noise; “Eh-eh” firm and loudly. This annoying sound usually gets them to stop and look around to see where they weird noise is coming from. When your dog stops barking, you can say your cue, “be quiet” or just use the word “quiet” and give them a treat. It’s going to take multiple sessions of practice before you can ask your dog to “be quiet” on cue.
Dogs that beg for attention tend to do so with loud vocals. Your dog may bring you a toy, drop it at your feet and start barking to get you to toss the toy. They have learned that you are under their control. When they demand that you engage in a game of fetch or tug with them, and when you give in and play, they learn very quickly that their barking gets them what they want.
Do not pick the toy up and do not look at your dog when they are pushy and barking at you, demanding you to play. Make sure you make your dog work for play. To play the games, your dog has to do something to earn the playtime with you. This means that they may have to sit and stay before you toss a toy or play “tugs.” If your dog brings the toy back that you tossed and starts barking, you will have to turn your back on them and take your attention away. Your dog won’t understand at first why you aren’t engaging in their game. It will take patience and practice to teach them how to have better manners during playtime.
It’s best to reteach your dog the “quiet” cue and avoid rewarding the wrong behavior when they are barking. Your dog needs to learn what you want them to do instead of barking. Make sure if your dog is barking out the window at people passing by, you stop that bad behavior immediately. You may have to block them from looking out that window to see the distractions passing by.
Don’t forget a dog that doesn’t get the right amount of exercise, they will have more pent-up energy. They may be more likely to bark excessively at every noise they hear. When your dog is tuckered out, they have an easier time resting and relaxing. Give your dog at least two walks a day, for thirty minutes or more, and provide mental exercise for them to release all their stored up energy.
For more information on exercising your dog, check out this three-part series with 15 different games and exercises you can do with your dog indoors.
Make sure to read Stop Your Dog's Annoying Barking (Part 1) if you want more solutions to stop your dog's bad barking habits.