Though barking is a natural behaviour of dogs, excessive barking can get on your nerves, can disturb you and your neighbours and can interfere in your routine jobs. The good news is that your dog can be trained to be quiet when asked, if you work hard enough at it. You can use the training technique advised by Cathy Madson when your dog has already started barking at the trigger outside.
- Have treats ready and stand close to your dog. Say "Quiet" or any other word of your choice in a happy voice. Make sure you keep your volume low. Do not shout.
- Your dog might look at you when you say the word "Quiet" — if they do, quickly use that moment of silence with immediate treats and praise.
- If there's a big distraction outside and the dog is already barking, they may need help to focus on what you want. Place a treat in your closed fist and place that hand in front of their nose. They'll be able to smell it and will likely stop barking. Once they've stopped barking, say "Quiet", open your hand and give them the treat. Make sure to give them lots of praise!
- If your dog continues to stay quiet, reward again with another treat! If they start barking again, take that opportunity to practice another "Quiet." Pay attention to your treat timing to reward keeping their mouth closed after getting the first treat, don't wait too long before that second or third treat. If you wait too long, they'll lose interest in what you have and go back to barking at their trigger.
- With practice, your dog should respond more and more quickly to the verbal cue of "Quiet" and you'll no longer be relying on a hand lure to help them stop barking. This is when you can start delaying reward with a treat to build the duration of the cue.
- When you say "Quiet," give the treat if they can keep their mouth closed for 3 seconds. Then increase the duration to 5 seconds before the treat happens.
- As they get better at responding quickly to the quiet cue and continue to stay quiet for some time after being asked, you can start fading out the use of food rewards. Make sure you still reward them with praise, petting, or some fun toy play when they stop barking when asked.