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Teach A Trick ~ To Help Stop Barking

Since it is desirable for our dogs to bark to alert us to people at the door or to warn us of intruders, we don’t want to completely stop our dogs from barking, but just get it under control. The best approach to barking control is to train the dog when to bark on command and stop on command. To do this, it is important to teach the dog the “Speak” command first, and then “Quiet.” Following are the steps to teaching both the Speak and Quiet commands.

Teaching the Speak Command

Find something your dog wants (treats, food, toy). Entice the dog with the object increasing the dog’s desire for it. Hold it above the dog’s head and ask the dog to “Speak.” In the beginning, an exasperated exhale, squeak, grumble or noise should be considered good behavior. Reward that exhale or other vocalization with treats, petting and praise. Repeat until the dog shows enthusiasm and barks. When the dog barks, give a big reward (treats or play session).

If there are occasions where your dog barks regularly, use these situations in your training by asking the dog to speak. For example, if your dog barks when the doorbell rings, say “Speak” and then ring the doorbell. When the dog barks, reward by giving praise and a treat. Repeat until you can phase out the doorbell or other stimuli. Behaviors like “Speak” are easier to train because it’s something your dog already does naturally.

Teaching the Quiet Command

  1. Put the dog on a leash.

  2. Ask the dog to “Speak.” When the dog barks, give him praise and a treat.

  3. Do this 4-6 times in a row.

  4. Then ask the dog to be “Quiet.” When the dog barks, quickly tug the leash and say “No, Quiet, Good.” Very quickly give 3 treats in a row and praise him. The dog learns quiet has a high value reward.

  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the dog doesn’t need a leash correction. Do this 4-6 times in a row. Take a play break.

  6. As the dog progresses, don’t give any treats for “Speak,” but give 1 treat for “Quiet.”


As with all training, consistency, patience and repetition are required. This is a time-consuming training program but the results are long lasting. The younger the dog, the less time it has had to develop a barking habit, and the more quickly it can learn this command. Remember, every time your dog barks inappropriately, you must give the “Quiet” command and only reward when the dog is still and quiet. And if your dog is being quiet when it normally would bark, make sure you give lots of praise with a pat and/or treat.

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