We pulled together trainer Mikkel Becker’s tips for quieting your dog in situations that often lead to a lot of yapping
— like when you’re trying to welcome visitors or
watch something on TV.
At the Doorbell
It’s an old nemesis: the doorbell. But it’s likely that the doorbell itself isn't what's causing excitement or fear in your dog. Instead, he’s
what will happen after you open the door, because he connects the sound
with someone new coming into the home. Opening the door when your dog is still barking actually rewards the barking. If your dog is barking out of excitement or watchdog behavior, teach him an alternate behavior, like going to his mat. Soon, he’ll learn that the door only opens when he lays on his mat quietly. A second possibility is that your dog is barking out of fear. If you think that’s the case, consult your veterinarian. You may need to ask visitors to initially ignore your dog when they enter, and throw treats a few feet away from him as a distraction. They should wait to give him attention until he chooses to approach them quietly.
At the TV
You had visions of curling up on the couch and watching TV
with your best friend — but he makes relaxing impossible by barking at it, instead. If your dog reacts to specific sights or sounds
on TV, like a cat or a doorbell, there are a few ways
you can help. Becker says to teach him to associate meal times with
TV; keep treats handy and reward him for calm behavior when something to which he’d
normally react is on TV; distract him with a toy or game when something he’d
react to shows up on the screen; or make sure he’s exercised and has something, like a frozen Kong, to distract him before you sit down to watch your show.
In the Car
Barking at dogs and passersby near your car may stem from
fear, frustration — or fun. It can be like a game for your dog, and he really always wins: He barks, and the person or dog goes away. Becker says the best solution is keeping your dog in the back of the car in a secured crate, which limits his vision of bark-inducing things happening outside the car. Inside the crate, you can also provide toys to distract him, or use a pheromone spray to help him relax.
When You Talk
Interrupting can be a terrible habit for anyone, but it’s
particularly frustrating when your dog chimes in while
you’re talking. He’s trying to get your attention, and if you pause your
human conversation to tell him to stop, it has worked for him. So, the best plan
is to just ignore him, Becker says. To train him to stop doing this, hold a conversation with a pretend person. Ignore your dog’s barks and keep an
eye out for calm, polite behavior — and reward that with a treat and, eventually, with quiet petting.
Train Her to Be Quiet
This process may seem counterintuitive at first, but it involves
a trick that will come in handy. If you train your dog to speak, then you can eventually teach him a second command: quiet. Training your dog to be quiet is a way of telling him what to do in place of
barking, and then you can reward him for obeying.