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German Shepherds are famous for their quick and efficient obedience… but they’re going to bark a lot if you don’t teach them that this is not what you want. First, you’ll need to know how to stop German Shepherds from barking.
Teaching your German Shepherd not to bark all of the time is a simple matter of teaching them the ‘quiet’ command and also giving them something to do instead when they aren’t sure what you want. Ideally, if your dog doesn’t know what to do, they should know to come to you and wait.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to teach the ‘quiet’ and the ‘speak’ commands and also give you some exercises to help encourage impulse control for your dog. You don’t need any gimmicky training gear for this, just patience and consistency, so let’s take a look at how this is done!
How To Stop German Shepherds From Barking? Rewards… not Rebukes
First things first… don’t punish your German Shepherd. If your dog starts barking and you respond aggressively, this is going to frighten them more than anything and likely lead to them trusting you a little less. Instead, we want to train with a framework of 100% positive reinforcement.
When your dog does something right, give them a treat. This sounds simplistic, but it’s actually very effective. Reinforcing good behavior with a treat is easy to understand in any language and when your dog knows that there’s a treat on the line, then they are going to repeat behaviors that earn them.
It takes a little time, but what you are doing with positive reinforcement boils down to a simple concept. By teaching your dog what you want them to do, they will quickly pick up what you don’t want them to do by the simple means of knowing that you weren’t happy enough with their behavior to give them a treat.
Just don’t overdo the treats and remember that other rewards, such as the occasional new toy, a play session, or even a bit of petting or brushing if they like that are also viable means to show that you are pleased with their behavior. Try this and you’ll see for yourself – making you happy makes your dog happy!
Why your Shepherd barks
While you are training your dog not to bark it is helpful to determine the reason why they are barking. Sometimes it is a territorial thing, and this is completely normal. Other times, a dog might not be properly socialized, and so they bark instead of giving a more proper greeting to a human or a new animal.
If it’s territorial, you can teach them to stay next to you most of the time so that the effect is more limited, or simply teach them the quiet command so that you get a quick bark to let you know when an intruder is nearby, but not ‘uncontrollable’ barking as a response.
If your dog is barking because they don’t know how to socialize with people or animals, then trips to the dog park can help, and you can also invite friends over for a visit and even let them give your dog treats if the pup is okay with it. Once your dog is confident around others, they’ll definitely bark less.
Understanding why your dog is barking will help you strategize, so be sure to keep a close eye on them while you are training them. It will help you better understand your dog and but that training time in half!
Teaching the ‘Quiet’ Command
The easiest way to teach the quiet command is going to require that we build a homemade training tool. Take an old, empty coffee can that you still have the lid to and fill it halfway to the top with pennies. Keep this nearby and when your dog barks, say firmly and clearly the word ‘Quiet’ and shake the can.
The noise from this will get your dog’s attention and they will pause, at which point you should say ‘quiet’ again and tell them to ‘sit’. When your German Shepherd does this, tell them ‘good dog’ and call them over to give them a treat.
Repeat this until your dog learns the command – it’s a very useful thing to teach them. This way, you will always be informed if someone is coming close, but the barking is going to be quick and informative rather than a frenzied response because your dog doesn’t know what else to do.
This is important because until you teach them the response that you want, your Shepherd won’t know how to react. With the quiet command, your dog gets to bark for a moment so that you know someone is nearby, but they also know that this is enough and they can sit next to you to wait for the next command.
Teaching your Shepherd to ‘Speak’
Now that your Shepherd knows when to quiet down, you can also reverse the process and teach them when you want them to be vocal. This is done by saying ‘Speak’ when your dog starts barking and then giving them a treat when they keep barking. After you give them the treat, say ‘Quiet’ to get them to stop.
This takes a little longer to teach and you will need to be consistent, but with a little time your dog will associate the word ‘speak’ with barking and a treat and then the word ‘quiet’ with silence and another treat. This command is a lot of fun, so be sure to test it out.
When you believe that your dog has learned the command, try getting them to ‘speak’ at different times when it is quiet in the house. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t do this right away, just keep reinforcing and saying the word ‘speak’ when they bark and your clever Shepherd will pick this up.
Once they do, then your faithful dog will bark or fall silent on command – a trick that your friends will find amusing and that also comes in useful if someone threatening gets in the house!
Impulse control exercises
Some German Shepherds like to bark a little bit more than others – it’s a given. If your dog is like this or you simply want to improve their overall training, then a good tact to take is teaching your dog a little impulse control. This can be done with two simple exercises.
We’ll call our first example ‘the treat delay’. Take a dog treat and make sure that your dog sees it, before closing your hand into a fist so that they can’t get it. Let your dog sniff at the hand or even paw a little at it, but do not give them the treat.
Wait or command your dog to sit and if they do, then give them the treat. If you do this often and consistently, your dog will learn that patience always gets them the treat! Next, you can teach impulse control with the door with ‘the door delay;. Start by cracking the door and telling your dog to sit.
If they rush the door anyway, then close it, but if they obediently sit then walk over to give them a treat. Tell your dog to sit again and open it a little more… you get the idea! Repeat this exercise until your dog learns that an open door means ‘sit and wait’ instead of ‘run outside now’!
Avoid muzzles and ‘gimmicks’
Patience is going to be your best way to teach your dog, not to bark – not muzzles or ‘gimmicks’ like vibrating collars. While some people have used these to good effect, you really don’t need them, and relying on a tool to enforce what you want means that your dog might not behave without them!
Instead, you should practice the ‘quiet’ command 2 to 3 times a day and run your dog through random ‘impulse tests’ with the tips that we’ve provided. With German Shepherds, the most important thing is to teach them something to do when they’re not sure what you want.
For instance, teaching them to sit next to you or a family member whenever they play with a new toy or desire a command from you is an excellent way to teach obedience and give your dog some focus. Behavior issues often arise simply because your dog is confused – so teach them to come to you and to wait instead.
You don’t need to shut them up with a muzzle or some fancy electric collar – you just need to teach them to do what you command and to come to you when they don’t know what to do. It’s as simple and as complex as that!
Teaching them what to ‘guard’
We mentioned that a good plan is to make sure that your German Shepherd is always next to you or a family member, so now we’ll tell you how to do this.
The easiest way is to keep treats handy and whenever your dog starts to wander off or picks up a new toy, you should call them to you and tell them to sit. When they do this, then give your dog a treat. If your dog tries to leave again, call them back and tell them to sit.
If you and the other members of the family do this every time that your dog wanders, then your German Shepherd will learn that they should always occupy their time by sitting next to you or a family member. This comes in handy – as your dog will always be guarding someone.
Remember – it’s all about giving your Shepherd instructions so that they always know what they should be doing. Once they have a framework, these smart dogs will stick to it, and a well-trained Shepherd is a wonder to behold!
Today we’ve taken a look at how you can teach your dog to be silent or to bark on command, as well as how you can instruct them to wait for you and to stay close to the family at all times. You don’t need any gimmicky training tools to do this – just patience and some quality time with your furry friend.
Just keep the lessons consistent and reinforce good behavior with treats and you will soon start seeing a big difference in how your dog behaves. You can count on it!