It was 5am and Timmy wouldn’t stop barking. Timmy is a Jack Russell Terrier and belongs to my mother-in-law. We watched him this weekend and his barking was already driving me crazy.
I rolled over in bed and informed my wife that Timmy was going to learn the word “quiet” today.
Barking is a normal, natural behavior in dogs. Barking becomes a problem when it becomes excessive. You can get your dog’s barking under control. The easiest way to do this is to teach your dog the word “quiet”.
If your dog is barking and you start yelling at your dog “Shut up,” “Shut up,” “Stop barking,” all you are doing is giving attention to the barking which can reinforce the behavior.
Training boils down to applying a consequence to the word or command you give your dog. The rule of thumb is that when you want your dog to do a behavior for you, i.e. sit, down, stay, etc., use a positive consequence. When you want your dog to stop doing a behavior, e.g. steal, beg, jump or bark, you have a negative consequence.
Let me say that when you decide to use a negative consequence, you have to be careful. Using positive consequences has no side effects. Using negative consequences does.
Back to the barking. Your dog is doing a behavior that you want to stop, so we’re going to use a negative consequence. The easiest negative consequence to inflict in this situation is breath spray.
Go down to your local pharmacy and pick up some Binaca breathing spray or Listerine breathing spray. Now you can pair the word “quiet” with the negative consequence of the breath spray.
You see, your dog will not like the sound, smell or taste of the breath spray. It is a simple negative consequence that will not harm your dog. Now when your dog starts barking, you can firmly say the word “quiet” and then reach down and spray into the dog’s mouth.
Repeat if the dog starts barking again. It is important to remember that we want your dog to learn the word “quiet”. This is done by pairing the word with the spray. “Quiet,” spray, “quiet,” spray. After a few times, your dog will get the picture.
When your dog has learned the word “quiet” and you don’t need to use the spray, your dog has now learned the word. When this happens, you can start rewarding your dog for not barking. So if you say “Quiet” and don’t need to use the spray, you can reward your dog by saying “Quiet” and give your dog a reward.
Now I can say that little Timmy learned the word “quiet” and we had a much nicer visit with him.