The quiet command is one of the best tricks that you can teach your pup early on. If you’ve ever had an at-home work call ruined by incessant barking or had to deal with angry glares in your neighbourhood thanks to your hound’s midnight howls, you can definitely see the value in a trick like this one.
And while the quiet command won’t make your pup silent all the time—dogs are dogs, after all!—it can help you get your pup to quiet down when it really counts.
The basics of the quiet command
When you break it down, the quiet command is a very basic training technique. In fact, it can be taught in three easy steps:
- Wait for the bark
Some trainers opt to teach a “speak” command before teaching “quiet,” and you can certainly go that route. Or, you can get your dog to start barking naturally by exposing them to one of their triggers, like the doorbell ring or even a recording of another dog barking.
- Be ready to reward brief moments of silence
The key to teaching the quiet command is to reward your dog for silence. This can be done within milliseconds after your dog has stopped barking, even if it was just to catch their breath.
At first, it will feel as if you are rewarding your dog for barking, and true, it can take a bit of trial and error until you get your timing exactly right. But, if you’re able to reward them just as they stop barking, they’ll realize, “When I keep barking, I don’t get a reward. But when I stop, I get a treat.”
As you give your pup their reward, make sure to pair it with a command, such as “quiet” or “enough.” A hand signal is also a great option, since your dog may not hear you as clearly over their own barking.
- Gradually lengthen your dog’s silence
Once your dog understands the basics of the quiet command, you can start challenging them to stay silent for a few seconds longer each time. Again, this will take some patience and repetition. Start by rewarding your dog and saying the command as soon as they’re quiet. The next time your dog falls silent, say the command and then wait a half second or a second to give the reward. The time after that, your dog might be able to stay silent for a few seconds before you give them the reward. And so on. If your dog starts to cut corners and bark again before you’re ready to give them the reward, then loop back to the beginning and start with shorter increments.
One of the huge benefits of lengthening the time your dog stays quiet is that it can give them a moment to relax and reset. This could be just what they need to stay calm while the neighbour’s dog passes by the house or the telephone stops ringing.
Secrets to making sure the quiet command works every time
As useful as the quiet command is, you want to make sure that your pup responds quickly every time you have to use it. So, make sure that you rely on these (not-so-secret) training secrets:
- Use great treats. One of the struggles of teaching the quiet command is getting your dog’s attention in the first place. In their riled-up state, it can be difficult for them to pay attention to anything around them. That’s why you want to rely on irresistible treats when training this trick. And, if your dog is wild about their flavourful, all-natural kibble, you can throw in a training session at the beginning of every meal. This is especially helpful if you’ve got a doggo who constantly barks at you to hurry up and serve dinner!
- Be consistent. The goal is that your dog gets so much practice with the quiet command that it’s as second nature to them as barking, itself! So, even if you feel like your dog gets the idea, make sure to keep training the quiet command every chance you can get. You’ll be glad that you put in the extra effort when it really counts.
- Remove the trigger, if necessary. Sometimes whatever is making your dog bark is so exciting or scary that you won’t be able to find those short moments of silence to reward. If that’s the case, calmly remove your dog to a room where they can’t see or hear the trigger. When they’re calm, reward them. From there, you might use a less stimulating trigger—for instance, the recording of a doorbell instead of the actual doorbell—so that they bark without losing their focus completely.
Other ways to help curb your dog’s barking
Like we mentioned at the top, a quiet command isn’t going to make your pup’s barking habit go away completely. But, there are ways to make your life as bark-free as possible:
- Make sure they get plenty of exercise. A well-exercised dog is typically a calmer one, which can improve their emotional regulation and lessen their reactivity. So, take Fido for a walk before your big work video call to prevent interruptions.
- Up the mental stimulation. Some dogs will bark because they’re bored or they feel like they should be getting more attention than whatever reruns you’re watching on tv. You’ll find that daily training sessions, interactive play, or puzzle games are a great way to keep your dog happy. The added bonus is that it’s an extra opportunity for some doggy-Owner bonding, which will make them even more likely to respond to the quiet command.
- Work on socialisation. If your dog is barking because they’re overly excited at the sight of other dogs, birds, people and more, it’s a sign that they could use some socialisation and desensitisation. The more time they spend getting to know the world (and receiving some yummy rewards for being calm), the less likely they’ll be overstimulated and driven to bark.
- Try to avoid inadvertently rewarding barking. When your dog is barking for you to hurry up and take them out for a walk, it can be very difficult not to just give in to what your dog wants. You hustle out the door because you just want the barking to stop. But, if you want to teach your dog that barking isn’t an effective way to get what they want, you must take the opportunity to stop what you’re doing, have an impromptu training session, and only proceed when your dog is calm.
- If you’re looking to add a furbaby to the pack, consider a quiet breed. While there are no completely quiet dogs, some breeds are less inclined to bark than others. If you’re thinking of bringing home a new family member and you’re worried about barking becoming an issue, you might consider one of these 7 puppers.
You can learn even more about curbing a vocal pooch in our article, How to Stop Excessive Barking!
Will you be teaching the quiet command to your vocal pooch?
Whether you’ve got a howling hound or a once-in-a-while woofer, teaching them how to be silent on command is a valuable tool. Does your dog know the quiet command or will you be working on this brand new trick?