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How to Teach Your Dog to Bark at Burglars

Everything you've read has been about how to stop your dog from barking. But, what if you don't want them to stop barking completely?

What if you would very much like them to bark when someone is outside and shouldn't be, or if they try to get into the house?

That's where some careful training comes in handy. Because not all barking is bad, it starts with controlling the barking.

This is actually very simple and will likely help you to control unwanted barking behaviours in other circumstances.

Teaching Him to Bark on Command

First up, you may want to teach a dog something other than "speak". Some people I know have gone with the "guard" command. The dog has no understanding of human speech and only associates with the action. But a potential burglar will not know if the dog has the ability to attack or not.

Keep in mind that you can also teach them to respond to both words, but some dogs may not be able to understand that they are the same, so be wary of potentially confusing circumstances.

To teach your dog to bark on command, tie them up or place them in a pen a few feet away from you. Have them sit and wait patiently. It is good to have a dog that can already sit and stay on command when learning to speak. They will respond better to the commands and not get carried away.

From the sitting position, show them a treat or a toy that they will want. Because they cannot reach it, they will grow frustrated and eventually bark at you. When they bark, you will reward them with a treat (or use your clicker if you are clicker training).

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The tough part is to transition from the treat to a verbal command. After all, you don't want your dog going around barking so they can get more treats. So, start watching for the body language that precedes a bark.

When they are about to bark, use your command word. The timing here is very important and will make the difference between success and failure. Once he starts to understand your speak command, you can start teaching the quiet command.

Say "quiet" while he's barking and wait patiently. As soon as the dog stops barking, you can reward him for following your command. If he continues to bark ceaselessly, you'll need to start over with a firm "no" to quiet him. However, don't use "no" as your "quiet" command.

You want him to specifically recognize "quiet" as a separate command from "no". Once he has mastered this trick, you can untie him and start practicing from different distances. It is amazing how a dog can adapt, knowing when it is or is not allowed.

The key here is that you've just taught the dog that an anticipatory bark is under your control. However, a bark to warn you about a burglar will still be there. You haven't taught you dog not to bark. You've only taught him to bark on command when needed.

Ensuring You're Protected

To make sure you are protected in the future from any unwanted intruders, you need to maintain control of your dog's barking reflex without him getting confused. So, if he starts barking, use the "quiet" command, rather than "no". Never associate punishment with his barking.

If he starts thinking that there is a punishment coming, you never know when he'll clam up at the sight of an intruder.

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