Does your dog bark excessively at people and other dogs walking by your campsite? Does your dog bark a lot while it’s inside AND outside of your RV? Does your dog just bark at EVERYTHING?
If YOU’RE frustrated by this, imagine what your RV neighbors must be thinking! We all seem to have a bit of time on our hands lately, so let’s get busy turning your dog into that RV neighbor everyone enjoys being around.
Before You Start Training Your Barking Dog
I know this is going to sound a little weird but stick with me. The first thing you need to do is stop feeding your dog from its food bowl. Put the bowl away because your dog’s food is what you are going to use to train your dog to stop the excessive barking. Don’t worry, your dog won’t starve, but he will become very food motivated which will help in the training process. I told you it was going to sound weird, but here’s what you do instead.
- ● Purchase some hollow chew toys, like KONG or Sumo, that are just the right size for your dog.
- ● Measure out your dog’s kibble, wet food or raw food for the day and place it into the hollow chew toys.
- ● Give them to your dog throughout the day when you want him to be calm!
This first step is especially important if your dog has never used a hollow chew toy. Use this technique until your dog gets faster at releasing the food from the toy.
Once your dog is used to using the hollow chew toy, it’s time for the following steps.
- ● Measure out about a third of your dog’s kibble for the day and place it in a jar.
- ● Place the jar in an easily accessible location – on your counter, side table, dining table, etc.
- ● Take the rest of your dog’s kibble, add water and let it soak until it puffs up a little, then stuff it into the chew toys.
- ● Freeze the chew toys with the soaked kibble inside. You can do this with raw or wet food, too.
- ● These pupsicles can take hours to eat. So give them to your dog when you want him to be calm and quiet, especially when you’re not in your RV. Dogs can’t bark while they’re eating a pupsicle!
If you want the reasons behind taking away your dog’s food bowl, watch this video by my favorite dog behaviorists and trainers at Dunbar Academy.
Training Your Dog To Stop Barking
All you have to do to get a quiet dog is give your dog his pupsicles. Now you’re finished, right?
Well, not quite.
Here’s the fun part where we get into the nuts and bolts of getting your dog to stop his excessive barking. Although Dr. Ian Dunbar says that about 90% of your dog’s excessive barking can be reduced in a couple of days using the frozen, stuffed chew toys, you still have some work to do.
You now need to reward your dog for not barking AND stopping his barking.
Training/reward for not barking:
- ● Set a timer to go off every 20 minutes.
- ● When the alarm goes off, check on your dog.
- ● If your dog is being quiet and calm, give him some praise. Calmly tell him that he’s being a nice, quiet dog. You can give him a piece of that kibble you stashed in the jar.
Pro Tip 1: The more you reward your dog for not barking, the more he’s going to stay quiet. If you only talk to (or yell at) your dog when he’s barking, he’s going to start doing it just to get attention. You are unknowingly rewarding your dog for barking; the very behavior you don’t want. Oops!
Once your dog starts barking, they WILL eventually stop, even just for a few seconds. This is where your timing must be pretty good so you need to pay close attention to your dog’s barking behavior. Follow these steps and you’ll be successful!
Training/reward for stopping his barking:
- ● Dog barks then stops. Ignore the barking. Don’t yell or your dog will keep barking thinking that you are “barking” because there must be a reason to bark.
- ● When your dog stops barking, gently praise him by saying “Good quiet one, good quiet two, good quiet three.”
- ● Calmly walk over to your dog and reward him with kibble or a gentle scratch.
Pro Tip 2: Counting with each “good quiet” ensures that you are giving enough time in between your dog’s barking and when he’s quiet before rewarding him. Waiting those three seconds means that your dog will only associate the treat or scratches with being quiet. He won’t be rewarded for barking. Yep, it only takes three seconds.
Pro Tip 3: Get your dog to extend his quiet time by stretching out your counting before you reward him. When he can consistently stay quiet longer, you don’t need to reward him each time. Reward him every other or every third time. Keep him guessing about when those treats will be coming, and he’ll keep working hard to stay quiet.
Train Your Dog to Bark and Be Quiet on Cue
Your dog needs lots of practice with his new “quiet” command. Train your dog often how to be quiet, but when it’s more convenient for you, by teaching him to bark on cue. Here’s a video by dog trainer Zak George, that can help.
Pro Tip 4: If your dog won’t bark to get a treat like is shown in the video, create a situation you know your dog WILL bark at: a friend knocking on the door, a friend walking by outside your RV window, a friend walking their dog outside your RV, etc.
So, there you have it folks. Your dog CAN learn to stay quiet if you follow the training steps above. Your dog will be more relaxed, you will feel calmer and your campground neighbors will love you for it.
Jeannie Dees is a former teacher and dog trainer. After 20+ years of part-time RVing she and her husband, Erick Young, began their full-time RVing adventure in 2015. No matter where they travel in their RV, their pets always go with them. You might know their little dog Cricket, since she enjoys meeting lots of people. These days, you can find Jeannie helping other RVing pet owners online at TiresAndTails.com and through their accompanying Facebook groups.
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