It was 5:00 AM and Timmy wouldn’t stop barking. Timmy is a Jack Russell Terrier and he belongs to my mother in law. We were keeping an eye on him over the weekend and his barking was already driving me crazy.
I rolled over in bed and informed my wife that Timmy would be learning the word “Hush” today.
Barking is a normal and natural behavior in dogs. Barking becomes a problem when it becomes excessive. You can control your dog’s barking. The easiest way to do this is to teach your dog the word “quiet.”
If your dog is barking and you start yelling “Hush”, “Shut up”, “Stop barking” at him, all you are doing is paying attention to the barking, which can reinforce the behavior.
Training boils down to applying a consequence to any word or command you give your dog. The general rule of thumb is that when you want your dog to do a behavior for you, i.e. sit, lie down, stay still, etc., you apply a positive consequence. When you want your dog to stop doing a behavior, i.e. stealing, begging, jumping or barking, apply a negative consequence.
Let me tell you that when you decide to apply a negative consequence, you have to be careful. The application of positive consequences has no side effects. Apply negative consequences yes.
Back to the barking. Your dog is engaging in behavior that you want to stop, so we’re going to apply a negative consequence. The easiest negative consequence to apply in this situation is breath spray.
Go to your local pharmacy and buy some binaca breath spray or Listerine breath spray. Now you can pair the word “Hush” 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 “Hush” and then lean down and spray it into your dog’s mouth.
Repeat if your dog starts barking again. It is important to remember that we want your dog to learn the word “Hush”. This is done by matching the word with the spray. “Hush”, spray, “Hush”, spray. After a few times, your dog will get the picture.
Once your dog learns the word “Hush” and you don’t need to use the spray, your dog will have learned the word. Once this happens, you can begin to reward your dog for not barking. So if he says “Hush” and you don’t need to use the spray, you can reward your dog by saying “Okay, hush” and give him a treat.
Needless to say, little Timmy learned the word “Hush” and we had a much more pleasant visit with him.