Your Shihpoo is following its inherited instinct to bark when someone knocks at the door or when it sees another dog walking on the other side of the street. Just because barking is natural does not make it pleasant or acceptable. Fortunately, you can train your Shihpoo to stop barking on command and to minimize situations that lead to barking in the first place.
How do you train a Shihpoo to Stop Barking?
- Teach your Shihpoo the “speak” command
- Teach your Shihpoo the “quiet” command
- Make sure to keep your Shihpoo active and exercised daily
- Remove barking stimuli
- Be consistent in how you react to your Shihpoo’s barking outbursts
While your Shihpoo can learn to be quiet on command, ironically, you need to teach him or her to bark or “speak” on command first. Training your puppy (or older Shihpoo) not to bark is to suppress his or her instinct to identify a threat or express excitement. Regardless, your Shihpoo is a highly intelligent furry ball of cuteness that deserves your time and effort to develop this skill and who will reward you by learning this behavior relatively quickly.
Details on These Training Tips
It may not make sense, but the first step to training your Shihpoo not to bark is actually training him or her to bark on command. This involves teaching your dog the “Speak” command. This contradiction follows the law of opposition: to feel great joy, you need to have experienced sorrow; you appreciate your health more when you have known illness. Your Shihpoo will not understand the “Quiet” command until he or she associates barking with the “Speak” command.
One highly effective technique for teaching your Shihpoo to “speak” is the “Doorbell Method.” Have a partner stand quietly outside your closed front door. You sit with you Shihpoo in the front room. Ideally, you and your partner will each be on a phone to coordinate the following steps. With your puppy in your lap, hold a training treat close to his or her nose and calmly and quietly say, “speak.”
If your dog barks, give him or her the treat. If not, hold the treat near his or her nose again, and say, “speak.” At this point, your partner knocks on the door, resulting a natural bark. Praise your puppy and offer the treat. Repeat until your Shihpoo is barking on command.
You will naturally fear that your Shihpoo will begin barking every time he or she wants a treat. This is unlikely. Once your dog consistently barks on command, teach the “Quiet” command. Once your puppy barks, calmly and quietly give the command, “Quiet.” As soon as your Shihpoo stops barking, even if to catch a breath, offer the treat.
Work on this training regularly until your dog consistently follows the “quiet” command on queue.
Do not expect perfection. Even with proper training, your dog will still bark from time to time. A dog who is completely silent is likely an abused dog who is afraid of making any noise at all.
Many puppies who exhibit barking “problems” simply need regular exercising. Whether or not your Shihpoo is an exuberant barker, one of your basic responsibilities as a dog owner, along with providing food, shelter and security, is to provide your puppy with sufficient exercises and meaningful activities.
Does this mean you are obligated to take your little teddy bear puppy to the dog park twice a day, have a daily play date with other dogs in the neighborhood, and subscribe to a monthly “intelligent puppy toy of the month” club? Please, no.
Your Shihpoo can spend several contented hours quietly in his or her crate napping and feeling safe. This is one of the reasons Shihpoos can make great apartment dogs.
If your Shihpoo seems to bark at every little movement or sound, you may have a high-strung puppy that just needs more activity. Most Shihpoos will be plenty happy with one walk a day. Some will benefit from an additional walk (one morning, one evening) or 15 to 30 minutes of play time at home.
Shihpoos love chasing balls and playing fetch with chew toys. Your little ball of furry puppy power will also likely enjoy endless tug of war battles. If you are worried such activities might backfire, see this study that included observations on dogs playing tug of war with their owners and their level of aggression. If you start the game and set the “rules,” tug of war can be a very healthy opportunity to help your Shihpoo expend excess energy and bond with you at the same time.
Remove Common Barking Stimuli
Shihpoos are not hounds or terriers. You will not easily find a Shihpoo that barks constantly or persistently. If your Shihpoo is barking, it is usually due to one of three common reasons:
- Danger and anxiety: Sounds and sights they might thing interpret as a threat, such as someone knocking at the door or shadows, images through a window, the presence of another dog or cat, especially an unfamiliar one, that peaks your dog’s curiosity or feels threatening. Close the window blinds or put the dog in a room away from the front door.
- Hunger and thirst: Make sure not to neglect your Shihpoo’s physical needs.
- Boredom and loneliness: Interact meaningfully with your puppy on a daily basis and provide him or her with chew toys and play things to keep busy and engaged.
Be Consistent in Distracting Your Barking Shihpoo
When your Shihpoo is in the middle of a string of barks (perhaps someone has just knocked on the door), it’s hard to get his or her attention to give the “quiet” command. Raising your voice may only make it worse.
There are collars that vibrate, make a noise, or, controversially, provide a shock as a was to get your dog’s attention.
Having at hand a spray bottle filled with water will quickly break your puppy’s focus on the perceived threat, at which point you can then quietly but firmly give the “quiet” command.
Personally, we have come to prefer and even be amazed by the effectiveness of our LED/ultrasonic handheld too. Within a couple days if using this each time someone knocked at the door, our Shihpoos were noticeably quieter and even less assisted. Check out the Inoosky product on our recommendations page.
Hoping to find tips and tricks that will completely eliminate your Shihpoo’s barking will prove fruitless. Barking is what dogs do. With some planning, discipline and proper supplies, you can minimize your puppy’s outbursts. In time, you may come to appreciate your Shihpoo’s infrequent but meaningful bark.
Will a Shihpoo bite a stranger? Shihpoos are unlikely to bite either strangers or family members (including children) in earnest. When a well-adjusted bites, it is usually a “nip” in response to over-stimulation or to being too strongly handled. Strangers are much more likely to be licked to death than bitten by a Shihpoo.
Do Shihpoos growl? Shihpoos are great growlers. If you were to hear Shihpoos growl without seeing them, it would be easy to believe they are vicious and frightening creatures. Growling is common during play time, but it would only rarely be accompanied by actual dog fights.
Do Shihpoos whine? Depending upon the puppy, your Shihpoo may whine when left in a crate or hungry or when he or she otherwise is feeling left out of the fun. While initially funny and cute, constant whining can turn irritating and annoying. Address the reason for the whining and you are likely to solve the whining problem.
Published September 14, 2019