When I was a child growing up, I loved the poodle we had. She was kind, smart, and didn’t shed that much. It was easy to see why my parents decided to go with a poodle for the family dog. At the same time, she also seemed to bark all the time.
It seemed like everything set her off. Somebody pets her the wrong way, she barks. Somebody dropped something, she barked. Of course, if the doorbell rang, she went absolutely berserk. Why did our family poodle bark so much? There are a few points to keep in mind.
She Wanted Attention
The reality is that the poodle is not the only dog breed that barks a lot. In general, smaller dogs bark a lot to get the attention of others. Let’s take a closer look at how this attention-seeking behavior manifests itself.
There Are Numerous Reasons Why Poodles Bark So Much
Sometimes, it is shocking to see a noise that is so loud and so shrill come out of a package that is so small.
I noticed that when our family dog was with other dogs, she would seem to bark even louder. Why would our family dog want to bark so much? There are a few reasons why.
One of the first reasons why poodles seem to bark so much is that they are trying to find a way to assert their leadership. While we have the tendency to treat small dogs like babies, this might not be the best move.
If we treat small dogs like babies, then we tend to dote on them every minute of every day. While it is fine to give dogs lots of love and attention, they will also falsely think that they are the ones in charge.
We were definitely guilty of this growing up. My sister would even put the poodle in the stroller and roll her around like she was, absolutely, a baby.
This is probably why our small dog felt like she was the ruler of the home. This means that when they want attention from someone, they think they should get it every time.
Therefore, they will bark loudly to get everyone to pay attention to them.
Protect the Home
Another reason why small dogs bark so loudly is that they are trying to protect the home. If they feel like they run the home, then they also feel the need to protect it.
Of course, poodles are not the only dogs that feel like the home is theirs and that they should protect it. Most dogs feel this way. On the other hand, most dogs are larger than poodles. They feel like they can protect the home without having to bark loudly.
In this manner, poodles bark loudly for two reasons when it comes to protecting the home. First, they bark loudly because they want to alert everyone in the home that someone might be at the door.
See the doorbell example from the beginning of this article. Second, poodles are barking loudly in an effort to intimidate someone who might be trying to enter the home. They do not have the size to intimidate people or intruders, so they try to bark loudly instead.
Of course, this doesn’t really work that well and most people still see poodles as the lovable, cuddly dogs they are! At the same time, this doesn’t stop them from trying!
Poodles Bark out of Boredom
Barking is all about getting attention, simply in different ways. The last thing any dog wants to feel is left out. Poodles are no different.
The downside is that because poodles are smaller, they are left out more often than other dogs. If your poodle is worried that he or she is about to be left out of something, then he or she will bark to make sure that everyone else knows that he or she is still there!
If you keep your dog involved in your activities, then he or she might not feel left out and will be more likely to bark.
When I was a kid, we wanted to include our poodle in everything. Of course, this was not always possible. For example, if we sat down to dinner, our dog did not join us at the table.
That didn’t stop her from trying and she would bark and bark to try to join in. If we were getting ready to go somewhere, our poodle would always assume that she was going.
She would be very disappointed when we left without her and she would immediately start barking. If poodles are left out, then they will feel bored. As a result, they will start barking instead.
Bark out of Fear
Finally, one of the biggest reasons why poodles start barking is out of fear. Poodles are smaller dogs. Therefore, they are easily scared or intimidated by other people or dogs who might walk by.
While poodles bark a lot in an effort to act tough, they are still easily scared by other people or dogs who are unfamiliar.
This used to happen all the time with our family dog. She would sit by the window and act as the protector of the home. In reality, she barked at everything that moved.
If another dog walked by, she would immediately start barking. If another person came by, she would do the same thing. I found that as soon as I walked over to her to take a look out the window and let her know that it was fine, she would stop.
The reality is that poodles are very smart and they will respond well to training.
Does this mean that a poodle can be trained to bark less? Absolutely! Let’s take a closer look at a few ways that poodles can be trained to bark less.
Training Poodles To Bark Less
Eventually, there came a time when we had had enough of our poodle barking. It was so shrill and so annoying that we knew we had to find a way to put a stop to it.
Therefore, we tried to be as patient as possible as we started training her. We knew that it would take a while but we eventually got it done. It is hard to correct a dog that barks persistently; however, we were able to use the reinforce and reward method to make it happen.
One of the ways we were able to accomplish this was by using the “on command” method. The steps involved in this method are:
- Trigger: We waited for our poodle to start barking. Of course, this did not take very long. She barked at pretty much everything. This could have been another person, another dog, or a loud noise.
- Pair Command: When our poodle started barking, we said to speak. Then, we gave her a treat. We used this trick several times. Why would we reward our poodle for barking? We wanted her to associate the “speak” command with barking. Now, she knows that there is a command to bark.
- Command Bark: Eventually, we started asking her to bark using the command above. When she did it, we provided the treat. Now, she knows that she can be told to bark by her owners.
- Add Quiet: Then, we took this one step further. We asked our poodle to bark using the “speak” command. Then, we tried to silence her using the “quiet” command. This time, she only gets a treat if she follows both commands. This is how we trained her not to bark.
- Do Not Reinforce Undirected Barking: Finally, we also did not reward her for barking she did on her own. She was confused at first as to why she did not get a treat, but she eventually learned. She likes treats more than barking, so this is how we got her to stop.
It took a while for us to get this training to stick; however, there were a few other things that we did to try to get her to calm down. One of the biggest steps we took involved in getting her more exercise.
While many dog owners take their dogs on walks, it is not enough for a dog to simply trot attached to a leash. Our poodle had a lot of energy, so we would take her to the dog park all the time and let her run around.
That way, she got plenty of exercise and never felt bored. As a result, she got enough attention and never felt like she had to bark uncontrollably anymore. When this was combined with training, we found that this worked well.
While other people might not mind their dog barking so much, we get tired of it. Therefore, we decided to put a stop to it. It took a while for our poodle to stop barking, but it did work after a while. Then, our house was much happier!