How to Train a Black Lab Puppy to Stop Barking

Your black Labrador puppy is cute and quiet while asleep.

Your black Labrador puppy is cute and quiet while asleep.

Black Labrador retriever puppies tend to be rambunctious little furballs, constantly barking out of excitement or to get your attention. While barking could seem cute in a young puppy, this bad habit could quickly become annoying to both you and your neighbors if left unchecked later in life.

Reward your Labrador pup when he is quiet by giving him both praise and treats. Ignore your puppy when he is barking. This sets a precedent for your young Lab to follow, teaching him that barking doesn't result in something good, while silence does. Labrador retrievers are known for their intelligence, making them easier to train than other breeds, especially during their first six months of life, according to "The Labrador Retriever: A Comprehensive Guide to Buying, Owning and Training." These dogs respond well to positive reinforcement and food rewards.

Train your Labrador pup to associate a command for silence with the desired result. Wait for your Lab to start barking, or prompt the pup to bark by having another person ring your doorbell or knock on the door. Once your little one gets vocal, say the command, such as "quiet" or "silence" -- use only one-word commands to keep it simple for your pup to understand. Wait for your Lab to stop barking and immediately treat and praise your dog. Alternately, very gently take hold of your puppy's muzzle while he barks and close his mouth shut for a few seconds. Follow this up with plenty of praise and a treat. Over time, extend the time between issuing the "quiet" command and giving your dog a treat to encourage your dog to not only stop barking, but stay quiet for a long period of time.

Provide your rambunctious black Lab puppy with plenty of toys to keep him busy during the day or whenever you aren't in the home with him. A bored puppy may not only become destructive in your absence, but may continuously bark for attention until you return. Fill hollow chew toys and treat balls with yummy treats like peanut butter, cream cheese and kibble pieces. While your little furbaby is busy playing with his toys and getting at the treats inside, he won't have a chance to become anxious and bark.

Block out any stimuli that can encourage your Lab pup to bark during the day. Close your curtains to prevent your dog from seeing other animals outdoors, such as cats, dogs or squirrels, which could trigger barking. Play soothing music to help mask the sounds of the outdoors, which could also cause your dog to bark.

Desensitize your little guy to the presence of other animals and people by exposing him to them at a distance, such as in a dog park. Continuously treat and praise your Lab during such exposure to reward him and keep him quiet. This teaches your pup that these creatures are something good, not something to be afraid of or become territorial around and bark.

Exercise your little black Lab daily with walks and games to reduce his urge to bark, recommends the Humane Society of the United States. Even a well-trained young puppy needs an appropriate outlet for his extra energy. Otherwise, that energy will be channeled in unpleasant ways for you, including barking, barking and more barking. Labradors were originally bred to retrieve game while hunting, so games like fetch play into your dog's natural instincts, engaging him both physically and mentally. While outdoors, bring along some cool, bottled water for your pup to drink and don't let him become overheated. Black dogs, especially young puppies, can easily become overheated in sunny, warm weather because their coats retain the heat more than lighter-colored dogs. Keep your puppy in shaded areas and indoors on particularly warm days while exercising him -- hide and seek makes a great indoor game for your pup.

Enroll your black Lab in puppy obedience classes to teach him basic obedience skills, manners and commands. Professional dog trainers can help you during these classes to train your black Lab pup to not only perform basic obedience commands, such as "sit," "stay" or "come," but also to bark or be quiet on command. These classes provide an excellent way to socialize your pup to other dogs and other people, reducing his barking when encountering strangers. They also get your puppy used to regular obedience training. Check with the American Kennel Club to see if it offers puppy obedience classes in your area. You may also want to enroll your pup in the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program, which stands for socialization, training, activity and responsibility. The program offers classes that teach your dog basic obedience and prepare him for enrollment in the Canine Good Citizen program to further his obedience education. According to the AKC, Labs make excellent therapy dogs, so consider such programs to help your dog qualify for therapy pet training after he reaches a year of age. Groups such as Therapy Dogs International accept dogs who have passed the Canine Good Citizen program to work as therapy dogs in local schools, assisted living facilities or hospitals, among others.

Items you will need

  • Dog treats
  • Dog toys

Tips

  • Issue a command for quiet only once, as repetition can confuse your little Lab. Reward your furbaby within three to five seconds of his obeying a command, otherwise your puppy won't associate the reward with the action he performs.
  • Labrador retrievers are natural watchdogs, with protective instincts to bark when a stranger approaches you or your home. Socialization with as many strangers as possible during your puppy's first six months helps to reduce his natural reaction to bark at people or other animals he doesn't know.
  • While teaching your Lab the "quiet" command, train him to speak on command; each of these commands help your dog understand the other. Say "speak" and prompt your dog to bark by knocking on the front door or having someone else ring the doorbell. Reward and praise your pup when he begins to bark. Use the quiet command to shush him, treat him, then start again, going back and forth between the two commands.
  • Keep training sessions with your little black Lab positive, fun and short -- no more than 10 minutes at a time -- so that he enjoys them.

Warnings

  • A medical problem could be the cause of your black Lab puppy's excessive barking. Bring your pup to the veterinarian for an exam to rule out an illness or injury causing your little guy discomfort or pain.
  • Never punish your puppy or yell at your little one for barking. Physical punishment is cruel and will only serve to make your pup fear you, not deter his barking. Yelling actually reinforces barking. Your furbaby takes yelling to mean that you are barking along with him.
 

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

Photo Credits

  • Labrador retriever puppy image by crazy.nataly from Fotolia.com