Poodles are known for being one of the most intelligent breeds of dog.That can be a mixed blessing. Intelligent dogs have the ability to learn what their humans want them to learn, but they can also learn what they want to learn, such as how much they can get away with. Although it is possible to teach new tricks to a dog of any age, poodle training is best begun when a new puppy is first brought home.
Some barking is normal, and trying to make your poodle stop barking altogether will only result in frustration for both of you. A dog who barks with happiness when you come home from work or who alerts you to visitors at the door is acting like a normal dog, and this is part of living with your poodle. When barking becomes excessive and the neighbors begin to complain, or you are unable to sleep or carry on a conversation, it is time to curb the behavior.
Puppy training for simple tasks such as sitting or lying down on command will help to establish the human as the pack leader, who must be obeyed. When you are firmly established as the pack leader and your poodle barks too much, try holding his or her mouth shut gently but firmly, while saying, "Hush." After you have done this a few times, try just saying, "Hush," and your poodle will likely understand what to do.
A hand signal can also be used when puppy training includes getting rid of excess barking. Decide upon a hand signal such as holding a hand up. When the poodle barks excessively, wait until it pauses and quickly give a treat before it can begin barking again. At the same time you give the treat, make the hand signal. Soon the hand signal, reward, and stopping barking will all be associated in the poodle's mind. Then you will be able to give the hand signal to make the barking stop.
Many poodles bark because they are bored or isolated for long periods of time, and need some outlet. Taking your dog for a walk every day and allowing him or her to sniff the exciting scents of the neighborhood is one way to tire him or her out. Another way is to buy some toys and throw them for your dog to retrieve. His or her natural instinct to chase something moving will cause your poodle to go for it. Using up energy chasing a toy will help to wear your poodle out, and a tired dog who needs to take a nap will be happy and not want to bark so much.
Some dog owners unwittingly perform the wrong kind of poodle training, and train their poodles to bark. If the poodle barks and the family runs to get it dinner or a drink of water or to take it outside, the puppy can learn that barking earns it rewards. If that is the case with your poodle, try ignoring the barking and giving a reward when it stops. Soon the poodle will learn that not barking excessively is a good thing.
If poodle training becomes too daunting, a professional trainer or veterinarian can help. PetSmart has puppy training courses, and many community centers have this service as well. The local poodle club can probably recommend a good trainer who can train you and your poodle how to extinguish unwanted behaviors.