How To Stop Dogs Barking
Using A Rattle Bottle

A rattle bottle can be used to stop dogs barking, but should only be used as a last resort and where all other methods have failed, or where the dog's behavior is severe.

Two golden cocker spaniels looking out into fields

If you feel you must use a rattle bottle, then we'd like to offer a serious note of caution.

This method should only be used to stop your dog barking after consultation with a professional dog trainer or a suitably qualified animal behaviourist.

If your pet is particularly sensitive, this method may do more harm than good as it may cause anxiety problems in your dog.

These may manifest as body posturing, ears back and tail down, 'lip-smacking', whimpering, or shivering.

It's very easy to make your own rattle bottle by placing a few coins, pebbles, or marbles, into a bottle or a small tin can and sealing it with tape.


Necessary Preparation

In order to stop dogs barking using a rattle bottle, you need to do the following conditioning:

  • Make sure you have some extra-tasty treats within your reach;

  • Pick up one of the treats and hold it between your fingers;

  • Make sure your dog sees the treat, show it to him if necessary, and then move your hand down to the floor;

  • Don't put the treat on the floor, but let your dog take it from your fingers;

  • After doing this a few times, your dog will understand that you are about to offer him a treat and will automatically follow your fingers to the floor each time. When your dog reaches this stage, he's ready to move onto the next step.


Introducing The Sound of a Rattle Bottle

  • Begin by holding the rattle device in one hand, out of sight, behind your back.

  • As before, take a treat and hold it between your fingertips.

  • Place your hand on the floor. Your dog will be expecting a treat and will move towards your hand to take it. This time, however, as your dog goes to take the treat, shake the rattle device quickly (keep it out of sight, behind your back) and quickly move your hand away from him - don't allow him to take the treat.

  • Your dog won't be familiar with this noise and will wonder what it is, and where it came from. He'll be confused and will probably look up at you quizzically. He may also back away.

    Your dog may begin to show signs of anxiety at this stage.

    If there's another person in the room, he may move to them for 're-assurance'. If that happens, the other person should praise your dog and give him the re-assurance he's looking for.

  • Repeat this exercise several times to ensure he's getting the message.

    The message he's learning is this:

    Your dog's previous experiences were pleasant - he was given food each time your hand went down to the floor.

    Now, each time your hand goes to the floor, his experience is no longer pleasant - there is an unusual sound (which he doesn't like) and no food treat.

    It's not long before the dog begins to associate the sound of the rattle bottle with an unpleasant experience and, when used in the future, it will stop dogs barking in their tracks.

  • When your dog hesitates or backs off and no longer takes the treats, the rattle device can then be used, not only to stop dogs barking, but for other severe, anti-social behaviours in dogs. The process is explained below.


Using A Rattle Bottle To Stop Dogs Barking

We advise you to keep the rattle bottle and some tasty treats handy until you and your dog have mastered this exercise.

When your dog begins to indulge in unreasonable barking:

  • Shake the bottle or tin sharply and give the " Be Quiet" command.As before, the rattle will startle your dog and will interrupt his barking. He may look at you and/or he may back away.
  • It's important that your response to his barking is immediate so that he connects the previous unpleasantness (associated with the sound of the rattle) with his current behavior - when he hears the sound of the rattle, he will stop barking.

    If you know your dog is about to bark, using the rattle device before he barks will help to make the training even more effective because it allows you to 'snap him out of it' before he goes into the barking 'zone'.

  • When your dog remains silent for 5-10 seconds, reward him with a treat and lots of praise using the words, "Good quiet boy".

  • When your dog begins to respond to the rattle device, readily and without hesitation, you can alternate the training by first using the rattle bottle and the "Be Quiet" command, and then the "Be Quiet" command alone.

    Eventually, you'll be able to drop the use of the rattle device to stop dogs barking, and simply rely on the "Be Quiet" command.


Please note, we cannot emphasize this point enough - the use of this kind of device should only be used in extreme cases to stop dogs barking, and after taking some professional advice.

We strongly recommend you try other methods to stop barking dogs before you resort to using a rattle bottle.

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