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Not barking

When a Boxer Dog Won't Bark | Training a Boxer to Bark

Boxer dog not barking
Jaxx, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of owner: 
Kimberly Marciano, N.Y

Overview

While many owners are concerned about a dog being too vocal, it is not uncommon for just the opposite to happen. 

Is it normal for a Boxer dog to not bark at all?

If your Boxer puppy or older dog is super quiet and doesn't respond to any triggers by barking, does this mean that something is wrong?

Here we'll discuss why a Boxer may be very quiet and why some Boxers are very laid back. We'll also touch on the subject of training a Boxer to bark at the door and if this is a good idea.

First, Rule Out Other Issues

Most applicable to white Boxers, but something that should be checked with any colored Boxer, is the possibility of hearing issues. 

If a dog is not hearing any triggers, he may not be vocal. 

That aside, there can an issue with the vocal cords or larynx.
Dogs that have had a lot of strain on the neck due to choke collars can have nerve damage to the pharynx and larynx that could limit their ability to bark. While these issues are often accompanied by breathing issues, not barking is indeed one of the symptoms. 

Most Common Reasons why a Boxer Won't Bark

1) Age. 

While puppies in general are notorious for barking and/or whining (and isn't it fun when that happens at night?) young puppies have a decreased level of situational awareness. 

Much more than adults, they are often lost in the moment and may have trouble focusing. For this same reason, a young Boxer puppy may seem perfectly okay when left home alone, but issues of separation anxiety may develop as he grows older and fully realizes what is happening. From the age of 8 weeks to just about the 5 month mark, it is not all that uncommon for just about nothing to bother a puppy.

At this age, he may not be aware enough of his extended world to find a reason to bark. If his needs are being met (interaction, plenty of toys, food, water, warmth, comfort) he may not bark at all and this is perfectly normal. In fact, if your Boxer puppy doesn't bark, consider yourself very lucky and do know that this may change very soon. 

In regard to age related reasons of not barking, senior Boxers may also be exceedingly quiet. For some older dogs, the triggers that used to cause barking are old news. Those squirrels? Seen them thousands of times, no big deal. The mailman who comes up to the front steps? Well, he's done it about 3000 times and so far he's never actually broken into the house, so no reason to bark anymore; I trust him.

The senior Boxer has heard it all, seen it all and has been exposed to just about every event, situation and element that he is likely to encounter. So, if a senior Boxer doesn't bark, this is usually just a sign that the dog is relaxed, confident with his environment and generally a pretty happy canine family member. 

2) No triggers. 

While it's highly recommended to expose your Boxer to as many stimuli as possible so that he can learn about the world and all that is in it, in some cases a Boxer may not be introduced to anything that would trigger barking.

If a dog is at home most of the time and is only taken outside for walks in a very quiet neighborhood, he may not bark simply because he has not been presented with a reason to do so. In addition, all needs are being met and the dog is feeling content. It is however, suggested to start bringing the dog to new places and to expose him to other people and other dogs; this is not done to make a Boxer bark but rather is healthy socialization to the world so that he can learn how to react and learn to handle himself well in situations outside of the house and immediate area. 

3) Being calm. 

What's really cool about dogs is that every one is so unique and even with a particular breed like the Boxer, there's some that are hyped up, some that are super calm and many that are somewhere in-between. There's some that will only bark at really random things like when an owner sings or when seeing just one particular type of person.

In general, barring any health conditions, if a perfectly healthy Boxer doesn’t bark, this is not a problem at all. It just means that the dog has a calm personality; he's not bothered by things and is displaying easy-going behavior. While an owner may wish for their Boxer to at least bark at strangers that come up to the house (more on this ahead), you may just want to consider yourself lucky.

4) Rescue dogs. 

While behavior can be a bit unpredictable with rescues, many will have inhibited behavior which manifests as being really quiet, not barking, acting shy, timid and even showing signs of anxiety or fear. 

We rescued a dog that was about 10 years old and the previous 'owner' claimed the dog was mute. He didn't make a noise for a full 6 months; when he finally did (and it wasn't really quite a bark, it was more like a 'booop' sound), we just about had a heart attack and then celebrated that he found his voice. Even so, he was always a rather quiet dog, never really barking at anything and only making soft noises when he did want to vocalize.  

Should You Train a Boxer to Bark?

Here's the thing about teaching a dog to bark. To do this, you have to increase his level of territorial awareness and encourage the dog to become frustrated enough to bark at a trigger. 

And once this behavior is praised and rewarded, it often can domino to many other elements. 

If you want to train your Boxer to bark when someone's at the door, this can develop into him barking at other people in all other situations and even to other triggers like cars and other animals… and you may find yourself wishing you were just content with a quiet dog. 

With this warning well in place, if you do want to train your Boxer to bark, it can be done. This is for owners who want their dog to bark when strangers approach the house, simply to announce to them that a dog is indeed present.  

How to Teach a Boxer to Bark

Keep in mind that this training is only to bark if someone is outside the house at the door and in no way involves any sort of aggression that would lead to biting or out-of-control behavior. 

You'll need an assistant to be outside. During the training, this person should alternate between ringing the doorbell (many intruders ring the bell first to check if someone is home) and making other noises that would mimic a break-in such as banging at the door and/or rattling a can with coins in it. Your helper should announce his arrival with 2 to 3 rings or 5 seconds of noise… wait for a count of 15 and then repeat. 

You'll be ready inside with your Boxer, with treats hidden in your pocket but easy to access. Be sure to use something special that would not usually be given. Crisp, microwaved bacon often works well (be sure to blot out the grease and to have this in a zipped plastic bag so that your Boxer can't pick up the scent). 

Be in a relaxed vibe, giving no indication at all that anything is about to happen. 

When the noise begins, immediately jump up and in a very serious and concerned voice, say' What is that?' Speak as if you are very concerned and have your body language convey that something may be wrong. Some Boxers move into a more alert mood if the owner does a 'stage' whisper. 

If your Boxer does not bark at all for these sorts of things, expect him to be rather confused in the beginning. He may pace a bit and even may make a soft whining noise. At first, that is all that is needed, just for him to be aware that someone making noise at the door was cause to be alert. Give him a pat and then be sure to change the vibe to a relaxed one. 

You can let in your helper and be sure to speak in a happy tone to that person to convey that after being on alert, the visitor can turn out to be a friendly one that is welcomed into the home.
As you move on, at some point your Boxer will let out a bark and at that point, you'll give the special treat immediately. It's important that the treat be given within just a second of the bark, so that the dog realizes exactly what he's being rewarded for and importantly, learns that no more is needed nor expected. 

Be sure to use a 'release' word such as 'Okay' or 'Clear' and then use a happy, relaxed voice to indicate that there is not a threat. 

If at any time your Boxer seems anxious instead of simply alert or gets too revved up, it will be time to stop this sort of training, since you really don't want to risk your dog's normally happy state of mind simply to get him to bark

Summary

If your Boxer puppy does not bark, he may very well outgrow this and it's recommended to not encourage barking since it can spiral out of control. 

If you wish to teach your normally quiet Boxer dog to bark at the door or another trigger, do be careful and stop if aggression is shown. Remember that refraining from barking is not a bad quality to have.

Having a calm, content and relaxed dog that feels comfortable with his environment is much more appealing than a dog that barks at every little thing. 
Quiet white Boxer dog
Tyson, 10 months old
Photo courtesy of owners:
 Chris & Benita
While big and strong, with what may be an initial intimidating appearance, a Boxer dog is like an overgrown toddler. This is not a breed that should be expected to intimidate people; even if his size and a bark caused someone to stand at attention, his wet sloppy kisses and expressive eyes would give away his friendly personality soon afterward.
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