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Easy to Make Dog Training Tool: The Shaker Can

I'm a dog lover who shares things I've learned over the years. I'm currently owned by a Jack Russell Terrier.

Lurking in the blankets, waiting to attack the next person who dares to walk by the front of the house.

Lurking in the blankets, waiting to attack the next person who dares to walk by the front of the house.

Stop That Barking Dog With a Little Noise

Some dogs bark when they are supposed to. Some bark at every noise. Others could care less and ignore it all.

Barking is a big issue with my Jack Russell Terrier. She's always ready to defend the home front. Luckily, she does not bark when out in the yard. But watch out if anyone comes to the front door.

I love my dog. She's fun to be around, great for laughs, and a little bit of a comedian. But there are times she can drive me up the wall. She's a small dog and very chatty. She is always saying something.

Those cute little noises become a frenzy of barking if someone rings the doorbell, walks by our house, talks loud outside, etc. She's got to tell us all about it—and boy, does she!

I can't control her verbally. She hears nothing but her own barking. That's when a shaker can come in handy. It knocks her out of the barking frame of mind and brings her back to the present.

I'll show you how to make your own shaker can. They are easy to use and should help to keep your canine in line.

Any soda can, emptied and cleaned, will make a great shaker can.

Any soda can, emptied and cleaned, will make a great shaker can.

How to Make a Dog Training Shaker Can

Step One: Find a Can

The first thing you need is a can. Any soda can will do.

Drink the contents first—no sense wasting it. Then rinse it out and let it dry so that it doesn't smell.

Pennies or pebbles work as noise makers.

Pennies or pebbles work as noise makers.

Step Two: Add the Noise Makers

You need to fill your can with something that makes a clanking sound. Pennies, nickels, screws, metal washers, small pebbles . . . use whatever you have handy. Be sure that whatever you use you don't really want back. The inside of the can may be sticky and whatever you add to it is going to be the same.

You don't need many, 10 or 15 pennies will make enough noise to scare the whole household.

Add your sound-making material to the can. Rattle it a bit to see if it has the desired effect. Chances are if it startles family members it will startle the dog.

Don't make it rain pennies.  Cover the top securely with duct tape.

Don't make it rain pennies. Cover the top securely with duct tape.

Step Three: Cover the Hole

You need to cover the hole on your can; otherwise, the first time you shake it vigorously, you'll end up being showered with pennies.

Any kind of sticky tape will do; duct tape, masking tape, packaging tape, etc. Seal the entire top of the can with tape so that there is no chance of the pennies escaping.

And, there you have it! A very cheap, but effective dog training tool!

Get Yourself a Good Dog Training Book

When I was having trouble with my Lab several years ago, I picked up a copy of Good Owners, Great Dogs. I still have it some 20 years later.

I can't tell you how many times I've pulled it off the shelf and used the methods to help me with my dog. There's information for basic training, stuff you need to know for the first 2–3 years. Then, there is a section on behavior problems.

What I liked about Kilcommons' approach is that it makes use of common sense. I think that makes the methods more approachable and even easier to follow.

A good dog training book will get you through a lot of rough spots. Find one that fits your philosophy and approach.


The Barking Jack Russel Terrier

This is my Jack Russell Terrier. Isn't she cute? Inside that 10 pound body is a loveable dog and an entertainer. She's great to be around and keeps everyone laughing.

But beneath that those big ears lurks trouble. Misha barks . . . and barks . . . and barks. I think those ears give her the ability to hear things happening two blocks over. She gets riled if someone is talking down the street and when the UPS truck comes around. That barking gets on your nerves.

Misha has another problem. She won't let people in the house. She's either defending the front door or she's so excited to see you that she is bouncing around everywhere. I have to put her on a leash just let people inside.

Any old soda can can be a training tool.

Any old soda can can be a training tool.

Misha Meets Her Match

I tried many different things to keep Misha in line. I've done what Cesar Milan recommends by claiming my territory. I stand in front of the door and let her know this doorway is mine. It works sometimes. We've made considerable progress as most of the time she defers to the pointing finger.

That's usually when I employ method number two . . . I yell. And, that only makes me more frustrated and gets her barking more. It also scares the neighbors.

One thing I know is Misha is afraid of noises. That's where the shaker can come in handy. It took a few tries, but once Misha learned that if she ran to the door and barked that the loud clanging noise would happen she started to back off.

It took a few weeks before she began to respond just by me touching the can. Now, most times all I need to do is point to the can and say "do you want me to shake that?" She runs away usually muttering to herself . . . things I'm sure I don't want to know.

How to Make the Most of the Shaker Can

You'll have to work with the can to find what works best with your dog. Usually, one or two shakes with a verbal command will do the trick. The verbal command reinforces what you want the dog to do. It also works the dog towards the day when the can is no longer necessary. Then you'll be able to say "Go", "No Bark", or whatever command you are using and your dog will actually listen.

At first, try to surprise your dog. If your dog is barking, come close enough so the dog will hear the can, then give it a good shake. If your dog is like mine, the first reaction will be "What the heck was that?" It will break the barking cycle and they'll be more worried about the scary sound inside the house instead of whatever they heard outside.

Not Every Training Method Works on Every Dog

As with all dog training methods and tools, you won't know if it works until you try. If it works, continue to use it to get the desired result. If you find that it doesn't work, move on to something else.

My sister's dog is so terrified of the shaker can that she runs from the room. She hides and won't come out. The shaker can is too much for her. My previous dog, a Lab, could care less about the shaker can. She'd give me this look as if to say "Is that the best you can do?" The shaker can is the perfect tool for my little dog, Misha. She is scared enough by the sound, but not traumatized . . . The rattling sound shakes her from her barking frenzy, which is what we need.

One other thing . . . be consistent. You can't expect any tool to work if you use it one day and then don't the next. In order for the shaker can to work, your dog needs to put together cause and effect. He must conclude "if I bark, that nasty sound will happen." So, don't try once and say it's useless. Commit for a week, two weeks, a month. Do it every time, within reason, that your dog exhibits unwanted behavior. it takes time to set a pattern. If you are consistent you have a better chance of success.

If you find the shaker can doesn't work for you, try something else. There are so many tools and methods to employ when dealing with problem dog . . . and don't be afraid to seek advice. Your veterinarian can point you to resources and dog trainers who help with specific issues.

Other Dog Training Tools

You've seen the shaker can, but there are more tools out there to help you with your dog's issues. Clickers, anti-bark collars, noisemakers—they can be useful for working with dog behavior problems.

Whatever tools you use, remember this. Use them properly and use them consistently. It will only confuse your dog if you skip from one thing to the next. Dogs like consistency. They eager to learn but if you keep changing your methods they will only get confused.

That being said, don't stick with something if it isn't working. After you've given a training method a couple of weeks to work, assess your dog's behavior. If it doesn't work, move on to the next method.

Transitioning Away From the Noise Maker

Though the can worked great for shaking Misha out of her barking reverie, I eventually wanted to work her away from the can to verbal or physical commands. Once the can started to work, I started using verbal commands along with it. I first used "No Bark". This worked okay with Misha but wasn't enough.

I added a physical command along with the words. I stepped in front of her so I was between her and the door, then I pointed away from the door and gave the "No Bark" command.

I didn't really get the results I wanted until I changed the command to "Thank You . . . You Told Me". Don't ask me why, but this phrase works best with Misha. It's most likely the tone I use when I say these words as opposed to the more simple "No Bark".

Most of the time all I need to do is give the verbal command. Other times, I put myself between the door and Misha to claim the spot and give the hand signal as well.

I doubt she will ever stop her yappy barking. It's part of her breed. But, controlling it is within my power. And, that makes for a much happier household all around.

Does your dog bark too much? Do you have a barky dog and found something that works? Share your thoughts with us!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Thanks for visiting!

Jane on August 12, 2015:

I'm going to try this!

Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on May 31, 2013:

I think it's a wonderful idea. Would like to give one to my next door neighbours.

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on May 31, 2013:

Excellent - such clear and straightforward steps to making your own dog training' tool