Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ASK THE DOG TRAINER: Taming Excessive Barking, Part I

Bust that Barker
with Judith Joseph
Dear Judy:

I have an outspoken spaniel mix whose barking can be a little overbearing at times. For the sake of my neighbors and dog park acquaintances, I would like to calm his constant vocalizing a bit. I think he feels it is his job to announce every entrance to the park and every dog or critter he sees on a walk. Can you offer some suggestions for our friendly, happy boy to quiet his inner "Town Cryer"?

Thanks, A Dog Park Acquaintance
Dear Reader:

One way dogs communicate is through barking, and barking now and again is expected. Then, there's the dog that barks at everything, despite repeated requests to "knock-it-off". Frustrated? There are ways to recondition your dog and end his barking episodes. All involve identifying what makes him bark and when. Keep in mind that, like the Basset Hound, some breeds are specifically crafted to be vocalists or alert barkers, so research your breed and form realistic expectations before you begin training.

I've eliminated barking episodes by placing the dog on lead and exposing him to the things that made him bark. Stand about 25 feet from the object outdoors, (10 feet indoors), remaining in one spot--saying nothing. When he's finished barking and settles or turns away, remain in place for one minute more. Say "let's go", give him a treat and walk away from or past the object. Repeat several times. Get a foot closer each practice until you can pass with no barking.

For more distracted barkers, add "stop-turns" to regain focus. Approach the object from a good distance. The moment he barks, stop, abruptly turn and walk in the opposite direction saying nothing. Ease him along as most likely he'll be looking back, barking. When he stops barking and begins to follow you, praise and treat. After a few steps, turn and head back in the original direction. If he reacts repeat the "stop-turn". The goal is to get closer to the the object.

When you get to within 25 feet, stop walking and remain in one place saying nothing. If he barks, wait until he's settled, then stand in the same place one minute more. Say "let's go", provide a treat and praise as you walk away. If he doesn't settle after 2 minutes of standing, walk away and start again. Repeat the exercises several times during walks until you can pass the objects (s) with no barking.

Looking for more ways to teach "Quiet"? Go to Teaching Quiet on the Total Control Dog Owner Assistance website.

Good luck,

Judith Joseph, D.O.I.
ASK THE DOG TRAINER at All Things Dog Blog
For more information on Judith Joseph and her training, you may find her at TCDOA Dog Training. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

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© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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