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Sunday, May 23, 2010

ASK THE DOG TRAINER: Tackling Toy Breed Barking with the Basics

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Joan, Jacque and Oliver
Enjoy a Quiet Moment
Dear Judy:

I have an adorable Papillon, Jacque, that I love dearly. My daughter, the author of this blog, helped me adopt him, after I fell in love with her little Oliver.

Jacque is a delightful house companion and is extremely friendly with humans and dogs alike. We visit the dog park regularly and he enjoys running and playing with the other dogs.

While I have a few small issues with Jacque, the main problem is that Jacque has a shrill bark and he knows how to use it! I have tried a few methods for curbing his barking, but have been unsuccessful. 

I should tell you that Jacque's barking is primarily a problem when he has a barrier between him and the object of his excitement. When he is allowed to run up to the person or dog to greet them, his barking ceases. He rarely barks in the dog park. Can you help us?

Sincerely, Joan

Dear Joan:

Owning a Toy Breed has its own challenges, and training is one of the biggest.  These pint-sized puppies are so small and fuzzy you can’t resist their cute little faces with baby soft brown eyes.   You pick him up and carry him around and laugh at his puppy antics, (barking at the big dogs, jumping on everyone’s lap).   Some small dog owners don’t train their pups enough when young, and may later have several behavior problems that seem impossible to cure. common among these is excessive barking, pulling on the leash, jumping up on everybody, running away when called, and the worst--growling and snapping. You are fortunate not to be experiencing this, as it can be common among toy breeds who lack leadership.  

You may be frustrated, but rest assured, all is not lost.  Providing him with options, and teaching him self control will help bring him under control.

Sit and Stay are two key obedience commands that will allow you to control your dog’s behavior long into the future.  By ‘sit’, I don’t mean the sassy, mini-sit where his little butt pops up off the floor as he sits, and stands again in one smooth bounce.  Cute yes, but don’t reward it or that’s the only kind of sit you’ll ever get from him.  I am referring to the ‘sit’ that will keep him seated wherever and whenever you determine.

As you begin training, to prevent him from escaping and to show him you’re serious in your expectations, practice with him on leash until he learns the commands.  Practice at least 3 times every day for 5 to 10 minutes each time.  Have him sit with his butt on the ground for at least 3 seconds before releasing his treat or toy.  Gradually build up to 10 seconds.  

Once you have the 10 seconds of ‘sit’, add the new command ‘stay’.  He must stay in place for at least the 10 seconds, building up to a long distance stay over a period of weeks.  For now, build up to 30 seconds of stay.  Once he masters sit and stay, add distractions such as someone repeatedly ringing your door bell or walking back and forth with a dog on the other side of a fence.  Again, keep him on leash during the first distraction sessions to keep him from escaping until he responds to the commands reliably.  Gradually add more distractions.  

You can hire a professional dog trainer if you prefer one-on-one guidance, or need special training assistance.  Without doubt, the difference between a trained dog and a well behaved dog is the time and consistency its owner put into conditioning his behavior. Keep practicing and you will see results.

Judith Joseph, D.O.I.

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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Mike said...

This is the exact same thing that happened to me and my wife. We had a small toy dog that would never stop barking. Unfortunately, we had to give him to someone else before we found this article. Nevertheless, great post that will help everyone with a similar situation.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

I'm so sorry to hear you had to give up your pup. Now you'll know where to go in the future if you have Fido problems...hope to see you again.

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