Monday, June 27, 2011

Ask the Dog Trainer:
Controlling Barking in the Car

by Terry Lynn Cuyler, APDT, CPDT-KA
© Carrie Boyko
All Buckled Up and Ready to Go
Dear Terry-

Why do my dogs bark at other dogs from the car? When we get out of the car, my dogs are friendly and enthusiastic about meeting other dogs and people. Can you help me stop the behavior that occurs every time we pass other dogs along the road or in a parking lot? It does seem to be more of a problem when the dogs are larger. Why???

Confused owner
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Dear Confused,

I sure understand how annoying it can be when your dog barks at passing dogs, especially if you have more than one.  I am thrilled that they are friendly with dogs they meet once they are out of the car.  We may not know exactly what they are attempting to communicate but listen to the pitch and number of barks and it may give you a clue.  Are they frightened or wanting to play?

© courtesy Amazon 
Minimize the visual stimulation and then teach them a Quiet command to regain peace in your vehicle.  A Calming Cap by Premier can be worn to cut down on what they can see. Think of it like the blinders they put on racehorses.  The Cap won’t blind them, just cut down on the stimulation and have a calming effect.  Get them used to it by putting it on and giving them treats. 

Train a QUIET separately with each dog at home first, and then in the car – then train together.  Do something you know will make the dog bark like knock on the wall, then say QUIET in a quiet voice and put a smelly treat right on his nose. Don’t give it to him right away.   He’ll quiet to sniff and THEN give it to him.  Say ‘YES’ as soon as he quiets and then treat.  


Dogs can’t bark and sniff at the same time.  The timing of your “YES” marker tells him it's being QUIET that earns the treat.  When you’ve got each one responding to QUIET by himself, then try together.   That’s harder because they egg each other on. 


Now try it separately in the car and then together.  This may require driving around the block a few times looking for dogs.  This method doesn’t use punishment to correct the barking, but teaches an alternative behavior. If they don’t fight over toys or food, you could also try distracting them with food toys in the car. 

A word about safety: Dogs and people are safer when dogs are secured in either crates or crash-tested seat belt harnesses.  They don’t interrupt the driver and they will be more secure in an accident. You can visit this link to see the crash-tested model that Tanner is wearing in the photo above. With adapters, it works with your seat belt connection, luggage tie downs in the cargo area, or other secure hardware under your seat. Safe travels!

Terry, Paws Prof

Our ASK THE DOG TRAINER Column can be reached at LetsAdoptaDogPark@gmail.com
For more information on Terry Lynn Cuyler and her training, you may find her at Paws Prof. 

A personal appointment with a trainer will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

The PawsProf's advice does not replace an actual consultation with a qualified trainer.




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