Barking:What's he really saying?
First, let’s ask whys the dog barking? Maybe its triggered by the mailman/squirrel/doorbell, but what’s his deeper motive? Alerting the pack! Most of us appreciate the built-in security system of a watchdog, but after a couple of barks, enough is enough. Unfortunately, human instinct is to raise our own voice, “Quiet! NO! Buster, STOP!” And since barking is a group activity, getting you to join in only encourages the barking to continue.
Recruit your friends and neighbors to assist in a training set-up.
- “Stranger/friend” rings the doorbell.
- When Buster runs to the door barking, quietly follow him over with a piece of food in your hand.
- Exclaim one time “Enough”, then with the treat directly in front of his nose, lure his attention away from the door and into a focused–on-you sit. Reward your dog for cooperating.
- Next time, say “Enough” and patiently wait for you dog to turn his attention to you. When he does (even for a split second), praise and reward!
- Once you have a solid response, introduce this concept slowly to other triggers; cars, bicyclists, other dogs, anything.
With proper timing, eventually you’ll have a dog who barks, you say “enough” and he’ll come running to you looking for direction. Joy!
What if your dog barks in an attempt to get you to do something (throw the ball, feed a treat, open the back door, etc.) Complying will only reinforce this behavior. I recommend ignoring a bossy dog, waiting for him to give up or act desirably, then reward with petting, treats, tossing the ball or letting him outside.
Remember, who's training who?