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Behavior

Training Tips: How to Reduce Barking In Public

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We’ve all had it happen – your dog embarrasses you while you’re out and about by barking at another dog, or barking from the window of your car at trucks that go by. This week, we’re looking at ways to help you stop that annoying behavior and since I’m not in anyway a trainer, we brought in a professional to help us do it…

If your dog doesn’t pay attention to you, or barks at other dogs and/or people, here’s a method that can strengthen your bond with your dog, increase her attention, and reinforce “no barking”. This is not a treatment for aggressive reactivity, it’s for over excited, frustrated, friendly greeters.

• Take a dog bed, blanket, or towel to your chosen location (park, pet store, outside the dog park, your backyard if you have a visibility fence) for your dog to lie on. Make sure your dog has been exercised well and, if possible, your dog should be somewhat hungry (not starving!)

• Bring LOTS of treats; they should be pea sized – you might get away with using kibble if the she has skipped her last meal but usually you’ll need something more interesting such as chopped meat, cheese, hamburger meat, liver, commercial treats that are small and soft, but your pet has to love the treat. (Be sure you read Training Treats that Don’t Pack On the Pounds). 

• Have your dog at a distance sufficiently far away from other dogs/people so she can take a treat. If she can’t take a treat she’s too close (over threshold) and you need to move away. If possible, sit on the floor with her or, if necessary, on a chair next to the bed. Before she starts barking, when a dog or person comes into sight, begin the process:

  1. Put a treat on the floor every 5 seconds, or more frequently if necessary, either between the dog’s legs, or just in front of her nose. Keep doing this. She will soon begin looking forward to the treat.
  2. When he or she begins look at you (“Where’s my treat?”), when she sees another dog or person, begin to give the treat FROM YOUR HAND.
  3. Now begin to “fade” the treat. Gradually increase the time in between treats, a second at a time. Just count in your head.
  4. Continue to stretch out the time between delivering the treats, being careful that the dog stays focused and interested in you.

Many dogs will calm down completely until another dog or person passes more closely or other dogs start barking. You should be prepared for this, and ready to give food as the person or dog(s) approach and pass by.

This is a very effective way to teach your dog to look at you even if there’s lots of interesting action.

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