"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

How to Stop Barking

– Posted in: Columns

I have adopted a ten year old female dog. She is a good dog but is a barker and driving me nuts! She came from two households that had a limited number of people coming and going . My household is much more active! If she barked then stopped I wouldn’t mind but she is relentless and is now scaring people. I considered purchasing your newest book but don’t want to purchase another sight unseen “how to ” book that doesn’t help. I need to know how to stop barking.

Mary-Jean

Hi Mary-Jean,

If you’re referring to my ebook, ‘The Beautiful Balance – Dog Training with Nature’s Template’, I do use it for barkers, but as step one. It’s the part that teaches dog owners how to shape a dog into life long “student” mode and the owner into “teacher” mode without all the treats and other nonsense. If you don’t get the teacher/student part in place first it will be harder. Have you ever had someone you didn’t believe was qualified to teach you something try to do so? Maybe when you were a teenager? Parents say, “Older and wiser.” Teens hear, “Older.” You yell in frustration at your barking dog – “Quiet! Quiet!, if they’re listening at all they’d testify you actually said, “Louder! More!”

For behavior problems I’ve found it takes about 30 days of the exercises found in the book to get the relationship in sync enough for less stressful and more meaningful dialogue. For teenagers, I recommend 25 years – more if they don’t have teens of their own yet. During the 30 days I focus on lessor but useful issues and through those seemingly unrelated goals ease the dog gently into a mindset whereas they see themselves as a student and the owner the teacher. This will makes them more receptive when tackling the major issue. Sometimes you don’t need to tackle it all. When a dog is confused as to who’s in charge they can act up. Provide some clarity and they settle down.

If you do it right the transfer as to who’s the teacher and who’s the student is so subtle the dog doesn’t even realize it. It’s like the story about a man 60 years happily married asked what the secret was. His reply, “Well very early in our relationship we decided that to avoid unnecessary conflict all the major decisions would be made by me, “the man of the house” and the less significant ones would be left to the “little lady”. Just between you and me I got the much better end of the deal. Sixty years have gone by and as things turned my wife assures me that there have never been any major decisions to make.”

You can use one of the “quickie” bark collar solutions for excessive barking problems. Sometimes it’s the right tool for the job but often they only solve the dog owner problem – the barking – but not the dog’s problem – which might be a life long impression that deciding who is allowed in the door falls into the major decision department. Close the door on barking and some dogs will think, “Fine, if I can’t bark at that sucker then I’ll just bite him.”, Or as I’ve seen happen more than once, “Fine you handle it. I’m going to go poop on someone’s bed.”

I’m starting a dog owners educational series meet up based in London Ontario. Once a month with different topics. It will be available by podcast as well. Let me know if you’re interested as I’d like some input as to topics.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

2 Comments… add one
Kris May 8, 2014, 3:54 pm

Hello John – We just recently welcomed at 4 month aussiedoodle (now 8 months) into our family. He is a great dog, fun, wonderful with the kids, playful but he has developed some unwanted habits over the last few months that we can’t break. One of them is his outbursts of barking and freaking out over other dogs. He barks and is hard to control on a leash. He is not aggressive or mean, he is extremely playful and social. Most people get the wrong message of him being mean and then he sends the wrong message to other dogs by spazzing out, which then results in him being nipped at. We have tried puppy classes and we have tried the barking collar (sonar) and neither worked. I’ve read books, tried other techniques and now the family is exhausted. Is there something we are not doing or can try. Thanks.

John "Ask the Dog Guy" Wade May 8, 2014, 4:38 pm

Hi Kris,

Thanks for the email. I’ve worked with a lot of dogs like this and when standard approaches aren’t working there’s more often than not two reasons for it.

1. Does the dog show indications outside of the problem area that it understands who the teacher is and who the student is?

Most people think their dogs do but when looked at keeping in mind what a dog is actually capable of doing it appears that most dogs think of us a great college room mates. Tuning this up a bit can really help resolve behaviour issues but this should be accomplished before addressing the behaviour problem as it’s a separate issue. Otherwise the training often won’t gel and in fact can get worse and be stressful for all involved.

2. Can the dog do or stop doing what’s required (or even minor unrelated obedience requests) reliably when not around distractions?

Trying to get a dog to start or stop doing something when they’re already excited is sort of like trying to get a child to learn geometry at the gates of Disneyland. It can be done but there’s likely going to be tears and not necessarily the child. Breaking the problem into smaller bites and not moving forward until successes are solid is key to long term solutions.

If you want some one on one help, I do private sessions in the client’s home that are neither treat or force based in approach. Instead you’ll learn how your dog sees the world and how to shape a teacher/student relationship and address whatever issues exist by harnessing your dog’s individual character and potential.

John

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