Petiquette With Jim Burwell: Dog Barking Got You at the End of Your Rope?

If you dog’s barking is out of control about reacting to distractions like your doorbell ringing, or seeing a neighbor outside, then understanding how “training for specific circumstances” can be especially beneficial to you.

If you own a dog, then you have more than likely – at one time or another – been faced with “what to do” with your dog when he demands recognition of his full authority by exerting his take-charge attitude.

”Training for specific circumstances” is literally teaching your dog to respond to distraction sounds in “relevant situations” like in the examples above “instead of” responding to verbal cues like sit, down, come or quiet. Let’s take a look at this hypothetical example and for some of you it may be real and you need it fixed as soon as possible. Here’s the scenario:

“Your doorbell rings and your dog immediately charges the front door and begins to bark as if to scare the bad guys away. It’s his job, right? Or at least he thinks it is at the moment. Wouldn’t it be much, much better if, instead of yelling at him to “Quiet!” or “Come!” he takes the doorbell cue to go to his dog bed?

It is actually very simple to “pair” or “link” the doorbell sound to the command, “Go to your bed!” and then eventually eliminate your command. The simple way to do this is to first ring your doorbell and then say, “Go to your bed!” and then eventually drop the command and your dog begins to respond to the doorbell ring.

Now, I suppose you are asking yourself, “What’s the benefit?” Well, here it is. When you begin to correct your dog for barking, your timing is off and in many cases your dog won’t associate your verbal corrections with his barking.

And, if you are yelling, he probably thinks you’re trying to help him scare the bad guys away. However, if your dog now responds to the doorbell by going to his bed, timing is perfect and you have eliminated the barking.

Your dog’s preferred behavior is no longer contingent on you hearing the doorbell first and then sending your dog to his bed – rather your dog hears the doorbell and immediately goes to his bed.

Remember, consistency and repetition is the key. Keep your training fun and always end on a happy note.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010