A recent client called about their dog’s nuisance barking at dogs and other animals on television.

A favorite channel in their home was animal planet and that was at the top of the list for Charlie, their hound dog/retriever mix, Charlie has an unmistakable hound dog howl-bark that has greatly increased his owner’s anxiety and stress levels – not to mention making it nearly impossible to watch favorite programs like Victoria Stillwell’s “It’s Me or The Dog.”

Did I mention that she has a wall mounted 53” flat screen TV with surround sound (big woofer speaker included) all designed to bring life-like/sound-like quality right into your living room? This provided some pretty stiff competition for good old Charlie!

If you’ve experienced the same frustration and have now decided to produce your own reality TV program or “doggie intervention,” what’s a compatible solution for this nerve-grating problem that works for both you and your dog?

Simply create a new association and doggie response with the television program for your dog. Here’s how to do this:

  • Get a bowl of high value, pea-sized food treats for your dog. Know also that his next meal will be shorted by the caloric intake of these food treats.
  • Put your dog on a leash to control the training environment.
  • Turn the television on with your normal volume of listening.
  • The second he sees the dog or animal begin to feed him the treats in rapid succession requiring him to look at your face because the treat is in between your face and his.
  • Try to treat before he starts to bark. If you miss it, don’t worry.
  • If he is way too distracted, then do one or both of the following things: Lower the volume or move farther away from the television.
  • Occasionally allow him to look back at the television and repeat the above steps.
  • Relax and wait for the next opportunity to repeat the steps above.

Your goal is to have your dog look at you instead of barking every time a dog comes into view. The last step is to wean him off food treats to a point that you are just occasionally treating him to keep the association strong.

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2010