Puppies are just too cute—aren’t they?  But sometimes that smallness and cuteness encourages the owner NOT to train their dog – big, big mistake!

I did a series of puppy training lessons with a really cute fluffy puppy and went down the list of recommendations to do and precautions to take and showed them how to avoid potty accidents, how to create a well-balanced and confident pup who was not prone to bad manners or barking and everything I go over in puppy lessons – “nose to tail” so to speak.

That was about 4 months ago. And as I have always known, my suspicion of “owners remaining the biggest challenge” continues to be proven over and over again.

We got a phone call from that cute puppy’s Mom that her puppy was out of control:

  • Barking at them if they didn’t give her the attention immediately by picking her up.
  • Barking loudly at visitors entering the front door.
  • Barking at the odd startling noise she hears on occasion.
  • Barking at the sound of the elevators running up and down the elevator shaft.

“It simply must stop. It’s driving us absolutely crazy,” says the client.

I found out myself on the first of the new series of lessons as I entered through the front door for the first time in a while. Wow! What a set of pipes! There had been no structure in the dog’s life.  It was:

  • picked up,
  • doted on,
  • allowed to lounge on the big sofa near the front door waiting eagerly for the next person to come through the door or odd suspicious sound to loudly sound out with her shrilling alarm barking.

It was after all, “her job”.   She had nothing better to do other than to do “her job” which she created all by herself.

Clearly she lacked structure, routine and exercise. With the family, housekeeper and nanny, surely someone had the time to work the dog??

It was now time for my heart-to-heart talk with all parties involved. I hate this part but I had to do it. I made the following rules and daily schedule:

  1. Every hour on the hour each person had to spend 1-2 minutes doing sits and downs with the dog.
  2. Three times daily on the half hour 2 people would engage the dog in the come command back and forth between them.
  3. I recommended that the owner put the dog on an “earn-to-learn” or “no free lunch” program by requiring her dog to earn everything by performing at least a sit.
  4. We then went back to utilizing the crate more frequently in the beginning by requiring the puppy to stay quietly in the crate for random lengths of time throughout the day so that we could take back control of our couch space and prevent any barking until we were able to work with the puppy doing set ups.

After the first week and a half, the barking stopped significantly – not completely but the client has her life back and
she definitely sees how consistency in routines and repetitions in obedience training has made a difference in her and
her puppy’s life.

Don’t let your puppy barking problem get out of hand before doing something about it.

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

(C) Jim Burwell 2011