Training is not always smooth sailing. Events in an animals life can resurface at peculiar times.
The training experience began with a dog that barked when left alone. The owner just moved to a new condo located on a busy corridor by the lobby. They wanted the dogs separation anxiety to be extinguished so when they leave the don’t annoy the neighbors, so training ensued and the barking was minimized significantly however a behavior from the past resurfaced. 4 months prior we had captured a vocal behavior that was so cute. The dog was taught to meow on command and it was a behavior they found very desirable.
The once desired behavior is all the non barking dog could do. So instead of barking the dog was meowing to release his discomfort of being alone .
Even though the family and friends found this hilarious, it made me realize that even if you train the dog not to bark, does that mean they are truly comfortable? From this session I am beginning to think that might not be the case!
I say this everyday but set your dog up for success. Barking is no exception!! Here are some key tips to eliminating barking.
If your dog is already crate trained that’s perfect but if not allowing your dog access to loud hallway noise, neighbors chatting and moving trucks , it’s best for them not to be waiting at the door for noises.
Leave your tv on or the radio . This works two ways. It really drowns out the noise from outside and incase your dog happens to bark or whine it drowns them out as well.
Windows can be a huge barking problem. Eliminate the temptation by putting up the curtains. Until you have a trainer come in help slowly adjusting your dog to ignoring objects outside. The windows have to covered. ( this is a whole other topic).
So important! Make the home exciting and stimulating.
Remember you can not expect results if you don’t set yourself and your dog up for success.
Dogs have many different types of barks. There is barking out of fear, aggression barking, warning barking, and attention barking and barking out of excitement. Once you recognize what type of bark your dog emits it is actually easy to address the issue.
What if I told you that one way to solve a basic barking problem is by teaching your dog to bark! On the surface this sounds bizarre but there are great training benefits.
Barking, like all my topics, is a multifaceted topic. So today we will focus on barking on command and quiet on command. Then Monday the focus will be on how to set your dog up for success in barking.
Barking on command: bring some treats with you and find a quiet space. Ask you dog to ” speak” using a verbal command or pair it with an open hand signal. When your dog starts to bark say good and reinforce them with a treat in front of their face. Once your dog is consistent with this behavior when you ask them to “speak” ask them to “quiet”. After they bark put the treat in front of them and say “quiet” or you can also pair it with a hand signal ( shut your right fingers together). If they are quiet reinforce them. Continue everyday on this behavior. Eventually if your dog is barking you can ask them to quiet and since it us now a learned behavior the dog will quiet!
Remember like all positive reinforcement training this takes patience and time. Also giving the treat to your dog at the correct moment . This is the hardest part of training to make sure you reinforce at the right time. With these techniques your dog will or should I say will not be barking any time soon .
A lot of people want to know what the difference is between positive reinforcement training (PRT) and using dominance training (DT).
It is important when choosing a trainer to know what to expect. A positive reinforcement trainer uses positive stimuli ( treats, toys, affection) to elicit a positive result.
The positives: This is a great way to get results. The dog learns behaviors at their own pace without breaking their spirit. The dog really thinks about the behaviors and emits behaviors because they want to, because the feeling of doing a behavior you ask is more positive or rewarding then disobeying or refusing . Dogs love attention and giving dogs attention for desired behaviors and ignoring behaviors that are undesired is the main principle in positive reinforcement training.
Negatives: people call PRT “cookie cutter” or “treat obsessed”. PRT does take longer for desired results than DT.
Dominance training: DT uses force or negative stimuli to get results. To avoid punishment the dog through trail and error emits the desired behavior.
Positives: quicker results. Dogs most likely do not exhibit the undesired behavior do to avoiding punishment .
Negatives: using force and scare tactics can break the dogs spirit.
Owners differ and the way they prefer to train, in turn, are different. Here is an example of a trained behavior and how each training technique gets results.
ie: dog jumping up.
PRT- if the dog is jumping up the trainer will either ignore the behavior by turning your back the second the dog stops jumping reinforce that behavior. Over time the undesired behavior subsides and the problem is solved . Or the trainer redirects and if the dog has had basic obedience training, simply ask the dog as he is running up to sit before he jumps and reinforce that behavior. Eventually the dog will sit when you return do to all the reinforcement they received for sitting.
DT- if the dog is jumping the trainer might knee the dog in the chest when he jumps up. To avoid being kneed the dog stops jumping.
Both techniques work but it depends on how you, as the owner, prefer to train the dog.
A lot needs to come into play when finding a trainer. A good trainer will observe your dog, ask about their past, observe their environment and understand why the dog might be emitting undesired behaviors. A poor trainer can misuse either of these techniques resulting in no or worst results.
So bottom line is : check credentials, ask the trainer what training method they prefer and why.
To solve a puppy biting issue I use a method called redirection. Puppies have a natural instinct to nibble, bite and eat objects and/or body parts ( fingers, toes, hair etc). So how do you stop a behavior that teething puppies have such a strong want? You redirect!! When puppies play with other puppies one way they know the play is too rough is when a puppy yelps. The puppies are startled and will actually stop playing . This can also be used in training. When your puppies nibbles on your fingers or toes , give a high-pitched yip. This is one way to let your puppy know that hurt and play needs to stop. However if your puppy is still nibbling away redirect their behavior with a toy. Let your dog know that chewing toys gets praise and biting fingers gets negative responses. Since puppies will need to bite this will be a long process but you will realize how nice it is that your dog bites his toys instead of you or wires.
Once again if you cannot supervise your puppy around wires, shoes etc. limit their space.
There are also sprays to discourage biting but remember to always be behavioral so if you use sprays also use the training techniques as well.
Biting can be solved by redirecting biting to a toy. Saying no or yelping when the puppy bites you and supervision if puppy bites wires or shoes so you catch them in the act and can redirect.
Puppy biting is also temporary but you don’t want the puppy to mature and have the play, soft biting escalate to aggression or aggressive playing.