Dear Critter Corner: We feel that our once quiet pup has found his voice and is doing a lot of barking at home lately. We have told him ‘no’ and ‘quiet’ but these do not seem to do the trick. Is there anything we can do to get our quiet pup back?
This is a great question that many owners struggle with, when to let a dog be a dog and when to say that is too much.
For starters, you need to determine the reason for the barking. If your pup is watching people pass by a window that faces the street, you will need to manage the environment. Only allow the pup window privilege when you can manage them and guide them away when they get carried away with alerting you to a passing intruder. When you are not there to manage, they shouldn’t have access to the window or room to be able to practice the unwanted behavior.
If your pup is barking at noises that they hear but not necessarily see, you can work to teach a ‘quiet’ or ‘enough’ cue. Work with them around the noise and allow them to notice the noise and if they are not barking, you can reinforce the behavior by marking with a ‘yes’ and following with a treat. Repeat several times and you should start to see them noticing the noise and not barking in hopes of a treat.
If your pup is barking at neighbor dogs or even squirrels in the trees, you can use a ‘leave it’ type of cue here. You would need to work on teaching your pup the cue and then generalize it to different items such as the neighbor’s dog or other backyard guests. If they enjoy the freedom of being outside, you can use the loss of back yard privileges to help speed up the training process. Teaching them that in order to have the backyard privilege, they need to be nice to the neighbor’s dog and not bark at them unnecessarily.
If you need more help with your dog, you can schedule a 1:1 Consultation with one of our behaviorists or enroll in one of our group classes at www.phs-spca.org.