Dear Miss Behavin’:
Our newly adopted dog seems to be settling in to his new home, but we are having a problem with him barking at the males in the household. How can we correct the behavior?
Congratulations on your new family member! I would recommend that you schedule an appointment with one of our behaviorists to help with the problem, but here are a few tips to start with until then.
If this is an older dog and previous history is not known, we can guess that he is most likely frightened due to a previous encounter or lack of socializing as a young pup. We can start by teaching him that the males in the home are predictors of all things wonderful in his life. Here are a few ways to do this.
If he barks at them in a particular spot in the house, you will have them toss treats that he really likes in his direction when they become visible to him in that area and continue until they are no longer visible. This will teach him that once he sees them the good stuff happens. It is important that he gets treats after he notices them, not before.
Another option is to have the person sitting in a chair with a jar of treats and the pup at a distance he is comfortable. Have the person toss a treat close to the pup; while they are eating that, they toss another behind them. Repeat the exercise with the first treat coming in closer to the person as you see your pup getting closer on their own.
It important to note that if your pup is giving warning signs that they are not comfortable such as moving away when approached, growling or barking, do not scold them! They are simply telling you that they are not comfortable in the only way they know how.
Lastly look into signing up for training classes; this will help build a strong bond with your pup and all members of the household!