Barking Dog: A Non-Intuitive Fix


A dog and his clicker

I recently tried this technique for fixing a barking dog. It works. I don’t really know why, but it does. It took 5 minutes.

My dog does this “stranger danger” bark when we have visitors. After a few minutes, the dog settles in, but, initially, the barking dog is driving me crazy. I like the fact that the dog sounds vicious to people who are outside, but I want him to settle in when I let people cross the threshold. Barking at outside people: good. Barking at inside people: not so good.

I heard about this technique from Gary Wilkes. You can read the post here.

This technique assumes you have a dog that expects a treat after it hears a click from a clicker. Getting started in clicker training takes about 10 minutes of time, so don’t let that be a hindrance. Google “clicker training” to learn how. Or do this…it really is this simple:

  1. Get a clicker and some tidbit treats the dog loves.
  2. Give a click, wait a second and feed a treat. Do this 20 times.
  3. Repeat #2 until the dog begins to expect a treat when you give a click.

Turning Off The Barking Dog:

My dog has come to realize that when I roll chairs out from the dining room, it means visitors are coming. Rolling the chairs elicits his “stranger-danger” barking.

  1. I armed myself with treats and a clicker.
  2. I rolled a chair out of the dining room to flip the “barking dog” switch.
  3. Every time he barked, I clicked the clicker. If he came in for a treat, I gave him one.
  4. I rolled a second chair from the dining room. Barking was now almost non-existent, but again, every bark got a click.
  5. By the third chair, the barking dog was not barking anymore.

Later that day, we had actual visitors. He barked when the door bell rang (which I want), but when I invited them in, there was no barking, just a polite greeting.

In 5 minutes training time, the nuisance barking has been fixed.

Anyone who knows a little bit about training will think that by clicking and rewarding the barking, I would make the barking worse. I thought so too, until I tried it. Again, I don’t get it, but it worked for me.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you. Let me know any questions you might have.

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