I can’t begin to tell you how many people reach out to me for help with getting their dogs to stop barking, and it probably makes sense that people are inadvertently rewarding their dogs for barking when they don’t want them to. So you may be confused today because I’m going to to reward your dog for just that. It makes sense that a lot of us get dogs because they do provide some form of security.
Obviously there are dogs that can actually bite people and protect you, but it’s just as good if your small little dog can also bark at people and get them to go away. Nobody, regardless of the size of the dog, wants a dog that just barks out of control all of the time.
So today, like I said, I’m going to tell you guys that maybe you should begin to reward your dog for barking when they’re doing the right thing. So here’s a couple of circumstances that you probably already know. I actually reward my dogs whenever they bark at something that’s outside my front door. I also reward my dogs when they’re barking at people from the window, but after I reward them and I tell them what a good dog they are, I ask them to control themselves using some of the skills I’ve taught them over the years.
I think it’s really underestimated how much power there is in reinforcing the dog for doing something that comes naturally to it from its genetics and then having the dog do something that you’ve trained it to do and you’ve made all the right associations for the dog to understand that “hey, now I’ve got it, you don’t have to worry about this threat anymore. You’ve done your job now it’s time for you to become calm.”
So I want you guys this week to really think about rewarding your dogs when they are actually barking. Then use your leash, and a place bed, maybe even heel position and get the dogs into those places. Once they’re actually in control of themselves and that leash is nice and loose that you begin to reward them and tell them what a good dog they are.
A little game you can play is you don’t have to actually wait for that distraction or that thing to trigger your dog. What I mean by that is you don’t have to wait for somebody to ring the doorbell or be walking by for your doctor already be barking. See if you can get your dog barking just in play and then start playing with them. They’re barking their little heads off and you’re telling them how proud you are.
When you’re doing this game, have a leash on them and then go put them on their bed and ask them to become calm. Be very careful at first to not reward them because you need to give them a few seconds to see if they can become calm. Then once they are calm, nicely and calmly pet them and praise them for doing that. Then release them from their stay and get them to play and bark again.
You know you might be surprised that playing a little game like this and then adapting that game to the reality of your life, can really make a big difference.
So, again, just want to encourage you guys to reward your dog for the behaviors that they do give you, then teach them how to control it by having them going to a place or into a down, stay or something like that.
Have a great day and happy training.