After 12 years in this chosen profession, you would think that I could block out the sound of barking dogs. Some days are better than others, but when I’m overwhelmed with the items on my to-do list, and my toddler is having a day where his voice volume is stuck at 11 (Kudos to anyone who picks up that reference) – I have a very hard time being able to block out anything. The constant barking grates my nerves like nails on a chalk board, and my mood turns sour as my fuse gets shorter and shorter.
I am owned by this lovely little man right here. He is a wonderful boy, and very loyal to his family, especially our toddler son. He is SUPER smart and is an Intermediate Tricks Dog Titleholder. He doesn’t like us playing around with Ian too much and he can’t stand to hear him cry in his bedroom because his older brother has told him not to touch his stuff. Boys!!!
Yesterday I needed to get some work done as that to-do list was quickly reaching multiple pages. I sent the boys to clean up their room while I worked at my desk with a bowl of treats and we practiced Leave it, Place, and Recall while I worked on training materials for my classes.
When Ian started getting loud in his room Yadi would bark and take off running for the gate (about 15-20 feet or so from my desk). I would say the following: Yadi (wait 5 seconds) Leave it.
When he came running to my desk I would point to his blanket and cue him for Place. Once on his blanket, I would toss a treat to him. I did this even if he did not come right away and I needed to wait a few minutes for him to come back to me.
After 15 minutes of this, off and on, when I would say “Yadi…” he would come running to me and sit on his blanket by my desk. I no longer had to say Leave it, or Place. He had done what we trainers refer to as chaining.
To him the behaviors of *turning away from what he was barking at, *running to his bed, *laying down, *looking up, and *giving me his attention where now all combined under one cue of his name.
This worked GREAT until my husband came home from and started to read Ian a story. As he started in with the different voices of the characters Yadi started barking at him. I again started with the recall and Leave it. It took him a little while but he did finally start to ignore my husband as well.
Now don’t get me wrong, dogs need to bark. Have you ever tried to go all day long without saying a single word? It’s not going to happen. I would however like him to stop barking when I call his name and thank him for letting me know something was going on. We will get it before long with steady practice though. One of the things we have to remember is to practice in the setting you want your dog to perform in. I could tell him leave it all day and he will leave food but if I want him to stop barking when the boys are playing, that is when I have to practice it.