From fireworks to the doorbell or people talking in the street, there are many common sounds that will have a reactive dog up on his paws to defend his patch with ferocious barking.
This is all very well, but in the modern city noises outside your dog's core territory (the home!) are a fact of life. It may be things have got to the point where settling down to watch the latest boxed set is simply not possible. You've no sooner got comfy on the sofa when a shout in the street has the dog giving a deafening bark that has you spilling the popcorn. While this is a good tactic form the dog's point of view for scrounging an illicit snack, it's not so great for your nerves (or his waistline.)
Unfortunately, most people's reaction is to yell at the dog to be quiet. At which point, the dog misinterprets your cries as a poor imitation of barking and thinks you're joining in. Instead, what the clever pet parent does is to either teach the dog to be quiet on command or issues an instruction for the dog to carry out which is incompatible with barking.
If this all sounds like wishful thinking, here's how to make it happen.
However, be aware that barking is often deeply ingrained behavior, so things aren't going to change quickly. Don't be discouraged, but instead channel your energy into regular daily training sessions which will help to retrain the dog.
Also, it's important not to accidentally reinforce bad behavior by giving the dog attention when he barks. If necessary, be prepared to leave the room and let the dog get on with barking if that's the only option. At least then you have withdrawn attention, which sends the dog a powerful message and doesn't unwittingly reward him.
The basics you need to teach the dog to lead a quieter life include:
My sweet girl, Baileigh, attacks the tv any time there is a dog on the tv and is progressively getting worse to the point that she's starting to bark and lunge at all animals and some people.. Just on tv though, she's great with people in person. I've tried getting her attention before she escalates, but she goes from 0 to 100 in nothing flat and once her attention is on the tv, it's almost impossible to break without sending her outside. How can I stop this? It's completely stressful to watch tv in our house right now. Our other dog has no concept of what she is doing and doesn't even pay attention to the tv.
Hello Nicole, You can treat her aggression toward the TV the same way that you would treat aggression toward an actual dog. Work on gradually desensitizing her to the TV from a distance overtime, turning her view of dogs and people on television from negative to positive by giving her treats, toys and games, and encouragement whenever she sees the tv on. Start by having her in another room, where she can see the tv from a distance. Command her to do lots of commands in a row, rewarding her with lots of treats each time so that she is having fun and focusing on you and not the tv. Whenever she looks at the tv, get her attention back on you by blocking her view, giving her commands to do, staying up beat yourself, and rewarding her for complying. Also reward her anytime that she looks at the tv and remains calm, looks at the tv and then back at you, and generally does not react to something that she normally would react to. As she improves gradually work closer and closer to the tv, until she can be in the same room with the tv without reacting. Also play games where she is very focused on you and the game and having lots of fun in the presence of the tv, so that she will associate the tv with fun and also become accustomed to ignoring the tv. Once she can be in the same room with the tv without reacting negatively continue to reward her by tossing a treat over to her and praising her while you watch tv, whenever something that used to up set her comes on and she remains calm, or before she has the chance to react, so that you are communicating to her how she should react before she fails. You can also give her something to do while you watch tv such as chew a Kong stuffed with food, get food out of a dog puzzle or wobble toy, or look for treats that you have hidden in the room. This might help her fixate on the tv less and get aroused. While you are still working on this, she will need to stay out of the tv room any time that you are watching tv and not able to work with her, until she gets to the point where she can calmly be in the room with the tv. All of her experiences with the tv need to be positive and not negative for the training to work, so work on the training often to get to the point where she can be in the room with the tv, so that she can be with you while you watch again. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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