It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon, the baby is napping--finally--dad's watching the football game, and your preschooler is coloring at the kitchen table while you start preparing the evening meal. All is peaceful and calm. Suddenly, the doorbell rings and everyone's blood pressure goes through the roof! Why? Because your two adorable min pins, Susie and Sam, are going to go crazy, barking uncontrollably and hysterically.
Soon, the baby is awake and screaming, dad is yelling at the dogs, and your preschooler looks like she wants to cry. Does it have to be like this every time the doorbell rings? Thankfully, no! The chaos that ensues every time the doorbell rings and your dogs go nuts is avoidable and correctable. The training and time you put in will be well worth it and paid back in future calm Sunday afternoons.
To avoid barking and crazy behavior from your dog every time the doorbell rings, you will want to train your dog to ignore the doorbell, be calm when it rings, and possibly, to look for or perform another behavior other than barking. Alternative behaviors might be to sit quietly, look for a treat, go to a mat, or go to a crate.
How you train your dog to react to the doorbell will depend on the situation and your dog. A frightened or aggressive dog may be better off leaving the situation and going to another place in the home, whereas a friendly and excited dog may be taught calmer responses and still get to remain near the door. Remember, your dog is just trying to warn you that someone is approaching your property. Even young dogs will quickly learn to associate the doorbell with someone, often a stranger, approaching the home and will react by barking. Your goal is to teach your dog to stop barking when commanded, and for your dog to remain calm.
Make sure you set your dog up to succeed with training by setting training time dedicated to teaching your dog to be calm when the doorbell rings on a consistent basis. Having an assistant set up to play a visitor and ring the doorbell, so you can be ready and control the situation, will be very useful. Other training aids, like treats for rewards and a clicker or quiet place like a crate or bed for your dog to go be calm at, can also be used. Do not yell at your dog or punish him when the doorbell rings and they start barking, as this only excites and provides a negative association with the doorbell that will exacerbate the behavior. Make sure everyone in the household is on board with the training plan so that training is consistent.
I've heard that Lhasas were originally bred to sound alerts to the bigger, guard dogs outside monastaries. But most aren't needed for that job anymore. My dog doesn't wait for the doorbell or knock. If he sees someone even walking by the house or hears the garage door go up, he goes nuts. Help please.
Hello Judy, First, I suggest teaching him the Quiet command by following the Quiet method from the article linked below. Quiet method and Desensitization method from the article below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, it sounds like he is overly sensitive to people approaching. I suggest working on desensitizing him to people, the garage, and other things he tends to bark at around your home. Check out the video below. The trainer in this video demonstrates desensitizing her dog to people coming over and all of the noises associated with that, you can also include people walking by and the garage door by following the same type of steps. The Desensitization method from the article linked above for teaching quiet will also have some useful tips for desensitizing. How to Desensitize to guests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxPrNnulp5s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Our dog has been trained in agility and does a ton of different tricks. She has a cat brother and is extremely cuddly with her family and friends. However, strangers coming into the house or when the neighbors pull into their driveway (we live in attached townhouses) she barks aggressively. We’ve tried the wait to stop barking but that’s not an option because she can outlast us and we don’t want neighbors or strangers to be uncomfortable. It’s hard to get her to focus on us when she is focused on an “intruder”. Any advice?
Hello Elise, First, for the barking, I suggest combining a few things in your case. You need a way to communicate with him so I suggest teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below - don't expect this alone to work but it will be an important part of the puzzle for what I will suggest next. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - which will be a form of punishment - neither too harsh nor ineffective. An e-collar or Pet Convincer are two of the most effective types of bark interrupters for most dogs. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). An e-collar, aka remote training collar, uses stimulation to interrupt the dog. Only use a high quality e-collar for this, such as E-collar technologies mini educator, Dogtra, SportDog, or Gamin. A good collar should have at least 40 levels, the more levels the more accurately you can train - finding the lowest level your dog will respond to, called a "Working level" so the training is less adverse. In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. If pup tends to get highly aroused while barking and may redirect aggression toward you if you are close by, you will need to correct remotely and not with the pet convincer, unless a professional trainer is helping you manage any safety issues then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Most bark training only gives part of that equation. Fitting an e-collar - it should be put on while he is calm, just standing around - Ideally have him wear the collar around for a while before starting any training so he won't associate the training with the collar but just with his barking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Finding the level to use for him (sometimes you will have to go 1 or 2 levels higher during training while the dog is aroused but once he improves you can usually decrease back to his normal level again) - this training level is called a dog's "Working level": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. An automatic bark collar can also be used during times when he likes to bark while you aren't there after the initial training is done - so he understands that the correction is for his barking at that point in the training. While you are not home, confine him in a crate or room that doesn't look out the windows right now - barking at things out the window lets him practice the bad behavior over and over again and barking is a self-rewarding behavior because of the arousing chemicals released in a dog's brain - so once a dog starts he is naturally encouraged to continue it and stays in that state of mind if you aren't there to interrupt. Rewarding calmness is half the training, so don't skip that part - the interrupter often helps with the initial part of the training but the rewards are often what give long-term results. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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