There are a few reasons. First of all, your dog is trying to protect you and your home for someone he doesn't know. After all, the mail person does not come in the house and make friends with you or your dog. Which leads to another reason your dog barks: he gets a payoff for barking when the strange person approaches his territory and then leaves. Your dog feels he has succeeded in driving off the threat, he has been rewarded and reinforced for his behavior! Also, the mailperson is easy to predict. He or she comes at the same time each day, and your dog is alerted to their approach by the sound of other dogs in the neighborhood barking. For these reasons, teaching your dog not to bark at the mailman can be a challenge!
A dog that barks at the mail carrier is alerting you to potential danger. Teaching your dog that the mail person is not a threat will be the key to teaching your dog to stop barking at the mail carrier. It is natural for your dog to alert you to potential threats, to you, your home, and himself. The behavior you are after is to help your dog distinguish between what, and who, is and isn't a threat.
Your first step will be making sure that your dog is well socialized, regardless of their age. A dog that is predisposed to seek positive attention from other people can be taught who and what they need to alert to. Part of your training will be to specifically teach your dog the mail carrier is not a threat, which will often involve introducing your mailperson to your dog and creating a positive association.
In a rural community where everyone has large dogs, the dogs are loose to protect farms. Residents all have mailboxes at the end of their driveways. The local mail lady carried inexpensive treats with her whenever she delivered the mail. She would drop a few treats for the resident dog and soon she had even the most grumpy old farm dogs running down the driveway to her with tails wagging and taking treats eagerly from her hand, and none of them ever barked at her! In fact, the neighborhood dogs waited by their mailboxes at the same time each day, eager for her arrival. Most mail carriers are not going to go this far to create a positive relationship with your dog, so you will have to create the positive association instead.
Fiyero barks at everyone and everything that passes the living room window. He throws himself at the glass, and has broken blinds. We got a wooden fireplace guard to put around the window to reduce his access to the windowsill, but he has now broken this as well. We are at the end of our rope. He’s going to hurt himself, or damage the window.
Hello Aisling, 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 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 - neither too harsh nor ineffective. A Pet Convincer is one example of an interrupter. 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!). 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. 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. 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. If you can recruit friends to pass by the window at a distance pup is less reactive to, have them practice walking in and out of sight at that distance, rewarding pup when they don't bark. As pup improves, have the friend pass by at gradually closer and closer distances. Once pup is calm when that friend passes, have a different friend start the same process over again, until pup is calm around that friend to, repeating this process with a dozen different people, with and without their dogs with them. When you aren't home, I recommend confining pup in a crate or another room where they don't have access to that window, so that they aren't practicing the unwanted behavior in the meantime when you aren't there to train. Practicing the unwanted behavior will interfere with your progress with training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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