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Leonardo DiCaprio is on the screen--everyone in the room is captivated. Except for your dog, who isn’t so impressed. He barks and growls at the screen, ruining this delightful sight for everyone. It isn’t just Leo he has a problem with though, he constantly barks at the TV. This makes watching TV a somewhat unpleasant experience. You could just shut him out of the room, but you want to be able to cuddle and play with your dog while you watch our favorite shows.
Training him not to bark at the TV may also allow you to stop him barking in other situations too. You might be able to get a handle on his barking at strangers and other pets, which would make life a whole lot easier.
Training your dog not to bark at the TV isn’t as complicated as many people think. You’ll need to use tasty food to incentivize him to stay silent. You may also need to employ an effective ‘time out’ technique during training. There are also deterrence measures you can take and means of distracting him so you can finally enjoy the TV in peace and quiet. If he’s young, he should be eager to learn and kicking this habit may take just a few days. If he’s been barking at your TV for many years, you may need up to 3 weeks before you can finally silence him.
Succeed with this training and that brief time you spend relaxing in front of the TV will be just that, relaxing. You may also find training of this sort makes teaching your dog any number of other commands easier too.
Before you get to work you’ll need to collect a few bits. Stock up on treats, or break down his favorite food into small chunks. Cheese is a particular favorite among dogs! You’ll also need toys and food puzzles to distract him from the big screen.
Of course, you will need access to a TV during training, and at a time when you won’t be distracted by noisy kids fighting during commercials. You’ll need just 10 minutes a day for the next few weeks for training.
With all of those boxes ticked, it’s time to grab the remote and get to work!
The Time Out Method
Turn on the TV
As you normally would, switch on the TV and wait for your canine pal to start barking. Just don’t get too comfy, you’ll be getting back up rather quickly.
As soon as he starts barking, take him by the collar and lead him out of the room. Place him in his bed or in a separate room and then shut the door and wait for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, you can retrieve him and bring him back into the room.
When you do remove him from the room, do so in a calm and confident manner. You don’t need to shout and terrify him, you want to give him as little attention as possible.
Increase the time out
If he starts barking again when you bring him back in, remove him again, but this time add another 30 seconds onto his sentence. Do this each time he barks when you bring him back in the room. He will quickly realize the more he barks, the worse the punishment will be.
After a few days or weeks he will slowly get the message. At this point, you can start reinforcing the calm behavior with the odd treat and praise. This, combined with the ‘time out’ technique, will help him learn swiftly how he should behave in front of the TV. When he’s stopped the barking habit altogether, you can gradually cut out the treats too.
The Productive Distraction Method
Have toys at the ready
When you put the TV on, have a couple of toys you can reach for as soon as he comes in the room. Lure him over with them and then play a bit of tug of war with him. By keeping him distracted you are showing he doesn’t need to bark to get attention.
These clever contraptions will keep him occupied for hours. When he enters the room and the TV is on, get out a food puzzle for him to play with on the floor. Gently praise him the whole time he remains calm and focussed on his puzzle.
Many dogs bark out of boredom and to appeal for attention. If you give him plenty of exercise each day he’ll be much less likely to bark. Walk him for longer, give him an extra walk or throw a tennis ball for when you are walking. This will all ensure he’s napping in his bed in the evenings rather than barking at the TV.
Turn the volume down
Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than humans, so the TV will feel louder to him. When he’s in the room, turn the volume down and you’ll be surprised at how less affected he will seem.
If he’s not playing with a food puzzle, give him attention. If he’s barking because he wants attention then simply playing with him will silence him. However, it’s important you play with him as soon as he walks in, don’t start playing with him once he starts barking, this will just show him barking is the right way to get a reaction. Follow these steps until his barking habit finally subsides.
The Start Quiet Method
Bring your dog into the room, then get relaxed and comfortable with him. Also ensure you have a pocket full of treats. Then turn on your TV and set the volume to quiet.
Straight away you need to start gently praising him with word and treats. For as long as he is calm and not barking you need to reward him. The food will be an effective motivator to stay quiet.
Turn the volume up
After a few minutes, gradually start to increase the volume. As the noise gets louder, the distraction will be greater and his patience will be tested. Continue to praise him until he starts to bark.
As soon as he barks, issue a ‘NO’ command in a firm voice. This quick reaction will emphasize barking won’t be tolerated. Also, stop praising and playing with him. Then ignore him until he stops barking. If you give him any attention he’ll see barking as an effective means to get what he wants.
Make sure you follow these steps every day until the barking stops. If you give in just once or twice, pandering to his barking, you’ll set the final result back significantly. Each day, start with the volume low and work your way up to a normal volume. When he remains calm consistently you can lose the treats.
By James Barra
Published: 11/07/2017, edited: 01/08/2021