Indeed, it's got to the point that the dog is still barking some five to ten minutes after the visitor has been welcomed inside. This is rather embarrassing, especially when friends call round for a coffee and you can't hear each other talking because of the dog barking. Out of desperation, you gave the dog a chew to occupy his mouth, so he can't bark, which seemed to work.
However, one friend who is also a dog lover, tactfully pointed out that giving the dog a chew to quieten him, could be misunderstood by the four-legger as being rewarded for barking. Thinking things over, you realize they have a point. But this now leaves you wondering exactly how you do stop the problem barking.
When you have a puppy, this is a golden opportunity to avoid certain pitfalls that accidentally reinforce barking, such as telling the dog off when someone calls at the door. A great strategy with a puppy is to acknowledge that he's alerted you to the visitor by saying, "I got this, thank you." Then the pup knows his bark has been acknowledged and he can stand down from guard duty.
For the adult dog, things get more complicated as the behavior can be deeply ingrained. But don't worry, with consistent practice and plenty of patience, you will both get there.
Nuisance barking at neighbors.
Hello Michelle, For barking at the neighbors I would recommend a combination of teaching the "Quite" command and desensitizing him to your neighbor. Instructions for teaching the "Quiet" command can be found in the article: "How To Teach Your Dog To Stop Nuisance Barking" under "The Teach 'Quite' Method". After you have taught him the meaning of the word "Quiet", then stand by the window or door or in the yard, or wherever he is seeing the neighbor from and barking at him at. Clip a leash onto him for added control at first and let him see the neighbor and bark for a second. After just a second of barking block his view and softly tell him to be "Quiet". Get close to him and walk toward him to move him away from the window or area if he is having a hard time focusing on you. Do not yell because that will only excite him more. Instead speak softly and calmly to him to calm him down. As soon as he stops barking for even a second, then praise him and give him a treat. You can either use normal treats or dog food or you can use a little peanut butter. Make sure that the Peanut Butter does NOT contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol though because it is extremely toxic to dogs. Repeat showing him the neighbor, interrupting his barking, and then rewarding him for becoming quiet for even a second. Practice this very often! The more often the better. Once he will become quiet when you tell him to even while he is looking at or hearing the neighbor, then also reward him for looking at the neighbor and not barking even when you have not told him to be quiet and even when you are not right next to him, and have to go over to him or to toss a treat to him in order to reward him. Also whenever he remains quiet when told to or on his own, reward him again. At first, reward him after just a few seconds of quietness. As he improves, reward him for remaining quiet for longer and longer periods of time. If you are able to, I would also recommend introducing him to your neighbor and having him receive treats from that person quite often, so that he will be more likely to recognize the person and not feel anxious about their presence outside. By rewarding him for his quiet behavior while he is looking at your neighbor or hearing your neighbor you are doing two things. The first is teaching him that being quiet is appropriate and very rewarding so that he will want to do it, the second thing is teaching him that your neighbor is actually a wonderful person to see become good things like treats happen when your neighbor is around. The second part will help him to not feel anxious about your neighbor and that alone should decrease the amount of barking. To speed up the training process, if you are friends with your neighbor, you can even have that person go outside when you want to do a training session, so that your dog will see them and bark and you can work on his quietness. Otherwise you will just need to look for opportunities to work on the behavior whenever your neighbor happens to go outside. When you are not training him, block his view of your neighbor as much as possible, to prevent uncorrected barking from making the problem worse and slowing down your training efforts. Do this until your Simba can look at your neighbor and be quiet on his own. To maintain the Quiet behavior after you have taught him all of this, an additional option that you can combine with the training is to purchase a device called Pet Tutor or Auto Trainer. You can set up one of these devices to automatically reward your dog when he is being quiet while you are away also. You could place this device wherever your dog likes to go to spy on your neighbor and the device will reward him for being quiet in that location while you are away. I would very strongly recommend that you also spend time training him to be quiet and relaxed about your neighbor first though, or the device might not have enough opportunities to reward your dog and he might not make the connection that he is being rewarded for being quiet. If you have already taught him that quiet behavior equals a reward, then the device will simply be showing him that that principle is still true even when you are not at home. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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