Max, the normally friendly, relaxed Rottweiler puppy, goes berserk whenever he is on a walk with his owner and a skateboarder passes. He lunges at the hapless skateboarder and barks hysterically. Even though he is a puppy, Max can be an intimidating dog. He usually startles the border, which could result in an accident if someone becomes distracted and loses their balance, or misses a change in terrain. Max’s owner does not want people to be frightened by Max. what can he do to break Max’s skateboarding hostility?
Skateboarders and bicyclists are common triggers for dogs and puppies to bark at. They tend to trigger the prey-predator response, or because they move unexpectedly, visually presenting a human standing still while moving fast, which is confusing and some dogs can interpret this as threatening. Either can result in barking behavior and overreacting to the presence of a skateboard, especially in a puppy that is not used to novel sights and sounds, and may easily be excited or intimidated.
You will want your puppy to ignore, or react calmly but with curiosity or interest, in passing skateboarders. To develop this behavior, you want to create either a neutral or positive association with skateboards, to replace the excited or threatened response your puppy has previously been displaying. To do this, you will need to capture the moment your dog first notices the skateboard and positively reinforce your puppy or distract him from his barking behavior. This requires timing and practice for success. Since puppies are usually quite malleable, and their reactions to stimuli like skateboards are usually more easily changed then those of an older dog, that has a more ingrained response.
Acclimatizing your puppy to skateboards is another strategy for changing his reaction. Once your puppy learns that the skateboard is not a threatening object, his need to bark at them will decrease. You can also teach your puppy to bark on command for treats. This will be used for stopping him from barking at other triggers as well, if this becomes a problem, and works by teaching your puppy that if he barks when not asked to, he does not get rewarded.