This week we have a question from a reader for our very own celebrity dog trainer, Inger Martens, about a very alert Australian Shepherd who barks at just about everything and anything outside the door.
Let's see how Inger can help!
My 2-year-old Australian Shepherd, Phoenix, always barks when he hears something outside our apartment. People outside, other dogs, doors opening and closing- you name it. I've tried about a million methods to keep him from barking, but nothing has worked. It's like a reaction he can't help. The best I could do was hush him down to quiet little "woofs", but even so, it's quite a problem. Any advice?
Here is your Paws For A Minute™ quick tip
Barking at sounds can have to do with territorial behavior which is somewhat response normal response for dogs. However, what will exacerbate this barking and sometimes make it worse is lack of exercise and well… plain old boredom. Australian Shepherds are especially alert! Here are a few steps you could take:
1) Pay attention to the time of day that the barking is the worst. Sometimes people exercise their dogs at the wrong times. For example, i recently had a client who had a similar issue. Her dog was walked and exercised early in the morning and then basically spent the rest of the day barking! You might want to time the exercise to better suite those busy barking times.
2) Next, get the right chew bones for your dog to enjoy! Chewing also tires a dog out and gives them a hobby. A special, new chew bone could be given in a gated area creating a "new space" to chew the bone. By gating an area for a 20 minute period of time while your home will psychologically create a new den space for Phoenix.
3) Put music on while your dog is gated. This creates a calm space that will help get him out of the pattern of going to the door, window or back door waiting for the next sound. All of this will work together over time to help curb the barking.
4) Now, while gated if he continues to bark you can take a coffee can, empty it, put a hand full of pennies in it. If the barking gets excessive, shake the can once, from out of sight, only while your dog is gated. Being out of sight is key! The noise of the can acts just like a siren does of a police car pulling you over for blowing a red light. It's a sanction, a growl or just plain NO! This will can help break the barking pattern.
All of the above sends a signal to your dog of my house, I'm driving and you can chill and relax.
It's really important though, to do all of steps together! Increase exercise, 20 minute increments of gating. Gating your dog for short periods only for pleasant chew bone "chewing" times when you're home, and music! Once your dog is used to this you can extend the gating periods to the busiest times of day. It took 2 years for this to begin so give the new process to help it resolve!
Thanks for the tip, Inger!
We hope these tips help Phoenix learn to use his inside voice, Emilie!
Have a question???? Email us at Tips@TeddyHilton.com or check out more tips from Inger on her website Paws For A Minute!