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Ask the Trainer: Barking at the Door

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CULPRIT: Koopah, 3-year-old Australian Shepherd mix; generally very well-behaved.

PROBLEM: He barks like crazy every time somebody knocks at the door or rings the bell.

HELP: How do I welcome people into my home without my dog barking at them?

What the experts say:

Janice Lynn Triptow, JD, CDBC, CPDT-KA Dog Behavior Solutions, Inc. Manager of Behavior and Training, Safe Humane Chicago

Through management and training, you should be able to reduce and prevent Koopah’s barking at guests.

Until you have worked out a solution, have your guests call or text before they come, without ringing the bell or knocking. Then get to work teaching a behavior incompatible with barking. At the sound of a knock have Koopah retrieve a toy for you or the guest, hunt for treats you successively toss on the floor, perform a trick, or proceed to a small mat and lie down.

Be sure to teach these skills first without visitors present and then invite guests over to train the behaviors with distractions. you might also try training Koopah to bark and be quiet on cue; then use the termination cue when he barks at other times in order to get him to quiet down.

Lynn Brezina, CPDT-KA CompanionAbility LLC: Obedience Training For Dogs and Their Human Companions

Barking is a fixed motor pattern in Aussies— it may not be possible to get Koopah to stop barking in this situation. But you can get him to calm down sooner by giving him a target spot to go to sit or lie down. If you can remove his physical responses from his bark he will quiet down faster.

Koopah should be taught to go sit or lie down some place away from the door and stay there until he is released. It will take about six weeks of training before he is reliable. During that time, if two people are home, one person should answer the door for guests while the other manages Koopah, on a leash, away from the door.

Koopah should be calm before he is released from his spot. once he is released from his target spot he can be allowed to greet visitors if he can sit and be polite. If he cannot, then he should not be allowed to greet the guests until he calms down.

Initially it will take five to fifteen minutes for Koopah to calm down enough to release him from his target spot, but over time he will quiet down faster. With consistency and time, you can train Koopah to be polite when guests come over.

Have a training question?
Email: experts@TailsInc.com

 

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