The canine detective solving problem behaviors.

What do you do when your dog does something you don’t like?

Many people just yell at the dog, push them away or get cranky at their behavior.

However the key to fixing any behavior problem is to sit back and work out why the dog is doing what it is doing, what cue the dog hears or sees that is causing the behavior and what reward the dog is receiving that ensures the behavior keeps happening.

Here is an example:

I’m stuck with my 5 yr old pom/chihuahua mix. When I am not home, she stays in the kitchen area with my other dog, a yorkie. No problems there. The problem is when I arrive home. From the second I park the car to a few minutes after I enter the house, she barks like a little nut. I always ignore her until she stops barking so as not to reward it, but to no avail. It’s not as bad when she’s in her crate, but sometimes I’m gone too long to leave her there.

 (This was posted on Facebook by Michelle a fellow groomer and trainer in the US )

At first glance many positive reward based trainers would say that you do not enter the house until the dogs stops barking  as this will teach the dog not to bark when you arrive home. Many dog owners would enter the house but yell at the dogs to “shut up”. In this case neither solution will stop this dog from barking and the owner has tried with no result to give no attention to the barking as the dog is a very persistent barker.

What needs to happen is that the owner and trainer need to take a few steps back and work out when this dog barks, why it barks and what alternative behavior might stop OR modify the barking. Can this dog be stopped from barking at all? More than likely not as it is excited the owner is home and Poms/ Chihuahua are excitable noisy dogs.

Talking to the owner identified that it is about her and/or her son arriving and the key being inserted in the lock and that she can go outside to put out the trash, chat to neighbours for a while and then go back inside with no barking.  It is not about the car but about the dogs excitement when they arrive home after a period of absence. The dog is also fine when they leave. The dog has been taught a “shush’ command but the excitement of them coming home means she forgets it. Once in awhile she’ll pick up a toy in her excitement and this means that she can’t bark.

As an Animal Behaviourist that has to work out why animals do what they do and find solutions these are all important tips to understanding how to fix or modify this barking. In order to do so it is important to establish what causes the barking to start and what might be some ways the dog has  already exhibited that could be useful as an alternative behavior. Hence the questions that I ask owners so that I can prepare a way to work out a solution to the issue or issues presented. The behaviors that can be solved with quick fixes never end up in my consults sadly, just the ones that owners have not been able to deal with. Then what is needed is a fresh set of eyes and strong questioning techniques to  reframe how the problem is viewed and identify possible solutions.

Michelle is off to try out a few of the suggestions given.

Do you have a problem that you have been unable to solve? Let me know and I would  be happy to help.

Regards

Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician

www.elitepetcare.com.au   |    www.petcaremagician.com |  Like us on Facebook

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Australian Pet Professionals

Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 

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Posted on March 29, 2013, in Behaviour, Dog Training, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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