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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking—by Thanking Him for Barking

Filed in - Training Tips - Dogs

Don't mind your dog giving a woof or two when people pass or approach the house—but want him to stop when you've got the message?

  • First, temporarily block access to the window or door where your dog tends to bark.
  • Next, train a cue that for you means "that'll do" and for the dog means "hey, I have something delicious for you over here." My suggestion: "Thanks!"
  • Start far away from the window. Stand right in front of your dog. Give the cue, followed immediately by a click and a small, soft, meaty treat right in front of you.
  • When the dog starts to brighten up at the cue—before the treat even comes out—move to the side, so he has to turn to you to get the treat. When he starts turning, switch to clicking the turn.
  • When the dog is turning quickly, move a few steps away and switch to clicking movement in your direction. Work up to having the dog follow or chase you into another room to get the treat. If you have a dog that loves to chase, this can be an extra treat. Click when your dog has found you in the other room.
  • Move to the window or door where the dog usually barks. Get in some good practice when nothing's happening outside. Then stand close to the dog again, wait for passersby, and give the cue the instant your dog begins to bark.
  • When he's responding well, give the cue from farther away, increasing your distance a few steps at a time.
  • Remember that your cue will reinforce whatever comes just before it. Be sure you cue the dog after just a woof or two.

Extra credit

Your goal is for the dog to come away from the window to find you on the "thanks" cue. When you've accomplished that, try skipping the cue. Your dog may come to see why you haven't thanked him yet! If that happens, reinforce him for coming to find you. Keep it up and your dog may begin to skip the barking altogether.

 

About the author

Kiki Yablon is a KPA CTP in Chicago, Illinois. She owns Dog Training by Kiki Yablon and is the training manager for Animal Behavior Training Concepts.

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