A Pair of Dachshund’s Learn to Stop Barking By Following Their Guardian’s Lead

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 12, 2015

Annie and Danica

Annie and Danica live in Norfolk Nebraska.  Their overexcitement and barking at people they don’t know was starting to drive their guardian crazy so she reached out to me for some help.

When I first met them I could instantly see that Danica was insecure. While Annie came over to investigate me, Danica stayed in the back or moved behind furniture away from me. To help her feel more comfortable, I ignored her and sat down to discuss the situation with their guardian. Over the course of this short conversations, both dogs repeatedly jumped on on the humans in the room or on the furniture.

I discovered that when Danica was frightened or otherwise unsettled, that her guardians picked her up and petted her in an attempt to sooth her. While this seems like a logical way to calm someone down to a human, it actually reinforces the exact symptom that the human is attempting to pet away. Whenever a dog is in an unbalanced state and it receives attention, the dog interprets it as getting the attention or affection BECAUSE its fearful / scared, etc.

I suggested that in the future, the humans avoid petting her when she was showing insecurity or fear. A better way to deal with these issues is to get the dog moving in a forward motion. So rolling a ball or play toy that gets the dog to chase it or taking it for a walk is a much better way of dealing with those unbalanced behaviors.

Their guardian said that she never walks them anymore because of how much barking and unwanted behaviors they exhibit on the walk. While these are not high energy dogs, daily exercise can go a long way towards developing a good leader follower dynamic. It also affords the human the ability to correct and teach the dog when it gets out of position or exhibits an unwanted behavior.

Because the dogs liked to sit on top of the couch and bark at people who passed by, I suggested that their guardian institute a new rule of no dogs on the furniture. This will help with the barking as being on the floor will limit what they can see. It will also help the dogs start to see and identify as being in a follower position as dogs often relate the height that they sit at to their rank amongst them members of their group or pack.

After going over some additional rules and structure for their guardian to incorporate, we practiced the door knocking ritual. I had their guardian’s grandchild go outside and play the part of a visitor knocking profusely at the door. As soon as the dogs heard the knock, they rushed over to the door barking excitedly.

I got up and walked over to the door without saying a word. I ignored the barking as its a symptom of the dog’s thinking that they were in charge of security. My goal was to help them understand that being in charge of security was no longer their job. Security is something a leader dog does in a dog group.

Once I got to the door, I turned so that I was facing the dogs with the door to my back. I started out by focusing on Annie as she was barking more intently than Danica. I marched right at Annie and stopped to the right and left when she did to block her while always continuing my forward steps. Once I got her back behind a eight foot border I wanted to establish I stopped moving forward.

Annie stood in place for a moment, then tried to go around me. I blocked her by stepping in that direction at the same time that she did. Confused, she stopped barking for a second and sat down. As soon as she did, I turned my attention to Danica stepping right at her. This stopped her barking and moved her several feet away rom the door.

Once Danica was past the boundary, I took a step backwards towards the door. I paused after the step to be sure the dog’s stayed in place. When they did, I took another step back, paused and repeated the process until I was against the door. Once near the door, I turned slightly so I could reach the door handle while keeping my shoulders facing the dogs. I giggled the door knob a few times as this sound can act as a trigger in itself.

But this time the dogs stayed in place so I cracked the door open a bit. Again, I paused to be sure they weren’t going o move forward before I preceded. By pausing for each step or movement, I was able to break down the door greeting into multiple mini exercises. Only after the dogs showed me they were able to defeat each trigger did I move to the next step.

It took about 3 minutes, but I was able to get the dogs to sit down and wait eight feet away from the door before I opened it. The dogs barked less than they did when I arrived and they remained in a much calmer energy level.

I asked her granddaughter to step outside and repeat the exercise, but this time I had the dog’s guardian answer the door. This time the dogs didn’t bark at all as she answered the door.

I suggested that she practice this door exercise a few more times with family and friends. She took me to heart and dialed up my next client who happened to be a friend of hers, and asked if she would drop by and knock like crazy. This time the dogs barked a few times, but their guardian was easily able to move them away from the door. Once they got past the new eight foot boundary, they stopped barking and sat and laid down.

It shouldn’t take the dogs long to give up their self proclaimed security job now that they understand their guardian is plenty capable of handling the door without their assistance. Most of my clients achieve that within 6-12 repetitions of the exercise.

While their guardian was extremely happy about the door exercise and how much calmer and quieter her dogs were when people arrived, I wanted to take things a step further. I suggested we go out for a short walk so that we could apply the progress we made inside to the walk.

It took a few moments before we were able to get he dogs leashed up as I had their guardian stop each time they started to get excited. If you take the time and pause or stop the second a dog starts to get excited, you can help them learn the only way you will move forward is when they are calm.

Once we got outside, I took Annie’s leash and demonstrated how to correct the dog when she got out of position. I handed her guardian the leash and coached her up a little as she walked Annie on her left. Once she was able to get her to walk at a heel without any corrections, I had her repeat the exercise with Danica. She did so well with her that I handed her Annie’s leash as she passed by and told her to keep walking down the street.

As it turns out, there was an auction going on at a house down the street. A small crowd had gathered on the lawn, spilling out into the street. I had their guardian walk the dogs into the street past the crowd. Annie started to lift up her head and stare so I had her give the leash a quick tug. The timing of the correction couldn’t have been better, it stopped Annie from barking before she could get started.

I had their guardian turn around and come back to try it again. This time, Annie looked up at the crowd but then looked away on her own. On the second pass, the dog’s remained silent walking in an almost perfect heel next to their guardian.

I decided to make it a little more challenging still and had her walk the dogs back up the street, but this time to stay on the sidewalk which cut right through the auction crowd in the front yard. I had their guardian choke up on the leashes a little more to keep the dogs in close, then off she went tip toeing her way through the crowd.

As she navigated her way through the crowd and furniture the dogs remained completely calm, watching and following her lead. They must have passed by a good thirty people without the dogs reacting to any of them. By walking them with a confident energy and good leash handling, this pair of barking Dachshunds adopted a completely different behavior, remaining completely calm and following their guardian’s lead.

Annie and Danica 2

Their guardian walked back through the crowd three more times with the same result. Even when the came face to face with an off leash dog in some pretty close quarters, Danica and Annie behaved perfectly.

By the time we finished the session, the dogs were much calmer and you could see from their body language that they felt pretty good about what they had achieved that day. They were already self policing themselves on the new rules and responding to commands right away.

It will take some practice at the door exercise and constant corrections when the dogs forget any of the new rules, but based on how quickly the dogs responded, the days of out of control Dachshund barking should quickly come to an end.

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