How to Train a Weiner Dog to Stop Barking

Arnie is a five-year-old Mini Dachshund who lives in downtown Santa Monica. His guardians set up a dog behavior training session with me to stop him from barking at noises outside the door.

When I arrived for the session, Arnie was chilling on the couch with one of his guardians. I was expecting to hear him start barking when I walked inside, but Arnie’s dog barking is of a more alerting kind; barking at noises outside the apartment.

While discussing Arnie’s barking problem with his guardians, I discovered that a lack of rules and structure had resulted in his thinking he needed to protect his humans and the apartment.

I recommended a number of changes that should help reduce his barking. Enforcing rules and boundaries is a great way to start demonstrating to a dog that the humans have things under control. A dog is much more likely to modify behavior when it sees that the humans are taking the leadership position. This is why solving dog problems with a dog behaviorist is more effective that using a dog trainer who focus on reacting to the barking instead of changing the culture.

While adjusting the leader follower dynamic will greatly reduce dog barking, I knew that some counterconditioning could help address the problem from a different direction.

Counterconditioning is a process where you provide the dog with a high value reward right before and during exposure to something it is reactive to. Because dogs learn through association, this helps the dog develop a positive association with the sounds it is currently barking at.

We wrapped the session up early so I suggested we take Arnie to the dog park down the street from my place in Santa Monica. Only after we arrived did I learn that this was the first time Arnie had ever been to a dog park.

A lack of socialization can certainly impact a dog’s reactive behavior; including barking. It was great seeing Arnie learn how to deal with dogs sniffing him, communicating he didnt want to be humped or deal with dogs with too much energy. But perhaps the best thing to see was Arnie’s guardians relax.

They had avoided dog parks as they were concerned Arnie may not behave well. But for a first time at a dog park, Arnie did great. Once he gets a couple visits under his belt, he will become an old pro at the park. And that repetitive socialization experience will boost his confidence. Dogs who are more confident are usually less likely to bark.

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