Tips to Help a Malibu Dog Feel Good About New People Instead of Barking at Them

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 16, 2021

For this Malibu dog training session we worked with 12 year-old Maltese Enzo, sharing some walking and counterconditioning tips to stop him from barking at people.

Knowing that this was a dog who doesn’t always like strangers, I set him up for success by meeting him outside and leaving a trail of treats for him to find as he walked over to where I was sitting. His guardian remarked that it was unusual for him not to bark when he met me, but I equate treats to $100 bills. I’m betting if you found several hundred dollar bills on a trail to meet someone, you’d be in a pretty good mood by the time you arrived.

I think the reason that Enzo likes to bark at people is he doesn’t have a lot of rules and structure and was probably a little bit confused about what it was his guardian wanted him to do.

We went over how to use marker words to accelerate learning, the importance of rewarding desired actions and behaviors while using marker words, creating motivation for the dog to listen by asking him to sit before petting him as well as some other dog behavior tips.

Next we headed outside so that I could share some secrets to getting a dog to warm up to new people instead of barking at them. I started off with something called the engage disengage game but it didn’t really work as the dog was still barking at the wonderfully Patient person who helps the guardians with Enzo and his four Maltese roommates.

While I was running through the engage disengage game, I stumbled across a circle walking method that seemed to produce good results. After practicing this unusual way to stop the dog from barking at someone, he seemed to get the handle of it and was performing well so I pulled out my camera so that we could film it in action. If you have a little dog that likes to bark at people, you may want to check out the free positive dog training video below.

I would like to see Enzo‘s guardian arranging to do the circle walking method when Patience arrives for work each day. Spending 1 to 3 minutes practicing this trick to stop the dog from barking, in different locations each time should start to create a positive association between the dog and people.

Because Enzo‘s barking was so determined and intense I wanted to come up with another exercise to help him create a positive association with Patience. I had her grab a small hand towel and then go into the bathroom so that she could rub both side of it on her bare skin.

I took this scent laden washcloth into the other room and showed Enzo‘s guardian how he could use a scent game to create a positive association with the smell of Patience. You can learn how to introduce a dog to someone by scent or create a positive association with thier smell by watching the video below.

It will be important for the guardian to practice this exercise in different rooms of the house when Enzo is in a calm and balanced state of mind. 15 minutes following a walk would be an ideal time to do so, provided there’s nothing else going around that is scary, stressful or exciting.

Enzos guardian will need to make sure that the dog does give a good sniff before he pulls the towel away and provides a treat. A few times during practice he got treated for leaning towards it but not sniffing. I’d also like to see Patience using a washcloth at home before she leaves to go to work, putting it in a Ziploc bag that she can hand to the guardian when she arrives so that the scent is fresh each day for the exercise. Circle walk intro first, then later that day, scent games with the washcloth.

Another tip that I forgot to mention would be to have Patience take a small handful of kibble and rub it between her hands then transferring it into another bag. This is the food that should be provided for Enzo to eat which now also includes her scent.

It’s going to be a process, Enzo has spent a long time practicing barking at people or things he doesn’t like so it’s not going to be an overnight fix. But if the guardians pet him with a purpose, celebrate desired actions (petting when he sits, lays down, comes, makes eye contact voluntarily), increases exercise as well as work on the exercises that are showcased in this write up a few times a day – every day, they should start seeing gradual progress.

I mentioned to the guardians I would like to come back in 3 to 5 weeks and follow up on the progress they have made and introduce some new techniques and exercises to continue the work we started today.

To make it easy for the guardians to remember all of the dog behavior suggestions I made in this in-home Malibu dog training session, we filmed a roadmap to success summary video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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