Helping a Pair of Santa Monica Dogs Stop Barking at Men

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 3, 2018

For this Santa Monica dog training session we worked with a pair of dogs who bark at men they don’t know; Goldie (Left) a 10 month-old Corgi and her roomie Luna, a 2 year-old Spaniel mix.

The dogs have different guardians, but they all live together in Santa Monica.

While each dog had its own unique personality and behavior problems, one issue the guardians both wanted help with was their dog’s reactive behavior around new people and even some people they know when in different situations.

If you have a dog that barks at other people, it can be embarrassing as well as frustrating. Especially when the dogs are so well behaved at home without visitors present.

As a dog behaviorist I have fond that when most dogs act aggressively they aren’t actually aggressive. Often they are disagreeing with something because a lack of rules and structure led them to believe they are peers with or need to protect or be possessive of their guardians. Other dogs act aggressively in an attempt to get the other person or dog to move away as they don’t want them so close. They learn that acting aggressive often moves the other person or animal away = success.

I suspect the dog’s reactivity in these situations are a combination of both. That said, a lack of early socialization around children could also be a factor for Goldie’s aggressive behavior around children.

To help both dogs stop barking and acting aggressively to people at work and who come to visit, I headed outside to demonstrate a technique the guardians can use to stop dogs from barking at people.

As one of the few dog behavior experts in Los Angeles, I knew how to adopt softer, non-confrontational body language which minimized the dog’s barking. But guests and co workers arent going to have the same LA dog behaviorist skillset I do. Following the positive dog training tips in the above video should help the dogs feel more comfortable and develop a more positive association with strangers.

But until the guardians flip the leader follower dynamic, the protest and demand barking will continue. This is why I spent so much time stressing the importance of rules, structure as well as rewarding the dogs for desired actions and behaviors.

One of the rules is to keep the dogs off the furniture as the higher a dog sits, the more authority or rank it has around its pack. This will be more important for Goldie than Luna as herding breeds are bred to lead and will push things to test authority. Additionally Goldie is still in a puppy stage. This tends to confuse people into thinking their dog is well behaved in general when its actually due to the developmental stage. Herding dogs who grow up without proper rules and structure make up half of the 1% of dogs who need to see me more than once.

Whenever taking away the furniture, I find its best to provide a dog bed as an alternative. This video shows a super easy way to help any dog like to go to the dog bed on command.

Keeping the dogs off the furniture for 30 days or as longs the barking problem is going on is key. Same thing with petting the dog without a reason or even worse, when the dog demands it. These are small things that many people do to confuse their dogs into thinking they don’t have to listen to them. Many people think of this as being mean or so small it doesn’t matter, those perceptions have led to many repeat clients for me, lol. Fortunately the dog’s guardians seemed on board with enforcement of rules and structure to help stop the barking.

But the more the guardians ask the dogs to stay out of the kitchen when food is being prepared, at least 7 feet away from anyone eating food, sitting to ask for permission to go out a door and walking with the handler down the steps instead of racing ahead will help both dogs have more respect and confidence in their guardian’s leadership.

Its going to take a few weeks of the guardians acting like leaders in the dog’s eyes for their due to start to think of themselves as being in the follower position. Once that is the case, the barking should decrease and when it does happen, the humans know how to help the dogs feel less confronted if that is the reason for the barking.

I also showed the guardians a focus exercise which is a great way to redirect a dog’s attention using positive reinforcement. This positive dog training exercise works well if you establish the behavior in easy situations first, then progressively ask for a longer focus on under more difficult scenarios.

To help the guardians remember all the dog behavior tips I shared in this at home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video. You can get a ton of free dog behavior secrets by watching the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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