Maggie and Bella Learn that Silence is Golden

By: David Codr

Published Date: September 22, 2013

Bella and Maggie

Maggie is a 8 year old Beagle, pictured here on the right with her room mate, a one-year-old Yorkie mix named Bella.

I was called in to help stop both dog’s over-barking and get them to listen to their owner’s better.

When I arrived, both dogs started barking before i made it to the front door. When I entered, the barking pretty much stopped.

As I sat down with their owner’s to discuss the situation, both dogs took turns jumping up on the couch. Usually when a dog doesn’t listen to or follow its owner’s commands, its due to the dog’s lack of respect for the human’s authority. Since dogs relate their position or status in the pack to the height at which they sit, I suggested that their owner’s not allow them on the couch for a month.

I showed their owner’s how to correct them whenever the jumped up on the couch. The dogs persistently jumped back up a few more times, but after each correction, the frequency of their jumping up slowed down. By literally creating a separation between the dogs and the human’s we can help the dog’s see them as their pack leaders.

Because passers by seemed to trigger the barking more than any other activity, I showed their owner’s how to claim the area in front of the door or window away from the dogs. Luckily, someone in the apartment complex was walking their dog outside the window as I was showing them how to claim that space.

Both dogs excitedly rushed the screen door barking loudly. I calmly walked in front of the sliding glass door, turned so I was between the dogs and the door, then I marched toward the dogs until they backed away from the space. As soon as I did this, the dog’s barking stopped. I stepped out the door so that I could coach one of their owner’s through the claiming exercise.

At first the dog’s ignored their owner and ran around her to jump up on and bark at the glass door. But their owner stuck with it and a moment later had the dogs several feet away from the door sitting calmly. Each time they barked, i showed their owner how to disagree with the behavior until the dogs stopped barking.

Next one of their owners went upstairs and borrowed their neighbor’s two pugs. As she stood right outside the door with these dogs, Maggie and Bella rushed the door again barking like crazy. Their owner calmly walked in-between them and the door and repeated the claiming exercise. This time Maggie and Bella responded much faster despite the fact that the dogs they were barking at were much closer than the previous incident.

To test their resolve, I opened the screen door a bit. Maggie started to move forward, but her owner disagreed with the movement immediately which stopped maggie in her tracks. I opened the door a bit further and despite the fact that the pugs were barking and the door was open, Maggie and Bella sat quietly. The pugs had their full attention, but they were able to contain themselves.

By the end of the session, the dogs were no longer trying to jump up on the couch, no longer barked when people passed by the windows or doors to the apartment and were promptly responding to their owner’s commands.

Their owner’s will need to consistently disagree with the barking and claim the doorway any time the dog’s forget their new manners, but the transformation from barking to silence in the one and a half hour session proves these dogs can learn to behave. With a little practice, the dog’s silence at passing people and dogs will become the new normal.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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