How to Use Rules and Counterconditioning to Stop a Pack of Dogs From Barking

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 31, 2017

Pickles (left) is a two-year-old Spaniel mix who lives in the Melrose District of Los Angeles. He lives with two-year-old Schnauzer mix Cindy and a seven-year-old Mini Pin Chihuahua mix named Lucy. The guardians set up a dog behavior training appointment with me to stop dog barking, stop pulling on the leash and stop Lucy from being crabby to the other dogs; showing her teeth to them if they approach her when she is on the couch near her guardian.

The dogs were pretty excited at the door when I arrived for the session. Pickles led the charge, barking up a storm and jumping up. Once the door opened, the other two dogs followed his lead.

As soon as I offered Pickle’s a tasty dog treat, he settled down this is always a great way to stop dog barking. When dogs are over excited, barking is pretty common. By changing the energy, I was able to stop the barking. This is a trick I learned from a great dog behavior expert I know.

When I sat down with the guardians, I learned the dogs didn’t have many rules. And from how they interacted with the humans, it was clear that while they loved them, they did not respect them as authority figures; jumping up, scratching at or barking at them for attention.

I have seem many a dog trainer skip over the fact that the dogs see themselves as peers to the humans and start trying out dog training exercises. But until you change the leader follower dynamic, any dog training related to dog behavior will not produce the results you want.

To stop dog barking, I always want to make sure the dogs see themselves in the follower position. I suggested some rules and structure and showed the humans how to add small additions to the things they do with the dogs every day. By adding a small tweak to how they pet them, talk to them, walk with them, feed them, etc, the guardians can do things that the dogs will see and respect as leader qualities.

Next I showed the humans how to use counterconditioning to stop the dogs from thinking that sounds outside the home were things to bark at. By providing a high value meat treat before a knock or sound outside the door, I was able to get Pickles and Cindy to stop barking in less than two minutes.

The guardians will need pro practice this counterconditioning exercise a few times a day for a week or two to build up a positive association with the sounds that the dogs react to. But based on how quickly the pair responded, Im guessing it shouldn’t take long before people knocking on the door or passing by stop producing barks from this pack of dogs.

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