Using Counterconditioning to Stop a Border Collie from Barking in Marina del Rey

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 7, 2017

For this Marina del Rey dog training session we worked with Sky, a 2 year-old Border Collie mix who barks when people knock on the door, jumps up on people and pulls on the leash.

Although she didn’t jump up on me in the greeting, I shared a dog training trick with her guardian to train the dog to stop jumping up on people. The guardian and her room mates can help by avoiding petting Sky when she is excited, like when they first come home.

Anything your dog is doing when you pet it is what you are rewarding and amplifying. So if you come home and pet an excited dog, the next time you will have an even more excited dog. Over time, this repetitive interaction can cause a dog to get so worked up they literally can’t control themselves.

We started things out by sitting down to discuss Sky’s dog behavior problems and her daily life. I discovered that Sky dint have a lot of structure in her life which likely resulted in the dog thinking she was a peer to her guardian instead of a follower.

But when a dog sees you as a peer, then listening to you becomes optional Additionally many dogs start to think they need to protect or look out for their humans which can lead to many other dog behavior problems.

After showing the guardian how to pet with a purpose and use passive training to entice Sky to improve her behavior, we headed back into the living room so I could show the guardian how to stop dog barking at things outside the door via counterconditioning.

It took a little time and orchestration, but within a few minutes Sky had stopped barking when the room mate knocked on the door. Its going to take a week or two of practicing this exercise a few times a day (throughout the day) before Sky stops barking when people know at the door.

The guardians can also use this same counterconditioning technique to stop Sky from barking at other sights and sounds. If she goes slowly and work up the intensity of the stimulus, the guardian should be able to get Sky to stay quiet when encountering all kinds of noises the used to make her start barking.

My fingers were a little raw after filming the above exercise so I suggested Sky’s guardian practice an exercise that will help her learn to take treats more gently. We call this having a soft mouth.

We covered quite a few other dog training secrets in this session. To help the guardian remember them all,we shot a roadmap to success video where I summarized most of it. You can watch this summary by clicking on the video below.

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