Tips to Stop a Havanese From Barking at EVERYTHING!

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 24, 2017

By David Codr


Sophie is a six-year-old Havanese who lives in Omaha. Her guardian set up a dog behavior training session with me to teach her to stop barking.

When I arrived for the session, Sophie decided to give me a personal demonstration of her barking dog prowess as soon as I rang the doorbell.

This was more than a territorial alert. Im guessing the over barking started out that way, but when people didn’t listen, Sophie just turned up the volume. When that didn’t work, she just kept at it and has been operating that way for so long, its become a bit of a habit.

When I sat down with her guardian to discuss Sophie’s nuisance barking, I saw several interactions and behaviors that told me that Sophie saw herself as a leader of the home. Specifically, the lack of structure had convinced this cute Havanese dog that she was the director of security for the home.

To help Sophie stop her annoying barking problem, I suggested a number of rules and boundaries that should help her start to identify as being in a follower position.

A good example of this was to make furniture off limits for the near future. In a dog pack, one of the leaders is usually in charge of security so they take the highest vantage spot. Sophie did her own versions of this, sitting on the top of the back of the couch.

This put her in a higher position (literally and in a leadership perspective) than her human and allowed her to look out the wonderful windows into the back and side yard to the house. Because there is a walking path at the border to the back yard, this location was problematic for many reasons. She barked to alert people to the passers by, but because no one inside listened the dog kept it up. To a dog, this technique works. They bark when they see someone approaching and eventually they walk away. While the person was just passing by, to the dog, it was their barking that CAUSED the person to walk away.

Eliminating Sophie’s ability to access and stay in such a prestigious position will go a long ways towards helping her adopt a new, more desirable dog behavior and dramatically reduce her barking.

Next I suggested a number of other rules and ways to enforce them. It will be important that Sophie’s guardian demonstrate that she is in the leadership position through her actions. Dogs respond to what they see us do when it comes to respecting us as leaders. Consistently enforcing rules, rewarding or disagreeing within 3 seconds and structure related activities like petting with a purpose will help in this regard.

To tap into Sophie’s focus and give her guardian a way to redirect her attention, I went over a simple Focus exercise. You can check out this free positive dog training tip in the video below.

After we finished teaching a dog to Focus exercise, I had the guardian put Sophie into a kennel and simulate leaving so I could hear her barking problem when put in the kennel.

As soon as we close the door to the garage, Sophie was in full barking mode and I don’t think she stopped until we returned to the room a few minutes later.

Sophie’s guardian had been letting her out of the kennel while she was barking. Not only can this confuse a dog into thinking its the barking that caused the human to come into the room, giving a dog what it wants when its displaying unwanted behavior can confuse them into thinking that the undesirable dog behavior is what resulted in getting what it wanted.

I spent a few minutes showing the guardian how to add some structure to letting Sophie out of the kennel. Not only did this stop her barking, it resulted in a calmer, more balanced energy too.

By the end of the session, Sophie was learning to stop barking when corrected and barking less at things that used to trigger a non stop barking attack. By adding in rules and boundaries and enforcing them consistently, Sophie should give up her barking habit and start to follow her guardian’s lead and corrections.

We wrapped up the session by filming a Roadmap to Success video which you can watch below.

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