Stopping a Mini Australian Shepherd From Barking at Things Outside

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 23, 2019

For this Los Angeles dog training session, we use counterconditioning to stop 3 year-old Mini Australian Shepherd Spike from barking when people come to the door.

For this Los Angeles dog training session, we use counterconditioning to stop 3 year-old Mini Australian Shepherd Spike from barking when people come to the door.

Because Spike is sometimes reactive to people he doesn’t know, I had his guardians meet me outside so I could use some dog behaviorist tricks to make sure he had a positive association with me. After Spike found the trail of treats I left for him, we were the best of buddies so we headed inside to get to work.

Spike lives in a blended home where the guardians were all on different pages. Since dogs learn through consistency, repetition and good timing, its important that everyone is on the same page whenever you are trying to stop unwanted dog behaviors. Fortunately Spike’s guardians are committed to stopping his barking problem.

This is even more important in Spike’s case as the family is renovating his home and one of the primary targets of Spike’s barking was the construction workers he saw outside the home. One of the tips I shared was something we call maintenance; removing temptation or access to the thing they are reactive too. Adding some white paper to the bottom section of windows that face anything the dog is reactive to is a wonderful way to reduce dog barking.

But there are many things to do when stopping a dog from barking at sounds outside the home. Often human disagreement with the dog’s barking fall on deaf ears. This often happens when a dog sees itself as having the same rank as its guardians. As a dog behavior expert, I find that a lack of rules and structure in one of the primary reasons dogs act this way. But since Spike comes from a herding breed, consistently enforcing rules is much more important than other dog breeds.

I have found counterconditioning is one of the most effective ways to stop a dog from barking at things outside the home. If you do it right, the dog not only stops barking at things outside, it actually sees them as a good or positive thing. You can watch me use counterconditioning to stop a dog from barking at knocks at the door in the free dog training video below.

We started off trying to stop dog barking at the door bell but due to a little miscommunication the process actually backfired. But it was a good teaching moment. It illustrated the importance of having great timing and paying attention to the dog. The dog cant react at all when you are trying to use counterconditioning to stop a dog from barking. If the dog reacts, it means you are too close, the sound it too loud or its moving too fast.

The first stop to stopping dog barking with counterconditioning is to find a distance, volume or speed where the dog is relaxed enough to sit and take a treat. You want to get as close as you can without the dog reacting and able to take the treat and sit. Once you find this distance, you keep practicing and reducing the distance while keeping the dog from reacting until you are right next to whatever it was the dog used to react to. Since the doorbell produced such a strong response, the guardians may have to practice with the dog downstairs to get enough distance. They may even need to cover the speaker with a pillow to further lower the volume.

We closed things out by sharing some tips to help Spike practice being around the new teacup puppy the family recently adopted. Setting up a fenced in play area in the living room will help Spike practice being around the puppy while preventing the puppy from being able to bother Spike when he has items. This practice is key but something many people overlook. You want the dogs to basically “practice” being around one another enough so that it becomes normal.

To help the guardians remember all the positive dog training tips we shared to stop dog barking in this in home dog training session, we did a roadmap to success video.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Categorized in:

This post was written by: David Codr

Follow Us via Email