Stopping a Couple of Dogs From Barking at Sounds

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 7, 2021

Sushi and Midnight scaled - Stopping a Couple of Dogs From Barking at Sounds

For this Westwood dog training session we worked with a pair of Shih Tzu mixes’s; Sushi and Midnight, sharing tips to stop dogs from barking at sounds they hear outside their home.

Anytime you have two dogs who are very different ages, it’s important to make sure that you are giving each dog the things that it needs. For puppies, this includes enrichment, basic training, socialization and appropriate exercise. For the adult dogs, sometimes it means time away from the puppy or management of the pup to make sure that it doesn’t fall on the older dog to do the things that the humans should be doing. Enrichment, exercise, socialization are also important, but at different levels than for a pup.

We went over how marker words can accelerate a dog’s learning, some creative ways to exercise the dogs physically and how mental stimulation plays a roll in keeping the dogs behavior where you want it to be. I also stressed the importance of rewarding desired behaviors, something I call celebrating.

One of the main dog behavior issues the guardian wanted to work on was barking at sounds the dogs hear outside of the home. When a dog barks at sounds they hear, it can be an indication of a condition we call sound sensitivity.

Midnight and Sushi’s guardian had fallen into a habit of telling the dogs to be quiet each time they started to bark. The problem with this approach is good attention and bad attention are both validating to dogs unless you are being abusive. So each time these dogs barked and their guardian gave a shush, she made it more likely for her dog to bark again.

Many of the foundational tips we covered in the session will help them feel more secure and less of a need to bark at sounds they hear. But I wanted to show the guardian the secret way dog behaviorists stop dogs from barking at sounds. I pulled out my camera and handed it to her guardians so that I could demonstrate this trick to stop dog barking. Check out the free positive dog training video below if you have a dog that barks when it hears noises.

If the guardian makes a list of all of the things the dogs like to bark at, then systematically practices desensitizing and counterconditioning them to that sound, it shouldn’t be long before the dogs no longer bark at things they hear outside. The wonderful thing about this stop barking exercise is how easy it is to do. You don’t have to be a professional Shi Tzu dog trainer to stop a dog from barking this way.

I did recommend that the guardian find some puppy socialization classes for little Sushi. Not only will this help her develop some social skills and confidence it wil give her guardian some cues that can help direct her. If the puppy class incorporates socialization and playtime, it also will drain some of that excess energy, taking the burden off of Midnight.

In the meantime, the guardian will need to pay close attention to the dogs when they are interacting with one another. Although Midnight sometimes relents and gives into the puppy’s request to play, this should not be an expectation for every play initiation by Sushi. I always like to intercede when one dog is engaging and the other one is not reciprocating.

I also made sure to point out to the guardian Sushi’s guarding behavior. The first time I spotted it was when Sushi was on her guardians lap and Midnight came near. She gave a hard stare to back Midnight away from encroaching on her perceived lap space. This doesn’t make Sushi a bad puppy, just a baby who wants what she wants. It’s her guardian’s responsibility to be on the lookout for that sort of behavior and then to arrange a situation where Midnight can approach without worrying about the puppy. I demonstrated this in the roadmap to success video at the bottom of the session by simply calling Midnight over to my other side. Sometimes dog problem fixes are easy to do when you recognize what is going on.

But if the guardian provides enough for enrichment and structured exercise, combined with close observation and timely interruptions, these two dogs should continue to grow to become even better friends than they are now.

To help the guardian remember all of the dog behavior tips we shared in this Westwood in home dog training session, we recorded roadmap to success video that you can check out below.

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This post was written by: David Codr