Teaching Ted to Stop Barking and Respect His Owners

By: David Codr

Published Date: October 11, 2013

Ted copy

Ted is a one-year-old Bischon Shi Tzu mix. His owners called me in because Ted only listened or responded to commands when he felt like it while barking or nipping at people when he didn’t get his way.

When I arrived, his owner picked him up before opening the front door. While he wasn’t barking, he was very curious as to who I was, showing some stiffness in his body language and light aggression in his movements when she put him back down.

I quickly saw that Ted didn’t really have any rules or boundaries he was expected to follow. He rubbed up on, scratched at or jumped in his owner’s lap whenever he wanted attention. As many dog owners do with small breeds, she would pet him anytime he did any of these things.

While I like to give dogs affection, I never pet a dog who “demands it.” Doing so tells the dog that the proper way to ask for a pet is to do these things. It also can lead to the dog seeing itself in a leadership position as it is basically giving its owner an order to pet him.

I suggested that from now on, his owners only pet Ted after he does something for them such as sitting, laying down, etc. By requiring the dog to do something before getting affection or a reward, we can condition the animal to look at us as a leader and see itself int he follower position.

Next I demonstrated a leadership exercise I show to most of my clients. It teaches the dog to see its humans as being in a leadership position and helps the dog learn to focus and develop self restraint. While the record is two and a half hours, most dogs pick things up in about ten minutes.

Not Ted. He protested his little tail off; barking at me, circling the room, probing to see if i was paying attention – basically doing the dog version of a tempter tantrum. I stayed at it and had to incorporate a few new techniques to stop his protest barking. After about 20 minutes, I got him to somewhat surrender to the exercise. As soon as he did, I generously praised him then repeated the exercise a few times.

Now that I knew he understood what I wanted from him, I coached his owners through the exercise. One of them incorporated some of the most unusual body movements I have ever seen. Ted must have felt the same way as he wasn’t responding or respecting her authority at first. But after some practice, she got it and got the response from Ted that we were looking for.

Basically Ted had gotten all funked up by not having any clear rules added to his daily life. This gave him the impression that he was in a leadership position which is why he barked incessantly and did not respect his owners when they attempted to correct him.

Now that his owners have added some rules and structure to his life and know how to communicate with him, Ted sees and identifies with the follower position. By practicing the leadership exercises and correcting him whenever he breaks the rules, Ted’s new behavioral transformation will become permeant.

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