Training a Dachshund to See His Guardian as an Authority Figure to Stop Dog Barking

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 14, 2016

Winston - Daschund

Winston is about an eight-year-old Dachshund who is fearful and reactive to people and dogs he does not know, charges the door when guests arrive and barks at them non stop. His guardian wanted me to stop dog barking and eliminate his fearful reaction to guests.

When I arrived for the session, Winston let me know he disagreed with my arrival with a barrage of barking. I could tell that he wasn’t aggressive by his tail level and placement so I pulled out some high value treats to try to create a positive association.

Usually I try to get a dog to settle down on his own, but when I originally spoke with his guardian I learned that he had a habit of barking non stop. When you have a dog that acts that way, its hard to simply ignore it so I spent the next few minutes explaining how his guardian can use the leash to help the dog settle down and practice being close to visitors to the home.

This technique blocks the dog from engaging in its flight response. The more that a dog moves around when in an excited state, the more aroused they get. So by limiting his movement, I was able to stop his dog barking.

Now that Winston was more subdued, I was able to discuss things with his guardian. In the course of the discussion I learned that he didnt have any rules and little structure. This can cause a dog to get the idea that they have the same authority as their humans.

When a dog considers you his equal, then listening to your commands and corrections becomes optional. It can also add stress to the dog. This often manifests as the dog thinking it has to protect the human and im pretty sure that was the case here.

To change the leader follower dynamic, I spent the next few minutes going over a reward strategy I developed called Petting with a Purpose.

By incorporating rules and structure and correcting Winston immediately when he breaks the rules (or before he does if possible), he will start to see and identify his guardian as being the authority figure. This will lessen his stress level and also make it possible for her to take over certain tasks that will help the dog respect her even more.

Security for the pack is usually handled by the senior ranking dog. So I knew that if I could show his guardian how to take over the door answering duties, it would go a long way in terms of mitigating Winston’s dog barking and territorial displays at the door.

Winston’s guardian was taken aback by how quickly the technique stopped his dog barking. Winston is no dummy. His guardian simply hadn’t communicated what she wanted in a way he understood and respected.

I suggested that his guardian ask her mother, friends and other guests to visit in the next week or two to help her practice answering the door this way. Eliminating the pressure of a real guest will help the guardian focus on her timing and technique.

Most dogs adjust to this new door answering ritual in a few days and judging by how well Winston responded as I coached his guardian through it, Im guessing he will get on board right away.

By the end of the session, Winston was calm, respectful and responding to the new communication cues from any human who gave them. When his guardian told me no one else was able to pick him up and pet him the way I was at the end of the session, I knew this appointment was a real success.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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