Teaching a Santa Monica Puppy to Stop Barking at People

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 30, 2021

For this Santa Monica puppy training session, we worked with Yoshi, a 1 year-old Maltese who is leash reactive and likes to bark at people passing his home.

Due to the Delta variance of coronavirus, we did this session in the courtyard outside of Yoshi‘s home. This gave me a first hand account of his barking problem. Being on a fairly busy street in terms of walking traffic, Yoshi would perk up any time he heard a dog walking by and then start barking as soon as he could see the dog through the slots in the fence.

One of the tips I shared to stop dog barking was to have the guardians put some wooden dowels or other visual blockers over the gaps in the fence. Since his courtyard of buttresses the sidewalk, Yoshi is as close to these walking dogs as possible which makes it difficult to stop the dog from barking. Blocking the dogs visual will help reduce the barking problem because the dog will not know whether or not his barks have made the person go away. This is a maintenance technique that can be really beneficial if you have a dog that likes to bark at people walking by your home.

But I also wanted to give the guardians an exercise that they can practice to help create a positive association with people on their walks. This is an important step when you are trying to stop a dog from barking. I pulled out some high-value training treats and handed the guardians my camera so that I could demonstrate an easy and effective way to stop the dog from barking at passersby.

If the guardians follow my earlier advice of blocking the dog from being able to see out of the fence, they can use this technique for the sounds that caused the dog to bark. Same principle, just working on the sound versus the visual of seeing the dog or person.

I also recommended that the guardians set Yoshi up for success. This means getting him more physical exercise or mental stimulation prior to practicing this tip to stop dog barking. This is one of the most overlooked secret to stopping dog barking. They should also avoid congregating in the courtyard during high traffic walk times. If he is going to be in the courtyard during those times, getting him some exercise ahead of time can pay big dividends.

After we shot the free positive dog training video above, we headed out so that I could show the guardians how they could use a technique that I like to call click for looks to stop him from being reactive when on leash. Because Yoshi needed some fundamentals developed first, this may be something that we need to set up a follow up session to build on.

For the next couple of weeks, I would like to see the guardians working on increasing Yoshi‘s daily mental stimulation and physical exercise, rewarding him when he voluntarily offers desired actions, use the positive and rupture to redirect his attention away from things he doesn’t like, incorporate some rules so he practices self-restraint and of course practice the exercises for dogs who bark that we demonstrated in the session.

My hope is that Yoshi’s guardians practice the stop barking exercises a few times a day while implementing all of the other small changes that will become second nature if they’re practiced often. I told them to give it a few weeks and then to reach out with a progress report if they don’t have any questions sooner. Because of his reactivity and mighty nature, this little white dog may need to follow up session to work on his leash reactivity, but only time will tell.

To help the guardians remember all of the dog behavior tips that we shared in this in-home Santa Monica dog training session, recorded a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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