Set wide the window. Let me drink the day – Edith Wharton
Spring has been the theme lately. And for good reason. A lot of us are seeing “new” behaviors in our dogs. In reality, the behaviors are nothing new, they are just more noticeable once there are more triggers outside.
Spring and summer is a time of year where there is more activity outside. People are outside walking and biking. Sometimes they’re with dogs and sometimes they’re with strollers and little kids. The neighborhood cats are making their presence known a little more, and like we mentioned last week, the squirrels and birds are back and ready to party. What this might mean for you, is that your dog is a little bit more interested in what’s going on outside your windows. This interest can lead to barking, which can get frustrating. So, let’s take it step by step.
Your dog is barking to warn you that there’s something that you need to pay attention to outside. He’s raising the energy of the pack. So, all you have to do is answer his question of “There’s a woman walking by, is she going to murder us?” with a simple No and move on.
When your dog starts barking, calmly place your body in between your dog and the window. Remember to stay calm. Once, you get in between your dog and the window use your body language to back him away while making a short sound. I’m a snapper, but you can make any noise that is quick. What we’re doing is linking this sound with your body language.
As you back your dog away from the window, make sure you have an endpoint in mind. Don’t back your dog all the way up the staircase and into the guest bedroom. A spot that is a few feet away is fine. Once your dog gets to that spot stay strong and calm with your body language. Your dog may keep barking, that’s okay! Barking is the last thing to go, so we’re getting your dog used to the fact that you can decide whether or not that squirrel out there is plotting to steal all of the milk bones. Stay in front of your dog until he stops barking. Once he stops, remove your negative body language. If your dog goes back to the window and starts barking, repeat the steps above.
Once your dog gets to the point that he accepts your answer and goes to lie down or chew a bone, give him some affection for being in a calm state.
In the beginning this can be tedious and frustrating. But take some deep breaths to stay calm and know that the work you’re putting in now will make your life easier later on. The goal is to eventually be able to make your noise that you’ve associated with your negative body language and have your dog listen to the command without you having to use your body language. However, if your dog does not listen to your noise, be ready to get up immediately and follow through on the command with your body.
There’s a lot more activity outside your window these days. By staying calm and answering your dog’s questions you will enjoy having the shades open and the sun pouring in. And so you will your dog, because he won’t be concerned about the neighbor’s cat plotting to cut your car’s brakes.
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH