Does your dog have free reign of the front yard? Perhaps he is well entertained inside the yard and pays no homage to the street. Or, perhaps he has nothing better to do all day than to run to the fence and bark at whomever is passing. If your dog takes it upon himself to play guard out the front (or back), and you are not there to follow up on his routine then creating distance between him and the stimulus is probably best management tool. You cannot control those people passing by, although the scenario could still be open to a degree of association training.
Here’s the dog’s translation of sequence…
Bark, bark, bark.
Don’t you know there is an intruder nearby?
I’m doing my job out here sounding the alarm, letting you know
they are close by and warning the intruder that this is our territory.
Where the heck are ‘you’?
(No family members appearing)
Oh well, I guess it’s all up to me.
Gosh, lucky you have me to do this job.
Wow, I’m pretty good at it.
I’m very effective because people come near, I bark and
bark and they always go away.
Bark, bark, bark and so on.
When a stimulus is out of view, reactivity is dramatically reduced. This isn’t always the cheapest strategy but it’s a good one. However maybe it is sounds from the other side of a high fence which is setting your dog off.
There are a number of angles you can take to reduce this reactivity. We like Doggy Dan’s method. Dan offers great advice on this scenario and demonstrates how to follow up if your dog is playing sentry. Most dog owners do not truly want a guard dog and everything it entails. Most are just after an alarm or alert dog at most and taking some responsibility off your dog may really help him to relax. Remember that if you don’t step in and teach your dog the behavior you want, he will feel compelled to continue his role as sentry. All he understands, is that someone has to play that role of overseer and if no-one else is doing it, he will.
Following up on his routine does not involve yelling from the door for him to stop barking (he just thinks you are joining in). Dan shows his clients how to gradually relieve your dog of this duty by stepping out and towards the stimulus, thanking the dog for letting you know and then inviting it away. This is teamed with some very important (and fair) house rules. Dan puts out plenty of free dog training advice and videos but he also offers some fabulous modules for sale on his website where you can work your way through the instruction at your own pace at home.
To find out more about Doggy Dan, go to his website below…
Leah & Angela OMeara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)