IN the last several months, a couple of our dogs have escalated a behaviour that many people dislike – barking when someone comes to the door. Its not just the front door where visitors come in but our business entrance which is the workshop or what used to be the car garage. Over the year or so that we have had increased traffic through this entrance, the dogs have learned that people and other dogs come in that way. Not only that we installed an old cow bell from the 1940s as a door bell, which is loud when people ring it correctly. That really gets them going.
The other thing that indicates to the dogs to start barking is either me or my husband moving quickly towards the door or talking with a raised voice to each other. Sometimes we aren’t even moving quickly or talking loud at all. Tommy in particular likes to bark because he has had a rough life and not much chance to enjoy anything and he REALLY enjoys barking. He didn’t bark until he started to relax and become more confident.
So we devised a plan to change the behaviour that we know the dogs enjoy doing but is extremely hard to take, especially when everyone gets going.
When we see that someone has arrived or will soon be arriving with a dog for grooming or dog sitting, my husband immediately moves all the dogs into the kitchen. At the same time I go out into the workshop. We both walk slowly and speak calmly. The dogs get dog cookies for the behaviour of moving into the kitchen, and hubby gives them out slowly and calmly.
This slowly and calmly bit has been the defining behaviour for us a humans to change the dog’s behaviour.
Barking is still fun for the dogs and we let them do it a bit, especially when they have already started because they heard a car door slam next door or someone rings the front door bell. After they have barked a bit, we do the same routine as above, calmly and slowly giving out food. Slowly but surely, the behaviour is diminishing. This method is for us, a heck of a lot better than getting upset at them for barking and keeps us all calm.