Pay Attention, Son!

Jun 5, 2008 | dogs

“You might learn somethin.”

This is seriously how Leela and Shredder act around each other. I guess it’s pretty common, seeing as how it’s on the internet. They play pretty well together now, which makes me happy. Honestly, I feel really guilty about ever wanting to get rid of her. Now that she’s not in her “I’m a kitten, I’m a kitten, I’m a kitten” phase anymore, she’s actually quite sweet.

But… What is really getting to me is the barking. We bought Leela a citronella spray bark collar on Tuesday, and we’ve seen mediocre results. Sometimes she stops barking, but it doesn’t bother her enough to make her stop completely. It shortens the barking. Which really, just leads to fewer bouts of long barks and multiples the short, quick yaps. My patience is being tried.

We’re about to graduate from puppy class on Saturday, and she’s great with other commands – “Sit,” “Watch me,” “Down,” and she’s even better at not pulling when we walk her. Our command for barking is “zip it,” but when she hears it, she typically pauses for only a moment, and then continues. I guess we need to work on this with treats, trying to work harder to take “zip it” from a reprimand to a command. Something I found online from Perfect Paws says, “Each time your dog barks, after two or three woofs, praise her for sounding the alarm. Then tell her, “Stop Barking.” Simultaneously, waggle an especially tasty food treat in front of her nose.

Most dogs instantly stop barking because they can’t sniff and lick the treat while barking. During this quiet time praise her continuously – – “Good girl, stop barking, what a good quiet dog you are, good dog . . .” After 3 seconds of no barking, let her have the treat. The next time she barks, require her to stop barking for 5 seconds before she gets the treat. Each time she is told to stop barking and succeeds, she will be rewarded.

If she barks even one little wooflet (wooflet! Hahaha…) after you’ve given the command, scold her immediately. Timing is everything. As training proceeds, the required period of silence is increased gradually; at first “Stop Barking” means: No barking for the next 3 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 10 seconds and so on. Within a single training session, you can teach your dog to stop barking for up to 1 or 2 minutes. This is major progress, because whatever set off her barking in the first place is history, and she is likely to be quiet until the next disturbance.”

Clearly, we still have a lot of work to do. Can you say, intermediate level puppy classes?