Barking, the one thing that both of my dogs do best! When I only had Dickens and he was a young pup, I taught him to bark when I gave him the ASL (American Sign Language) sign for it. It was great! He didn’t bark at anything or anyone. But along comes his adopted brother, Eddie and at 10 months old he is out of control and a barker! He now has taught Dickens the bad habit of barking at squirrels, at unseen wall thumps, at leaves falling and anything Eddie deems necessary to bark at. Even if Dickens doesn’t see it, he will race around the house, barking at some unseen foe. Every time a person walks by in front of my house, opens their door across the way or even opens a curtain, it is important enough news that I need to know about it right away! I guess it is OK, as everyone wants a dog that will scare away strangers. But when they bark at every leaf that falls and every snowflake, well THAT presents a problem.
So since it is too late to teach Eddie sign language. I now say “that’s enough”, even when I hear a hint of a growl. Sometimes I have to say it louder than I want to. But lately I have been doing what all of the training books tell you to do. I have been giving them a treat every time they respond to my “that’s enough” request, when they are quiet. So now when they bark, I casually say, “that’s enough” and immediately afterwards it is a mad,mad rush for the two of them to fight for the best sitting position in front of my chair to get the treat.
Sometimes I think Eddie will bark just so he will get the treat for being quiet afterwards. For this I am painfully aware that he is much smarter than I give him credit for.