Erica's Blog

The Try Something New Everyday experiment

Today I trained my dogs

on February 17, 2014

Well…this is certainly a work in progress…

I have 4 precious pups…they range from 60 lbs all the way down to 5 lbs.  And guess who thinks they are in charge?  The 5 lb pup!

Of course, they are the most perfect pups in the world.  My house revolves around them and I do my best to ensure they want for nothing.

They probably don’t have as high an esteem for me…from their point of view, I torture them.  I kidnap them from their comfy beds, drive them to strange places where they either get poked or proded (the vets) or clipped and cut (the groomers), I trap them in the bathroom and subject them to water torture in the tub (ie a bath), I do horrible things like clean ears and cut toe nails…and I deny them of their fun of playing in the mudpuddles out in the rain.  I’m sure if you asked them, they’d offer to sell me….for a milkbone.

But if I could change one thing about my sweet pups…it would be their barking.  They think it’s their important job to protect the house.  They protect the house and their people from strange guests, delivery men, cats (even if they too are part of our household), wind gusts, strange noises, or from nothing at all.  While I appreciate the security, more than not, they are just on hyper-guard and I would love to offer them some peace of mind.  I would also like to have a full 5 minute phone call with no deafening barking.  It seems if one gets spooked, they all join in…and it takes me several minutes to assure them all is fine.  It’s why I just text…

I’ve looked into programs from the Dog Whisperer.  He says the owner should be the alpha dog.  Well, ok…so I did things like when one would growl at me I would stare them down…never worked…they seemed more aggravated and aggressive.  I also tried leash training and well, they would just sit down and not budge.  I felt it became a struggle of my will versus their will…and while I’m strong…their puppy eyes are stronger and I can melt faster than an ice cube in hot chocolate.

Then I came up with an idea on my own.  I would teach them “Thank you” which would signal them to be quiet.  I believe in teaching them manners.  I treated them each time they began their barking spell and I said “Thank you”.  More cases than not, they would get their treat and resume the barking.  *sigh*

So I searched on YouTube for some videos.  I totally recognize I’m the one that needs to be trained.  I watched a few.  They mostly suggested teaching them to speak and then not speak.  I’m not confident I could do that…that seems like double work…

Then I found a great series of videos by Zak George and felt instantly at ease.  He uses positive training techniques which are easy to follow…for the owners.  He began the video by defining two types of barking…nuisance barking and productive barking.  Well, clearly my bunch use productive barking…they bark a perceived threats.

To begin,  I should divert their attention back to me when they begin barking.  He suggests using a “high currency” incentive for the pups to listen to me…example deli meat as a treat.  Then use a command they already know.  The video suggests sit…yah, my bunch doesn’t know sit…their vocabulary consists of bed, food and treat…although I have been working on come and I’ say we are about 17% proficient.

So, each time they have a barking fit, I say “Come” and they are beginning to come to me (and get treated).  One of my pups cannot get “bought” so easily and the command only works when he feels like getting up (Mr. Stubborn pictured->).  I still take this as progress…Oscar

I’m super excited this is working!  And Zak George has tons other training videos on YouTube.  One of which is to teach the pups to say their prayers!  How absolutely cute!!  We’ll use that as our utmost goal!!

And I’m foreseeing I will be able to talk on the phone again! 🙂

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