Dog Blog Q&A: Excessive Barking
Question: I have an older dog that I am now having to crate and she is barking excessively in the crate. Any suggestions would help ?
Answer: Practice sending your dog into it’s crate and having it stay there with the door open for just a few seconds before calling it out.
Heel around in a circle and then repeat sending the dog into it’s crate again. Each time quietly praise it for waiting for you to call it out again.
Repeat this many times (6). Each time have your dog wait just a little longer. Remember to praise quietly, maybe with a food treat, for patiently waiting.
Now drop the leash and go sit down. If your dog leaves the crate before being asked, pick up the leash, then say no and direct the dog back into the crate. Praise again with food and then drop the leash and go sit down.
While waiting or working on stay, do not look at the dog. No eye contact.
Try to return and praise again before your dog has a chance leave the crate. You want to catch it being successful and praise it for the progress. Try reading or working at your desk or watching TV.
When you are no longer willing to give your dog this undivided attention simply close the door and go about your business. The crate needs to be close at hand. At least in the same room. It will only frustrate your dog further if you exile it in another room like the laundry room or the garage.
This method focuses on positively reinforcing staying, and being quiet in the crate. The very best way to apply a negative reinforcement to the manipulative barking is to catch your dog by surprise. Imagine the sensation of tripping when walking backwards. That is the reaction you want from your dog when you say no. It’s the best correction there is. You want your dog to gasp and look at you with its heart pounding. At that moment you should quietly smile and say “Good Dog No Barking”. Then look away and pretend to focus on something else.
Now, to get such a reaction you will need to startle the dog some how. Try sharply striking the top of the crate. Pop the top of your desk, or stomp your foot on the floor. At the very instant you create the loud startling noise you should say “NO!” Again when your dog stops the manipulative behavior and refocuses on you, you should quietly say ” Good Dog NO Barking ” and then look away and go about your business.
Sometimes a shaker can and will get through better than any thing else. Start by tossing the shaker can at the crate. The instant it strikes the crate you should Command “NO”. This works like ventriloquism. You are taking the word “No” to your dog on the can. Soon you will only need to vigorously shake the can and say “NO”. After a while all you will need to do is ask if any one has seen your can.
Don’t forget to praise quietly for progress. If every few minutes you return and praise for calm quiet behavior you will begin to develop a calm and quiet dog. The very last thing you want to do is give up and let the dog out of the crate because it is driving your nuts. This will only teach the dog to continue to drive you nuts until it gets what it wants.