First, barking is way a dog expresses things. It is very common for some dogs to bark in class. Some dogs are more expressive then others and your dog typically is doing this same behavior when in other highly stimulating environment. However, if you have a dog that likes to be expressive in that manner, here are some helpful tips to help. The more you do and practice in other arousing areas, the better and faster your dog will learn to relax and be quiet.
BARKING … it just doesn’t fit into our world at all, does it?
Focus back onto your tricks are the tricks that will be most helpful here. As soon as you get to class, do some spins and twirls in the parking lot. Teach a target trick, nose touch on your hand. For this to work, practice tricks on your walk and other locations where stimulation is high.
SIR SNIFF ALLOT
“Insnifficating walks” can improve a ton of things, but in this case it may calm your dog down prior to coming to class. Place your dog on a long-line and allow your dog to sniff some where that has low amounts of visual and audible stimulation. For example — behind Ingle’s — in a church parking lot — at a car dealership — etc.
Busy dogs typically do not bark. It is only when we come into a stimulating environment without proper timing and a job for our dogs to do. If you have a dog that gets over stimulated in a vocal way, you need to come prepared. Prepare yourself to keep the dog employed. Asking for what you want before you dog starts to bark. If you ask for behaviors your dog knows, the probability that your dog will find that more reinforcing then barking increases. Or, bring things your dog love to chew on instead. For example — a favorite rubber toy with “stuff” in it that is tasty — a bully stick — a food puzzle — etc.
Bring a “place matt” from home (something familiar in a unfamiliar environment) or use one of the crates in the room to put your dog into during lecture time and in between games and exercises. Practice this at home first, but typically the crate is a safe place and a calm place. But just to make sure, bring and place a food puzzle in the crate in between working the dog.
Pheromones released during lactation give puppies a sense of wellbeing and reassurance, known as appeasing pheromones. ‘Dog Appeasing Pheromone’ can be embedded in a plastic collar or sprayed on a bandana. Typically your vet office has it or find it on line.
You may have to be really fast. Click and reward calm behavior take a lot of observational skills. A nose that is turning from the stimulus — click and reward. You are catering all those good choices for NOT barking. Clicking calm behaviors before the dog barks will create a thinking dog. Every time a dog walks in the room, get prepared and use incredible timing to click the calm behavior. Then, you may start to say: “shhhhhh” ask the door cracks open, click and move back into your spot and reward. When you start to say words, make sure the dog has been rewarded a lot just for the behavior the word now represents.
BRING TWO PEOPLE
To be able to do everything that is mentioned above AND listen to instruction is hard. Bring another person to help listen and take notes, so you can be focused on the dog. If you want your dog’s focus, you will need to be focusing on your dog.
If you do not have another person to bring, you will need to become a good multi-tasker and keep your dog busy using the suggestions above as well as listen in class. Or, the benefit of a class are monstrous. Please work on the things that are needed in this class and continue on with the next class after you tackle getting your dog’s focus in a stimulating environment. FOCUS is key. Everything starts with focus. Repeating this class has proven to be the best thing ever for several dogs!!
People have put their dog’s back in the car. Returned to class to listen for a few minutes. Regained composure, so-to-speak. And tried it again with the upmost in timing and consistency while clicking calm behavior and asking for easy behaviors that the dog knows as they re-enter the room. Then repeated the exercise … again, and again, and again!
Outside of class, be sure to put your dog in situation where the attention is divided. Sitting on a park bench is awesome. Go to these places knowing your attention is going to be on your dog at all times. Practice techniques above and DO NOT GET FRUSTRATED.