Our question this week was:Dr. Debra - I am fostering two little puppy mill papillons. One, who constantly cried when he first came is now barking when he gets nervous. I don't know exactly what to do to stop him from doing this without traumatizing him further. He is beginning to trust me and I certainly don't want to break that trust. What suggestion could you offer for this problem? He is approx. 2 years old and weighs 3 pounds. Thank you.
Hi – thanks for your email. Excessive barking can be a very frustrating problem in some dogs. There is no easy and prefect solution. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a wonderful behaviorist who has written many behavioral articles on our site suggests using positive reinforcement when the barking ceases.
To deal with this problem, he recommends recreating the problem that causes the barking and reward your dog when he stops barking.
For example if your dog barks when a stranger approaches then, consider the following sequence as part of your training session. Organize that event, that is, have a stranger ring the doorbell. Your dog barks. Owner says, "Good dog, thank you." Some barking is okay. It is the excessive barking that is a problem.
Dog continues to bark. Owner says "Enough!"
Dog continues to bark. Owner remains motionless. Stranger waits.
Dog eventually stops. (They all do, eventually). Owner says, "Good boy!" and the dog is given a delicious food treat as a reward for stopping barking.
Stranger rings the bell again. This sequence is repeated until the dog is responding more quickly.
The training session should always finish on a good note with the dog being rewarded for quiet behavior. The stranger then withdraws. This exercise should be repeated daily for several days until the dog stops barking quickly (less than 3 seconds) on command and remains quiet as the visitor enters the home.
An article that might be helpful to you is Barking in Dogs.
Best of luck!
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