National Train Your Dog Month: training resolutions

January 8, 2012 at 2:40 am 5 comments

January is “National Train Your Dog Month” and off the top of my head, I have two training resolutions for the new year. Well, the first one is more of a management issue than a training one.

Problem #1: Barking at people outside my apartment
I have a bunch of new neighbors and Boogie has been barking at all of them, in addition to the regular trespassers (workmen, mailmen etc.) When I call Boogie, he comes away from the window. I usually throw a ball and his attention is diverted for a few seconds. Then he’s back there in a flash, growling, whining, and barking.

I have been telling myself that I can live with this problem … I mean, it’s annoying but it only lasts for less than a minute, he doesn’t carry on for too long .

The problem is that the barking is happening more frequently. It seems to be getting worse.  Dog behavior fact:  this noisy behavior keeps getting reinforced by the people leaving, so he will continue to do it, and it WILL get worse…

Solution #1: Cover the windows
I have just ordered free samples of “privacy film” for my living room windows. Perhaps I’ll stick these on the lower half of the glass windows and Boogie will not be able to see out of them to react. (Thank you, Rewarding Behaviors blog)  I hope my windows won’t look too unattractive… We’ll see.

Solution #2: Counter-Conditioning?  Today I heard the mailman arrive and saw that Boogie was curled up in his bed (not yet aware of the mailman).  I got down to the bed-level and gave Boogie a massage…  lots of petting, stroking, belly rubs and more belly rubs.  He rolled on his back looking all blissed-out. In the background we could both hear the clanging of mailboxes and jingling jangling of keys. I was half-expecting Boogie to spring out of bed, run to the window and go crazy. Well, he didn’t do that. He remained on the bed, relaxed, letting me rub his belly. I stopped when the mailman had moved away from my building.

I wonder –  If I gave Boogie a massage every day at the same time as the mailman’s arrival … would he learn to chill out?

Or did his calmness today have absolutely nothing to do with the mailman?

Very interesting and useful video from Emily Larlham about making sure you have the right “predictor”:

Problem #2: The place is a mess! There are toys everywhere. Every day, Boogie goes to his toy basket, pulls all the toys out of it to get the toy that he wants  and by evening, I am stepping over toys to move around the room. Of course, I pick them up, put them back, and before long, Boogie pulls them all out again. I suppose the easiest solution is for me to not let Boogie have 24/7 access to those toys and keep them out of sight until it’s play time.

OR… Could I teach Boogie to put away his toys?

So far, whenever I offer Boogie a toy to DROP into the toy basket, he does this a few times, then runs off with the toy to chew on it elsewhere. Or somehow, the training session turns into a game of Tug.  It’s as if the ultra exciting combo of clicker + food + TOY gets him way too hyped to stay focused on what we’re doing… Clearly, I need to work on the “Hold” behavior first…

Question: Would I have to do this with every single toy? Will Boogie be able to easily generalize this “cleaning up” process to his gecko, rubber monkey, 2 steaks, 3 corn cobs, 4 tennis balls, little orange ball, red cuz, half-chewed plush animal limbs, blue octopus, pizza frisbee, dumbbell, two bones and plastic chicken?

Entry filed under: Play, Training.

It’s good to be home; Meeting Miki Saito in Tokyo Pet Blogger Challenge

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tara Houser  |  January 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Excellent post. I use window valances to cover the bottom half of my windows. My dogs can’t see out therefore they do not bark. They did have to be trained that they aren’t allowed to open the curtains though, but that was fairly easy to do. I love your idea of the privacy film…no training needed. Keep us updated.

    Good luck… I’ve found barking to be the most painful problem to solve in my household.

    • 2. lili  |  January 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      thanks for commenting, Tara!
      Boogie’s barking-at-the-window routine only started last year and I should’ve done something about this earlier…
      I hope the privacy film works! I will post updates.

  • […] weeks ago, I said I was going to cover my windows with ‘privacy film’ to manage Boogie’s reac…. Well, the roll of film arrived this week and this morning I started sticking the pieces to my […]

  • 4. Elisabeth Weiss  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:03 am

    Let him pick it out of the basket first? Have you tried that?

  • 5. Elisabeth Weiss  |  January 30, 2012 at 12:05 am

    oops and start with one toy only so he does not get distracted by too many possibilities.


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