Barking: Is Your Barking Dog Creating Your Own Reality TV Program?

A recent client called about their dog’s nuisance barking at dogs and other animals on television.

A favorite channel in their home was animal planet and that was at the top of the list for Charlie, their hound dog/retriever mix, Charlie has an unmistakable hound dog howl-bark that has greatly increased his owner’s anxiety and stress levels – not to mention making it nearly impossible to watch favorite programs like Victoria Stillwell’s “It’s Me or The Dog.”

Did I mention that she has a wall mounted 53” flat screen TV with surround sound (big woofer speaker included) all designed to bring life-like/sound-like quality right into your living room? This provided some pretty stiff competition for good old Charlie!

If you’ve experienced the same frustration and have now decided to produce your own reality TV program or “doggie intervention,” what’s a compatible solution for this nerve-grating problem that works for both you and your dog?

Simply create a new association and doggie response with the television program for your dog. Here’s how to do this:

  • Get a bowl of high value, pea-sized food treats for your dog. Know also that his next meal will be shorted by the caloric intake of these food treats.
  • Put your dog on a leash to control the training environment.
  • Turn the television on with your normal volume of listening.
  • The second he sees the dog or animal begin to feed him the treats in rapid succession requiring him to look at your face because the treat is in between your face and his.
  • Try to treat before he starts to bark. If you miss it, don’t worry.
  • If he is way too distracted, then do one or both of the following things: Lower the volume or move farther away from the television.
  • Occasionally allow him to look back at the television and repeat the above steps.
  • Relax and wait for the next opportunity to repeat the steps above.

Your goal is to have your dog look at you instead of barking every time a dog comes into view. The last step is to wean him off food treats to a point that you are just occasionally treating him to keep the association strong.

Be as comfortable with trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children. And remember, “Opportunity Barks!”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

3 replies
  1. leila_admin
    leila_admin says:

    The leash gives you control of your dog. If you are using the leash for training. His response, although cute, is him controlling the relationship. A simple, No Off, then
    ignoring the barking for the walk will give you back control. It’s a process

  2. Tanya
    Tanya says:

    Once my dog see’s his leash he thinks were going 4 our walk. So he has then forgot about the tv and is now barking because he is excited 4 a walk. Will this work at all without a leash? I don’t want to just start giving him treats when he barks because I don’t want to reward negative behavior. I do need help though, if he didn’t bart he would be a perfect dog.

  3. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:


    What I see with Roxy watching TV and barking is the following:

    Observation: Roxy practically has her nose on the computer screen as she is barking.

    Comment: You would do better backing her away from the stimulus. One of the protocols/rules of desensitization is to
    know your dog’s “threshold distance.” That is, get her at a distance where you can have her perform a more appropriate
    behavior like a quiet sit or down.

    Observation: Roxy is not only nose-to-screen but she is not on a leash.

    Comment: Your desensitization exercise would go much better if you controlled your dog on a leash in the house as you
    performed the exercises at a controllable, successful distance.

    Final comment: If your dog is trained to do sits and downs, then require your dog to do quiet sits and downs at an
    appropriate, successful distance.

    If your dog will not perform sits and downs for you because of her excited state
    caused by the dog on YouTube, then you are either too close or Roxy won’t perform commands that close to distractions.

    I believe that if you reward your dog for doing a quiet sit, even though she is excited or alert, you have begun to
    accomplish your goal. However, if your dog won’t listen to you or take food treats because she is too focused on the
    YouTube dog, then more work needs to be done with Roxy.

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