“It has become extremely frustrating to see that my neighbor’s dogs are training my dogs to bark!” This came from a follower on Facebook asking me what to do.
To make matters worse, he had just moved into the neighborhood and has dogs living on both sides of him. One dog on the left is quiet and never barks but on the other side, not quite the same. Backyard chaos reigns when he lets his dogs out to play.
His neighbor’s dogs immediately charge the fence with uncontrolled barking which triggers a wild and uncontrolled chain reaction of dueling dogs. He’s concerned that someone is going to start complaining sooner or later asking him to do something about training his dogs unless something is done quickly.
Assuming no help from the neighbor on this barking problem, there are things to consider and much training to do.
Things to consider
Your dog’s instinct to bark can be controlled by mechanical devices (bark collars) or training. But your dog’s instincts cannot be modified.
As I’ve said before, addressing the symptom (in this case barking) is not the solution. If you put a bark collar on your dog, you may have stopped the barking but you have not relieved your dog’s stress (the reason he’s barking in the first place.)
Not being able to bark to relieve his stress causes him to be even more stressed and he will find other ways to relieve his stress, like digging or destructive chewing.
Finding the root cause of the problem and seeking other acceptable solutions is the better route to go.
Since we know that your dogs bark to relieve stress and anxiety, what would be the root cause of the barking?
You’re right, the dogs on the other side of the fence. Your dogs are probably stressed and frustrated not being able to get to them to play.
Here’s the question: How can we use these dogs to stop our dogs from barking?
Playtime as an alternative
If the owner of the neighbor dogs were agreeable, you could introduce the dogs on neutral territory (one dog at a time) to check play compatibility. If all get along, then begin exchanging play dates in each other’s back yard.
Frequent play dates might lessen their barking if everything else with your dogs is in order: leadership, listening to obedience commands around distractions and adequate exercise “with you” to buffer and stave off stress.
Training as an option
Assuming you have established a respectful training relationship with your dogs, training could be used to control your dog’s barking. In this case the basic idea is that the barking dogs come to be your dog’s cue to come in the house.
During the training period, you should prevent them from being able to charge the fence and bark. Walks out front on leash for exercise and potty breaks would be the new routine.
Work each dog individually on a leash or long line at the back door at first. Make sure they have a reliable “on-leash” recall at a distance from the fence without barking dogs. If they are weak on the come command, practice individually with each dog somewhere else to perfect this command.
Once this is achieved, work when the neighbor dogs are out, again close to the back door and a good distance from the fence. Pair your recall (come command) within a second of hearing the barking dogs. In other words, the barking is your dog’s cue to come. Praise your dogs and give them a high value food treat.
It worked for Sammy
We used this same technique with our lab Sammy who had begun to charge the front door when the doorbell rang. So we taught Sammy that the doorbell was his cue to go to his place. Better behavior in your dog is always worth the training time.
No dog obedience training program however good it might be, will ever work unless you have the correct working relationship with your dog.
Your relationship should be based on trust and understanding. Your dogs should show respect by listening in other training situations – then finally in the back yard around barking dog distractions.
If you do not have a strong working relationship with your dogs, then that is where you start. Begin by establishing rules, expectations and setting personal boundaries for your dog to live by and respect.
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Do you deal with this situation in your house?
Remember: “Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving over 9000 clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is your must have, easy step-by-step process to helping your dog. Be the dog owner your dog needs to be a great dog. Ground Rules gets you there. Grab them now.