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How to Stop Barking

Stop BarkingWe all love our dogs, but some of them really love to bark a lot and that can get annoying for you and your neighbors (if they live close to you).  Ideally, if you have a puppy, you can nip this in the bud with some puppy training. However, perhaps you adopted an older dog or your dog’s barking never seemed to get under control. Regardless, here are a few tips to try out:

Don’t Yell at Your Dog

If you yell, it’s likely your dog thinks you’re barking back at him and that could be a fun game. So remember to stay calm.

Desensitize Your Dog from the Stimulus

Does your dog always bark at the same person, situation or object? If so, you’ll have to desensitize them from the stimulus. Golden rule is for you to remain calm during the training. If you have the advantage of knowing when the stimulus will be present (or creating the situation yourself), this can be helpful.

Stop BarkingStart with having the stimulus far away. If your dog is not barking, give your dog a treat. Gradually move the stimulus closer to your dog. As long as your dog is not barking, you can give your dog a treat. When they eventually start to bark, use your body and your calm-assertive energy to create an invisible wall between your dog and the stimulus. If needed, stand between your dog and the stimulus. Wait for your dog to calm down and remain quiet. Then you can give your dog a treat again. You’ll have to practice this over and over again to teach your dog – so be patient.

If you can’t control the environment when your dog is going to notice the stimulus, an alternative is to use something like the Dog Dazer II Ultrasonic Dog Deterrent which emits an ultrasonic discomforting sound, which is not harmful, but deters the dog from barking. The high frequency sound is audible to dogs, but not to humans. When your dog starts barking, just push the button on the device to send an ultrasonic sound that deters the behavior. Remember to keep treats on you so you can give your dog a treat when you come in contact with the stimulus and your dog does not bark.

Another option is to use a citronella spray like PetSafe GentleSpray Anti-Bark Collar which harmlessly works to stop excessive barking. The collar uses a microphone and a vibration sensor to pick up your dog’s bark. It then releases a burst of citronella spray in front of his snout to distract him from his barking behavior. Dogs typically don’t like the smell of lemon, so this can be quite effective. We used it with our dog when he was young and soon after the barking problem stopped. Now he rarely barks.

 

Stop BarkingDivert Your Dog’s Attention to Something Else

If your dog starts barking, try to have something you can quickly grab like a ball or favorite squeaky toy to distract your dog from what ever stimulus they are barking at.

Keep Your Dog Tired

It’s possible your dog just has too much pent-up energy. Make sure your dog is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise every day. A tired dog is less likely to bark from boredom or frustration.

Canine Good Citizen

CGC - caninegoodcitizenby Kate Naito
Kate is a dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY

Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

If you have a friendly, well-mannered dog, preparing for and taking the Canine Good Citizen test is a fun way to show the world what you’ve always known: that your dog is fantastic! It also has practical benefits, such as preparing your dog for other obedience or competitive endeavors.

What Is it?

CGC is a ten-step test that evaluates a dog’s manners and behavior. It is run by the American Kennel Club, but you do not need to have a purebred or AKC-registered dog to participate. The 15-minute (or so) test simulates everyday social situations; if your dog handles all these situations politely and calmly, then you’ve got yourself a CGC-certified dog! Although some basic obedience is necessary to pass, CGC is not a strict obedience test, making it accessible to regular pet dogs.

What Is Tested?

The CGC test has ten components, all of which your dog must pass:
1. Accepting a friendly stranger
2. Sitting politely for petting from a stranger
3. Appearance and accepting grooming
 from a stranger
4. Loose leash walk along a course
5. Walking through a small crowd
6. Sit, down, and stay on command
7. Come when called
8. Reaction to another dog on a walk
9. Reaction to distractions like a loud noise or moving skateboard
10. Three minutes of supervised separation from owner
Canine Good Citizen

Is My Dog a Good Candidate?

Dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds are eligible. Note that all able-bodied dogs are held to the same standards, so a Chihuahua that jumps on a stranger would be disqualified, just as a Newfoundland would.

Your dog doesn’t need to be perfect, but rather consistently calm and under control, to pass. If your pup is sociable and has basic manners already in place, then you will likely just need to do some additional training to hone his skills. Even if you don’t pass the test, you are encouraged to take it again after doing a little more training.

How Can I (we) Prepare?

Canine Good CitizenI find the best way to prepare is to take a group CGC Prep class, which is usually 4-6 sessions, culminating in the test. When I teach this course at Doggie Academy, we start with a diagnostic (mock) test, so each owner learns her dog’s strengths and weaknesses, and the remaining weeks focus on overcoming each dog’s particular challenges. For most dogs, leash walking around distractions (like another dog), and sitting politely to be pet and groomed by a stranger are the most challenging. Fortunately, simple training techniques can help. For example, when the friendly stranger in the CGC test approaches to touch the dog’s paw (#3), the owners can tell the stranger, “My dog knows ‘shake.’ Would you ask for his paw?” If the dog is giving his paw, he can’t be jumping or squirming!

What’s Next?

After passing CGC, your dog might be eligible to participate in other programs. (Note that CGC alone is not enough to be considered a therapy dog.) There are Advanced (CGCA) and Urban (CGCU) CGC titles, requiring a higher level of doggie manners. Competitive obedience and other performance events are other options.

For more information, visit the AKC.

How to Read Dog Body Language

Dog Body Language

We went to a great seminar, How to Read Dog Body Language, given by renowned dog trainer Colleen Safford of New York Walk & Train. It was held at the Tribeca Soho Animal Hospital (part of Downtown Veterinary Medical Hospitals.It was an absolutely amazing seminar and I can highly recommend going to it if you get the chance (or perhaps contact New York Walk & Train). Here are a few highlights:

  • Dogs use “calming signals” to convey harmless intentions. They also use these as self calming techniques.
  • Dogs work diligently to avoid conflict. As a human, it’s important to watch their various body language signals. Often humans don’t interpret them correctly.
  • Calming Signals include:
    • Lip licking
    • Yawn
    • Head turn (yep, your dog is not ignoring you but rather using a calming signal)
    • Scratch at collar or neck
    • Shaking it off
    • Soft blink
  • Aroused Dog Signals include:
    • Ears up, forward
    • Hard stare
    • Tail up, stiff wag
    • Stiff legged, weight over front legs
    • Closed mouth
  • It’s rude human behavior to do the following to dogs:
    • Approach a dog head on
    • Bend over a dog (including to put on a leash)
    • Making direct eye contact
  • Never punish a growling dog. The dog is warning us. It is a way for dogs to communicate stress and discomfort. If you punish the growl, you risk that they might escalate next time to biting without the warning of a growl.

 

Want to learn more? Check out our post on How to Properly Greet a Dog!

Indoor Dog Potty – when it’s inconvenient to “go” outside

indoor dog potty

Snarf-“When it’s raining, I hide my poo in the house. Not sorry”

While most dogs prefer to do their “business” outside, when it’s really cold or wet out some dogs just don’t want to go out (like Snarf). An indoor dog potty can be super convenient if you don’t have a backyard, live in a high rise building or can relieve some stress when you can’t get back home in time to let your dog out. While some dog owners might use pee pads for such occasions, we consider the indoor dog potty to be much more environmentally friendly.

UGODOG Indoor Dog Potty

UGODOG Indoor Dog Potty

When looking for an indoor dog potty, you need to consider whether your dog prefers grass or not. Our dog used the UGODOG Indoor Dog Potty. We picked this because Kobi is an urban dog living in NYC and doesn’t normally pee on grass outside. Note: if you have a male dog, you might want to put a back splash on one side of the indoor potty. We put a very thin cutting board on one side (goes in the tray between the edge and the grid) as Kobi sometimes lifts his leg.

Shake Dog Potty Modko

Shake Dog Potty by Modko

For the ultra modern dog, you’ll want the Modko Shake Dog Potty. It was completely sold out for months, but supply is available again. The award-winning Shake Dog Potty is stylish, easy to clean, and portable. It’s handsome and sleek enough to leave out, so that your dog has the freedom to use it when the need is urgent. Its patent-pending design enables you to effortlessly seal the unit tight for mess-free cleanup, and it’s so simple to fold that you won’t think twice about taking it on the road or stowing it away when you don’t need it. Shake Dog Potty is treated with Ultra-Fresh antimicrobial protection, making it safe, hygienic, stain and odor resistant.

FRESH PATCH Disposable Dog Potty with REAL Grass

Fresh Patch with REAL Grass

Some dogs just can’t “go” without grass. For those dogs you have the two options of real or faux grass. For those discerning dogs that need fresh grass, check out Fresh Patch – a REAL grass, fully disposable dog potty. The box combines specially grown, dirt-free grass with a leak-resistant, throwaway container. Fresh Patch is clean, absorbent, and eco-friendly.

PetZoom Pet Park

PetZoom Pet Park

There are a number of faux grass indoor dog potties to choose from. For example, the PetZoom Pet Park is made of a synthetic grass material that looks and feels real. It’s also weather proof so you can keep it inside or outside. Easy to clean – just wash in warm soapy water. How it Works: When your dog “goes”, the urine passes through the faux grass mat and through the holes in the grid tray to the bottom of the removable waste tray. The pegs on the surface of the grid tray elevate the grass mat, keeping it away from the urine.

An indoor dog potty is definitely not error free either, but we figure it’s a trade off we’re willing to live with when needed. The two biggest downsides are that you need to clean it and sometimes our dog’s aim is not great and he misses the dog potty.

Shake Dog Potty by Modko

Shake Dog Potty by Modko

Cleaning a dog potty isn’t fun (which is why we would love to try out the Shake Dog Potty). You also need to be careful about what you use to clean it. If you use something like white vinegar or bleach to clean the dog potty, the smell will turn off your dog and he will not want to use it again…resulting in him doing his business right next to the potty rather than on it. To clean our indoor dog potty, we’ve used Efferdent Power Clean Crystals. It gets the tray really clean (no need to do a lot of scrubbing) and it doesn’t leave a smell that turns off our dog.