When we first moved into our new home last summer, Hanani was merely 6 months young. She ran after and barked at anything that even appeared to move. If she could get a hold of whatever it was, watch out! Mia, a rather mouthy Pit Bull, was truly no help in easing her new sister’s enthusiasm. My husband was bonkers at the fact that these dogs would not stop barking at everything.
Up to now we have discussed lots about Pack Leadership, playing games, engaging your pup and all sorts of great free tips to begin to help you build that dream with your greatest companion. What most seem to miss is that everyday, in the seemingly little or mundane tasks, we can implement those tips and utilize that foundation in future, new scenarios. The great thing about ongoing dog training is that you can use your environment to build on your foundation and help your dog learn in all situations!
New Home, New People, Old Tactics
Once you have begun laying a consistent, solid foundation as pack leader (PL), you will find that your dogs respond differently to you. There will be times when your pup would normally go barreling through the kitchen and, though she starts to, she stops. In that moment you can almost see her thinking, making a decision. Granted, that great moment may pass as she decides to continue her usual behavior. But! But she stopped to think about it! She may even look at you before you give any command. THAT is awesome! That is a sign that you are getting through–you are being consistent and it is catching on.
Kudos! Do the happy dance and draw a deep breath of gratitude 🙂
In every new place, new people, new situations, you can build on that foundation. So we moved into a new home with a 6 month old Dutch Shepherd who was still getting a grip, and a 5 year old Pit Bull who technically “knows better.” The neighbors around us here are quite closer and more plentiful than where we were prior. Daily, there are good folks walking their dogs (or vice versa!) down the quaint street at all times of day and night. The teenagers right out our backyard carry on, as teens do. Children riding bikes, hollering to friends as they go. Mowers, parties, big trucks and little, yappy dogs (that never seem to quiet!) are everywhere. And let us not forget the deer, skunks, and all sorts of wild critters.
On the flip-side, the families in this little chunk of suburbia see Jamie and I move in with a mouthy Pit Bull and a Shepherd pup that goes after anything. Can you imagine? The relationship we have built with our dogs thus far set the stage to ease our new neighbors’ anxiety.
First Things First: Know thy neighbor
One of the first things I did upon moving here is post “BEWARE OF DOG” signs at the front and back of our fenced area. Literally right on the other side of our fence, children are playing to one side, and teens hanging out, playing basketball, on the other. I knew straight up, if Hanani had a bad experience with even one of them it would make everything more difficult. I, as the owner of a crazed pup in a new environment, made opportunities to talk with them. The most important thing I told them was to IGNORE the dogs. I explained that Hanani is more terrified of them than they could be of her. Also, I assured them they would never suffer my dogs out barking incessantly.
Funny note here is that the only ones that actually listened (about ignoring my dogs) were the teenagers! Yes! At least a couple times early on I’d catch Hanani barking, growling and lunging at the fence, while the teens sat on the swings–literally a few feet away. That had to be annoying, but they just went on like my mad pup did not exist. Of course, that was a different story when that same, ball crazy pup got under the fence to run after their ball! Amazing thing, though, is all of them–teens to children–simply walked quickly into the house. Mind you, they did not run. They did not try to run at Hanani. They ignored her. The older kids grabbed the younger ones and just quickly got inside.
Any catastrophe that could have been was evaded because, one, I never left an eye off my crazy pup AND my neighbors’ quick and wise action. My other two close by neighbors? An elderly man to one side tried to reach over the fence and pet this snarling, terrified pup as I explained to him how a scared pup can be dangerous! The other? One of his dogs got loose and came over to our fence. By the time I got outside, Hanani was in a frenzy, almost attacking Mia, trying to get at the new-comer. My neighbor just stood there, staring, while his dog barked at mine. This is the same neighbor that will allow both of his dogs to bark incessantly at 6:30am for an hour. Anyway….
Yeah… That was one of those times where I was not the “good neighbor” I like to be.
Point is, I not only let my neighbors know–with signs and talking with them–I followed through. When (notice, I did not say “if”) my dogs bark even just at passers-by I “hush” them once. If they continue, I bring them in.
Now the FUN Parts!
“Hush” your dog, you ask? 🙂 I mentioned somewhere a few months ago (in a post I now cannot find!) that teaching your dog to “speak” or, as I call it, “Tell Me!” can not only be fun, it comes in quite handy 🙂
- Once you get your pup to “speak” on command, get her speaking a lot. I mean get her all worked up until she is barking, singing, howling, jumping around! And lay off the treats at this point. The fun she is having with you should be enough of a treat.
- When she is “speaking” her head off, put your index finger to your mouth and say, “Sh!”
- *As soon as she stops give her a treat and praise her! She will likely stop easily just because you changed the tune, so to speak, that you two were singing.
Do this at least a few times throughout the day until she quiets pretty much every time you hush her. Practice this inside and out. You may feel like an idiot in front of your neighbors, but once your pup catches on they will thank you!
Now, anytime she is outside and begins to bark at neighbors, passers-by, just say “Sh!” The first couple weeks, certainly give treats for her positive responses, but you can (and should) wean that off. If she does not listen, bring her in. Not as punishment, but to show her that to get what she wants (being outside) she needs to listen.
Utilize Your Environment
This is just one, simple example of utilizing your environment to build on the foundation you worked so hard to achieve with your pup. Neighborhood distractions are a fabulous (and inexpensive) way to help you train your dog. Even though I am home pretty much all day, there are times I intentionally wait until the evening when my neighbors are busy outside to have a training session. Their help is such a blessing! And they don’t even know it 😉
Now go be a good neighbor! Invite new scenarios! Post a note below and let me know how it goes!!
And these will come in handy 🙂