Dog (and Human) Training 101

Thanks to a good friend who died last year, we now own a Black Lab and a Toy Poodle. The Lab, Thor, is exhibiting behavioral issues such as, barking excessively, barking at the doorbell, charging the door when we answer it, pulling on a leash and general aggressiveness towards strangers. The aggressive behavior is the most scary. He went after a UPS guy who was walking on the sidewalk after delivering a package.

We have 2 children, with neighborhood kids coming in and out of our house, God forbid Thor bites  {shutter} one of them!

Just look at that face. Thor looks too cute to be a problem, right?

What we tried to  stop the barking (maybe you have too):

1. Yelling “No! Conclusion: never works.

2. Shock collar. I have tried this with Thor and our late Beagle, Bailey. Conclusion: didn’t work on either dog.

3. Citronella spray collar. The theory in this collar: the dog barks, the collar sprays a non-toxic citronella mist, the dog doesn’t like the taste of the spray, thus the dog stop barking. Conclusion: worked one week. I think he figured out he can bark approximately 25 times and the spray is empty…then it’s a free-for-all-bark-fest.

4. Bark Busters Trainer. Dogs are part of a pack. You are the leader of that pack, not your dog. When the dog barks excessively he is being the leader of the pack. Conclusion: if we can break our bad habits we have a chance of the elements taught by Bark Busters will work.

What I have learned:

1. Stop shouting, “stop”, “enough”, “be quiet”, “Thor!”; it doesn’t work. When our voice is on “high alert” the dog is on high alert. It’s not what we say, but how we say it.

2. Think like a dog. Dogs run in packs. We, as a family with dogs, are a pack. We (hubby & I) must be the leader of that pack, not the other way around. We must shift the balance and take the lead and then Thor will follow.

3. Be consistent. Practice the training daily and often. Like with disciplining our kids, we must be consistent. No slacking.

4. It’s hard. There is no easy fix, like a magic citronella collar, shock collar, anti-bark sound machine, it takes training. Thor is 7-years-old. This barking should have been addresses long ago, but it’s not too late for him. I am hopeful you can teach an old dog new tricks.

5. Give him a job. Labs need a job, such as searching for his food in the yard, or agility training, or long walks to exhaust him. Something other than guarding the house and barking at any and everything (i.e. squirrels, airplanes, garbage truck, people walking on the street, birds, etc.).

Dare I say, so far, so good? I’ll post updates on our progress. I have a feeling it’s going to be a long haul. I just think Thor has gone so long without discipline that it will test my patience. And anyone who knows me, knows I am short on patience.

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