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How to train a
dog not to bark at the neighbours’ dog
By MS du Toit
Someone once asked me the question: how can she train her Labrador
Retriever not to constantly bark at the neighbours’ dog through the
fence. Her other problem is that when she walks with her dog in the
street, he almost pulls her off her feet to get to and bark at every
dog in the neighbourhood. These are problems that many people have to
deal with with their dogs.
Let’s first address the first problem: how to get a dog to stop barking
at the neighbours’ dog through the fence. That is a common problem
because most dogs that live in a fenced area consider that area their
property and they need to protect it from anyone passing by, from dogs
to postmen. It is not uncommon for dogs, big and small, to run up and
down the fence barking at everyone. Now if the neighbours’ dog does the
same, it will be more difficult to teach your dog not to do that.
First of all there are some practical things that you can do to make
the whole process easier. These might be expensive, but it might also
increase the value of your property. If there is a see-through fence,
consider building a brick wall or vibacrete wall between your property
and that of the neighbour. He might be willing to pay half of the cost.
If the dogs do not see each other all the time, they won’t bark at each
other all the time. Also consider putting in a doggy door so your dog
have access to your house or garage all the time. I have that at my
house and I find that the dogs enjoy my company much more than the
neighbours’ dog. When I go out, they just lie in the house sleeping and
waiting for me to return.
If you have done the above, you have set up your dog for success by
reducing his exposure to the neighbours’ dog. Even if you have not done
that, you can try the following to train him not to bark at the other
dog. Get your clicker ready, get a lot of yummy treats ready and put
your dog on a lead. Walk with your dog to the fence. The moment he
starts pulling you and starts barking, turn around. You can call his
name and “Come”, you don’t have to, but the moment he turns around to
follow you and stops barking, click and give him a treat. Repeat that
many times. It will take many sessions and many repetitions, but
Retrievers are quick learners and normally they love food.
When you find you can walk with him right up to the fence without him
pulling or barking, it is time to put him on a long lead. Walk with him
in the yard. The moment he starts running to the fence, call him. If he
turns around, click and treat him when he gets to you. If not, pull him
in, let him sit in front of you, get his attention, click and treat.
Repeat these exercises every day and be consistent. When you start out
with this training, do not even call him when he is off lead and you
know the chances are that he will not respond to your call. When you
have done the training and he consistently comes to you when he is on
the long lead when you call him, you can test him when he is off lead.
When he does come to you, even with the neighbours’ dog barking, click
and give a big bonus and make a big fuss.
The same procedure can be followed when you walk in the street with
him. When he starts pulling, do not carry on in the same direction
trying to pull him back. Immediately change direction, because if you
carry on in the same direction, the dog is still winning, but if you
change direction, he will soon realise that you are in control. Then
reward him for following you in the new direction. Do not worry if you
do not even make it to the end of the block the first day. Just be
consistent and success will follow.
MS du Toit has been training dogs for ten years. Please visit her Dog
Training Review Page.
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