Barking Dogs and Trilby Hats

Isn’t feeding a dog whilst he’s barking not rewarding him for barking?

The Jack Russell was brought to the front door, straining and choking on his lead, barking and gasping. He was clearly very upset about someone coming into his house.

Another lady in the background was shouting at the little dog.

I asked the two ladies why they felt the little dog was frantically barking at me coming in the door.

They came up with two possibilities. He felt afraid of people coming into his house or he felt protective.

So, he’s afraid or he is protective. It doesn’t really matter which or whether it’s some other emotion that is driving him to bark. Whatever the reason he’s so reactive, did they not feel that having pain in his neck or being shouted while so aroused would not make him even more afraid, protective or whatever?th

I felt one of my analogies coming on.

“If you saw a man in a black Trilby hat and someone immediately punched you, you wouldn’t like that, would you. If you saw a second man in a black Trilby hat, then a third man in a black Trilby hat, then a woman in a black Trilby and each time someone immediately punched you, don’t you think you would start to see a connection between black Trilby hats and being punched?

What would you then do? You’d try to avoid black Trilby hats if you’re sensible. You would probably prefer to make an escape. If one came too close and you felt trapped, you may feel forced to attack.”

It wasn’t difficult then for them to see that if, instead, every time they looked at someone in a black Trilby they were given a favourite chocolate or a hug, they would gradually become glad to see those black Trilby hats – particularly if the hats weren’t too close until they were sufficiently confident there would be no more punches coming their way.

After all those punches, it could take quite a long time and lots of chocolate occasions to convince them that Trilby hats were to be trusted.

I rested my case.

Here is the story of a dog I went to recently who built up trust through using food.

For more of my stories of dogs I have been to, go to my main website www.dogidog.co.uk

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About Theo Stewart

I am a dog Behaviourist (ABTC - AAB) and trainer covering Beds, Herts, Cambs and Bucks, a 'Victoria Stilwell' Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT) and a member of the IMDT. Graduate ISCP, International School for Canine Practitioners. My main site: www.dogidog.co.uk
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