Walks again – Cockerpoo at seasidebut this time the unwanted behaviour, barking on walks, is when the dog is off lead.

Wendy is a well-loved and beautiful Cockerpoo (they sent me this picture of their dog at the seaside) and below here she is having a cuddle like a baby!

Out on walks, from the moment they hit the road, she pulling so much that she’s nearly strangling herself – but she’s not barking yet. She simply can’t wait to be let off lead.

As soon as she is released she runs ahead, barking madly. She doesn’t go far but the seemingly excited barking is relentless. With the lady in particular she is almost running backwards as she barks, looking into her eyes like she wants her to do something (a ploy that usually works at home!).

There are two areas that they have complete control over – what happens immediately before she starts barking (the lead comes off) and what happens afterwards (they keep on walking). This will take some trial and error.

Some comfortable equipment and walking more calmly to begin with before she’s let off lead would be a good start. A 30′ long line Wendy2may give her some freedom and she may, or may not, bark. If she still barks, they need to experiment with distance. My first step would be to assume that the barking is paying off in some way. What do they do that’s somehow reinforcing this? They keep on walking – following their barking dog. Now they should keep turning and walking the other way until she’s quiet. Each time she comes back in front of them they should turn back and carry on with the walk.

This is only part of the solution as it only indicates to Wendy what they don’t want – the barking on walks. She needs liberal rewarding for what they do want – quiet. The food may need to be tossed to her so as to get the timing right. Play would be good if it doesn’t trigger the barking.

The bottom line is that the barking has to stop working. At the end of the day they have a powerful tool – the lead. When the lady stops to talk to someone, Wendy barks – so why not pop the lead on straight away and reward her for being quiet? Wendy never barks when on lead. Very strange.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Wendy, which is why I don’t go into exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).