Barking at the window and coming when called sound like two separate issues but are they?
Jack Russell Candy is a near-perfect little dog.
The lady has had her for about four months because her owner, an elderly man, moved into a home.
She is divine. In the photo I made a little noise and immediately she opened her eyes and the little tail started wagging furiously. So friendly.
Since moving in to the lady’s home the little dog has started barking at the window as people walk past and it’s getting worse as time goes by.
Sometimes the lady just ignores it, sometimes she will loudly go SHHHHH and sometimes the little dog’s barking at the window gets her cross – understandably.
To stop or reduce the barking two things should happen.
First, the environment can be managed better.
Secondly, we need to look at why the dog is barking and deal with that. Barking at the window is a symptom of something else.
All this barking at the window simply raises Candy’s stress levels.
Raised stress levels cause her to – BARK!
Barking at the window will be reduced, obviously, if Candy can’t see out.
Why does she do it?
Candy will be barking at the window because she feels that in some way passing people are a threat. GO AWAY! And they nearly always do – unless it’s the postman.
Like many dogs, she particularly hates a postman.
I ask people how they would react if their child suddenly screamed ‘there’s a man with a gun coming down the path who may shoot us all dead’!
Would we ignore the child and leave him to get on with it alone? Would we crossly tell him to be quiet?
No! We would help him out.
The lady should react in such a way that shows Candy that she has some support.
Helping Candy out will involve reassurance and calling her away. This is where reliable recall comes in.
When the lady calls her, Candy must know that abandoning her self-appointed job of guarding the house, trusting the lady to deal with it, is worth her while. If the lady calls her and gives her nothing, it will soon be like ‘crying wolf’ and she will be ignored.
Having called Candy, the lady can reward her and then decide what to do next. She may investigate or take her somewhere else. She may even have a game with her.
“Candy – Come!” should bring Candy running.
This means she can be called away from barking at the window. She can be called in straight away from the garden.
It means that eventually the lady should be able to let her off lead. She would dearly love to see her running free. A while ago she had let go of the lead accidentally and Candy was off! Eventually she came back but not sufficiently near to be grabbed before running off again.
The lady will continue to walk Candy on the long line, but will actively work on recall when out also.
Candy didn’t bark at the window at all when the lady first had her. Once it started, the barking has got worse and worse – as things do. With a different approach both dog and human will be a lot more relaxed.
From email: ‘Now that the three months is up may I thank you for the help and support which have made such a difference to the way I relate to Candy. She’s such a sweetheart that it is really lovely to understand ways of dealing with any awkward issues and to see the progress that we have both made…… I think you and your training of humans are brilliant
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Candy. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page)