A week or so ago, construction started in the field across from our house. For as long as we’ve lived here, it’s been a lovely, open field where deer frolic and coyotes scream their faces off at night. Well, it was sold to a developer, so they’re putting a road through the middle and houses along that road. They started with the road, which has given us ample (AMPLE) opportunity to work on Cooper’s “alarm barking.”
This is what it looked like out my bedroom window when I woke up this morning. BEFORE 8 am. Sigh.
All day long (even on the weekend), there are workers coming and going, city utility trucks parking on the road, tons of heavy machinery running nonstop, and dump trucks. Oh, the dump trucks. Bringing loads of rock and whatever materials it takes to build a road. It’s loud. It’s really loud. And it’s all day long. Which, whatever, that’s the reality of it. I get that. But Cooper’s barking… whooo, boy. Also all day long. Also really loud.
In my attempt to look at the brightside of this situation, I’ve decided to use the commotion across the way as an ongoing training opportunity. We’ve ignored Cooper’s barking for a long time – until we can’t take it anymore and snap, “Cooper! Shut UP!” So, with this situation, we’re going to be productive!
I started training an “enough” command a long while ago, but we haven’t been consistent. At all. So I’m starting that up again. Basically, when he gets going and I say, “Copper, enough,” that’s his cue to run over to me, sit, and collect his treat. However, since we’re in the early stages, that only works if I can catch him before he completely loses himself. If I miss that moment, I’m going back to the “face-full of treats” method where I toss a whole face-full of treats in his general direction to break him out of that blacked-out barking frenzy. Once he snaps out of it, I call him to me and ask for a “sit” or “touch” or something easy to keep him calm.
Ideally, I’ll be able to phase out the “face-full” bit and rely solely on “enough.”
I was reading some articles about this yesterday, and I came across this one. It’s more about barking at the door, but it’s the same set of skills. This sentence really hit home for me:
Choose a verbal cue like “That’s enough” or “No bark”. Use a firm voice rather than a loud one. Eileen uses a simple, “Thank you, good dog.” That says to the dog, “Stand down while I check the threat level.” He then knows the two of you are working as a team and the responsibility is not all on him.
I do think that’s how he thinks of it. He is taking on that responsibility (even if it’s invented in his head). But, you know, back to that brightside, we now have about a year’s worth of distractions right in front of our house to keep working on and reinforcing these skills!
Do you have a barker? Have you tips or techniques worked for you?