By Annie McCall, All The Best Pet Care
The doorbell rings. My 12-year-old border collie, Bennie, begins barking uncontrollably, and I cannot get him to stop.
Nor have I ever been able to quiet him in 12 years.
When All The Best partnered with dog trainer Eric Sanford, I was so impressed with his work that I wondered if he could do anything to improve the behavior of my anxious, excitable boy.
Eric Sanford offers classes at All The Best’s Issaquah and Kenmore stores, but he is available for home training sessions, too, so I set one up, hoping that working in the home environment would be most efficient way to address this problem.
When Eric arrived, Bennie perfectly demonstrated his excessive barking, so that helped us get right to the issue. Eric asked a few questions and looked around the house a bit to come up with a plan.
The first trick would be to find a spot for Bennie to wait that would offer him a clear line of sight to the front door, and Eric chose the landing on the stairs for this. Eric taught me how to get Bennie to go to his new spot and sit firmly on his rear, so he would be in a settled position, not a jumping up position. Then, we worked on getting Bennie to stay there until released.
The second major step in overcoming our 12-year barking battle would be to teach him to stop barking on command. To my surprise, this process started by teaching Bennie to bark on cue, then reward him for stopping. Of course, it was very easy to teach Bennie to speak, as he is so easily led to bark. However, to my amazement, Bennie picked up the stopping part quickly as well.
Eric’s key is to use positive reinforcement, and it worked like magic on both Bennie, and my Boston Terrier who needed a bit of leash-walking work. Both dogs crowded next to him, vying to be the next to work with Eric.
One of the greatest insights I gained was that teaching new habits was doable at any age. Eric pointed out that Bennie had been learning every day, and would continue to learn all of his life. With just a few minutes a day of work to reinforce his behavior, I could have a much quieter, calmer dog and household.
If you’re interested in “Control Unleashed” dog training classes with Eric Sanford at All The Best, find more information at positive training classes.