Train Your Dog by Turning Your Back and Ignoring Him
As Sir Pooch gets older, he has developed the irritating habit of barking at people who come to see me. It’s not his guard-dog-bark, it’s his pay-attention-to-me bark. I discovered that by admonishing him, or by guests acquiescing to his demands for attention, we were only reinforcing this unpleasant behavior which then became more and more insistent.
When Should You Turn Your Back On Your Dog for the Purpose of Training?
Answer: Whenever you are trying to discourage the dog’s behavior as a reaction to people, or to you. Obviously it won’t help to turn your back on your dog when you’re trying to teach him to sit or fetch or do something you want him to do. But how about when your dog pees on the carpet because she’s so excited to see you? And how about when your dog barks insistently until you throw his ball or find his toy?
Train Your Dog Not to Bark by Turning Your Back
Sometimes your dog barks to warn you of danger. Sometimes he barks to tell dangerous animal enemies to keep away from his territory. But sometimes he just barks until somebody pays attention to him. This is the kind of barking you do not want to reinforce with either positive or negative attention. To prove to your dog that insistent barking does not get him what he wants, you will have to totally ignore him. To prove to your dog that you and not he are the Alpha “dog” you cannot do his bidding.
Next, Train Your Guests Not to Reward Your Dog When He Barks or Jumps
You may find it’s more difficult to train your guests than to train your dog. When they come to your front door, and your dog goes berserk with joy, your guests must be trained not to reward his behavior — if he is expressing that joy in a loud and annoying manner, or by jumping up on people or sniffing them. Even though he is only saying “I love you! Get in the house and play with me!” Or “I’m so glad to see you I’m going to knock you over!” Or, “What is that I smell? Eau d’ Attention?” Regardless of the dog’s good intentions, guests must be trained to turn away and face the hall closet until doggy calms down. This will not make you feel like a gracious host. This will not be much fun for your guests either, as they will no doubt feel guilty for ignoring your dog, and bored out of their minds facing the wall. Nevertheless, it must be done. The house rule has to be no interaction until your dog is calm and civilized.
Train Your Dog Not to Pee When You Come Home by Turning Your Back
She gets so excited she pees! And all because she is so glad to see you, you marvelous being, you. The secret to stopping this emotional behavior? Be heartless. Ignore her. Turn your back on her. Don’t talk to her, pat her or even look her in the eye. Pretend she’s invisible. Check your voice mail messages, read your mail, and let your doggy calm down. It will probably take no more than ten minutes. Then you can pat and talk, and take the dog out. It may take a few days of repeating this reaction, but eventually the dog should get the message that she has to wait to get attention from you. Since that’s not very gratifying or exciting, why pee?
Skip the Frenzied Reunion; Reward the Maturity
This entire Ignore-the-Dog campaign can feel unnatural and even unkind. But this is the way we encourage our animals to become mature, responsible pets, rather than eternal puppies. Ideally, doggy will soon learn the lesson being taught, and you can pour out affection on your calm, pleasant pet.
Daily Dog Tip Tracie Hochner