As Turtle has gotten older, she has begun to bark out the front window. She let’s me know about all the bunnies, flies, leaves, people, squirrels, dogs, dust particles and everything else she deems a threat. It’s very stressful for dogs who can engage with their environment like this because they are trying to do their ‘job’. Alerting and chasing danger away (dogs walking by, the mail person, squirrels, etc) can be very self-reinforcing, especially for an anxious or bored dog. They learn that their barking makes dogs and the mail person go away, and that increases the likelihood the behavior will continue.
I know many of my clients struggle with this same issue, so here is what I recommend to start ‘managing’ the environment. Management is key to successful behavior training, because it allows you to train the appropriate behavior while your dog isn’t practicing the bad behavior. So, I ordered window film from Lowe’s, and it took me about 10 minutes to put on the bottom of the windows and the bottom of the front door. I want the light to come in above the window film, and I also want to be able to see out myself. I could keep the curtains closed all the time, but then I wouldn’t be able to see anything. In that same hour, Turtle stopped barking at people and dogs on the street. It was MAGIC! We are both less stressed, and Paisley isn’t feeding off her anymore, as well.