Can my poodle's bark be curbed?
by STEVE DALE
Q: I have an 8-year old French poodle. He listens to most commands - except for barking. If I have a visitor he barks from the time they come into the house until they leave. It is very annoying to both the visitor and myself. I put him in the other room, however, he continues barking in there and I worry he may get a heart attack doing so. How can I curb his constant barking if at all? Thank you.
A: The good news is that the excitement is unlikely to give your dog a heart attack. However, the excitable barking might give your visitors a heart attack.
While I can’t see exactly what going on in your home, based on your description your dog is likely afraid of the strangers visiting your house, even if there is an aggressive front. I suppose since you’ve apparently lived with the problem for maybe eight years, you can do it for another eight years if you know your dog isn’t going to likely have a heart attack as a result. You can do as you’ve been doing and sequester the dog into another room. Of course, your dog learns nothing, but moving your dog away keeps everyone safe.
A preferred option is to bring in an expert to assess the situation, a veterinary behaviorist (www.dacvb.org), member of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (www.avsabonline.org) or dog behavior consultant, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (www.iaabc.org).
Also, you might possibly, unknowingly, be rewarding the barking with your responses. Obviously, reacting to the barking by reprimanding (if indeed that is what you are doing) isn’t helping, and could - in fact - serve to reinforce the barking.
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