I attended a Sharon Nelson seminar on Thursday and Friday and learned a lot about building a relationship with your dog and putting an end to undesirable behaviors. My pack has one bad habit that if I can put an end to it would make Sharon's seminar a bargain at twice the price. When my neighbors come home, the dogs charge the fence and bark. Dusty absolutely loses his mind and goes into an altered state. Belle barks mostly out of "fear." Libby loves to shoot off her mouth. Max barks because the others are barking, and sometimes I suspect he does it to get them going so he can sit back and watch the chaos he has instigated.
I had planned to go up to the fence and beat on it and myself with an empty pop bottle when Dusty loses his mine barking at the neighbors. My voice will hopefully remain upbeat and I am just going to have a fence-beating party. I warned my neighbors so they don't call the men in little white coats to come take me away. I didn't get a chance to try it yesterday, and today is football gathering day at the man cave next door, so I'll probably have to wait until Monday to try it.
Yesterday, the dogs went bonkers at the front window when someone pulled into the drive of my other neighbor's home. I grabbed my empty pop bottle and joined them at the window. It didn't have quite the effect I was hoping for--I was hoping they would all scatter. For a short time, they all barked more intensely. Then Dusty and Belle left the window. Max continued to woof in his deep voice, and Libby began to howl. (Before we moved into town, I used to lead the dogs in howl fests. They used to really carry on when the Bears scored a TD. I don't do that anymore because my neighbors might think I'm crazy.) Anyway, I was less than impressed with the results of my first effort to stop the barking. Poor Ed, my husband, was outside getting the mail. The guy who pulled into my neighbor's drive gave him a quizzical look, and all Ed could do was shrug his shoulders and say, "Beats me."
This morning I was checking my e-mails when my neighbor pulled in. Only Dusty and Belle were outside at the time. When the barking started, I got up as fast as I could and grabbed my trusty empty pop bottle. I think they may have stopped barking before I even got to the patio door, and as soon as I opened it, they come trotting to me. AWESOME!!!! They have come away from the fence before, but not without being called.
I'll be sure to post again if this turns out to be a success.
P.S. August 23, 2012. Yeah, well. The dogs will still charge the fence when the neighbors come home. On the other hand, if I realize my neighbors are pulling into their driveway before Dusty and Libby lose it, I can often keep them from launching into full scale hysteria with a simple "leave it" or "come."
P.P.S. April 10, 2013. There has been a considerable improvement in the dogs' behavior at the fence. (It's about time!) I instituted a zero tolerance policy last fall and tried to stick with it. Dusty is so much improved, he's like a different dog. Unfortunately, Libby still enjoys barking way too much, but being consistently crated for doing so has helped. I try to say "quiet" just once. If the dog doesn't comply, then it's off for some alone time in a crate. The most important points of my current campaign are using only one command, remaining neutral when I go get the dog to crate him/her, and of course, never allowing the barking to go without consequences.