Editors Note: A guest contribution from Alex to The Prepper Journal. There is an upside of having a dog alert you and a downside. While we all know the upside of the alert there may be times when you want all, including the dog, to remain silent and Alex provides some insight on how to achieve that with a dog in the house. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies!
It is comforting to have a dog in your home. You are assured that incidences will not catch you off guard but instead, your faithful companion will alert you. Even so, there are moments when you and your neighbors sincerely wish that the dog would stop barking to notify you of these events, like in a SHTF scenario where you are bugging-in. So, can you successfully train it accordingly? What are the practical steps to take in the training process? Well, this article offers you all the details.
Training a dog to alert without barking involves the following:
Buying the best retractable dog leash
It is daunting to do any form of dog training without having a sense of control. The pet is bound to wander and play because it does not consider the process as vital. As such, you must invest in the best leash with several considerations in mind. First, the leash must fit your dog’s size and weight. It must be comfortable enough to not irritate the dog in normal use, not too loose or too tight, but firm enough to restrain the pet during training.
Second, the leash must be durable. Always go with brands that are designed to offer you value for money, it is a one time purchase and dogs become accustom to their collar, it becomes a part of them. Third, you should consider the length of the leash. For training purposes, a lengthy leash is better than a short one. Fourth, the leash must have an ergonomic handle, for your comfort and ease of repeated use and it should be useful in all weather conditions.
Use of Treats
Dogs love treats, they are after all, walking, barking stomachs with legs and a wet nose. Use treats as rewards for the behavior you are trying to train. The treats to use could range from animal bones, to a through petting/massage reinforced by a standard verbal command like “good girl” or boy (dogs are still binary, I think.) The treats should be ones the dog likes, small and only given when they obey a command, and not the same ones your kids may use in the course of their daily play with the animal. Whatever option you choose, it is critical that you go for a treat that a dog will appreciate. This means that you must have spent enough time with the pet to know its likes and dislikes.
Notably, the use of treats involves four (4) major steps. First, you should create an environment where a dog will bark. For instance, you request someone to open the gate or ring the bell. The dog will naturally want to alert you of the event.
Second, you should acknowledge the barking by checking the source of the noise. A tug on the collar, combined with a hand signal visible to the dog. Show them the treat but do not give it to them until the barking stops. Repeat the tugs until the dog responds. Patience is the key here, this is breaking a natural behavior. Make sure to keep all the tugs firm but not so firm that they injure the dog in any way. And do not give up the treat until the barking stops and do not drop the hand signal until the barking stops. You will be surprised at how quickly some of the smarter breeds (poodles, retrievers, water dogs) learn and how frustrating it is to realize that some of the smaller breeds (the toys, small terriers and miniatures) seem to be in a different universe. Again patience and only give the dog the treat and drop the hand signal when the barking stops. This is work, it can become tedious, but the results will amaze you. No exposed treat, no collar tug, no hand signal and the dog will alert when you want. Add the three controls and it will silence. Of course the key here is getting the dogs attention BEFORE its natural instincts kick in. A properly trained dog will look to you first as opposed to bark when it is alerted.
Remember bird hunting dogs are trained to point, signal and flush on command with no bark, while small game dogs use the bark to chase, corner and tree some prey.
Perseverance in training is the key, you must keep repeating the processes for the dog to learn that it is possible to get your attention without necessarily barking. Also, varying the amount of time it takes to get the treat is critical. Use of the gestures will also notify the pet on what to do in specific situations. You ability to recognize the alert from the silent dog is something you will have to learn 😉
Be Calm yet Firm
Shouting and yelling will naturally alarm your dog. In fact, it may think that you are trying to join in the attention-seeking behavior. It is, therefore, important to be calm while giving cues in training.
You must realize that you act as a role model and leader during training, you are after all, its alpha dog. Once the pet realizes that you wish to remain calm, it will follow suit. At the same time, the pet must understand that the training is a serious event. Being firm while giving cues is worthwhile in this regard.
Familiarize the Dog with Different Sounds
A dog that does not visit different places in your environment will keep alerting you unnecessarily. If you only take the pet to quiet places or environments that resemble your home, it will unlikely fit in the natural world. It will be apprehensive when in traffic or in an elevator. Therefore, you should take the pet to different places and train it to remain calm, to not react to normal noise. It will take its cues from you and how you react and how you react to its behaviors. Here the hand signal can be worth every second you spent training it!
Dogs learn how to bark in response to various things from day one of their existence in the world. It will take time to train them to opt for a different path. You must be patient in your training.
Do not wait until a dog is fully grown to teach different tricks. Start the training as early as possible to achieve perfect results. Puppies are like children, sponges even when they are chewing anything and everything they can get into their mouths. They look to you again as the alpha dog, work that angle.
Know Your Pet Well
Dogs respond to issues in their environment differently. For instance, you know that a dog is excited when it is wagging the tail. It may remain inactive and in the same spot when sick. A nip or bite may indicate that the pet is afraid or tired of the training program.
Once you have identified a pet’s behavior and meaning, it will be easy to encourage them to choose certain activities as opposed to barking. This starts with acknowledging the pet and making the necessary changes in the environment.
Ensure That the Dog Is Healthy and Happy
Dogs may bark when they are hungry or sick. The slightest of noises in their environment may trigger excessive barking. You are mandated to check for medical complications and take the necessary measures. Feeding the dog and taking it for exercises regularly is also a part of avoiding unnecessary barking, of socializing.
Work With the Professionals
It may easier to get the results you seek more quickly when your veterinary and qualified trainers are involved. A veterinary will let you understand a dog and check for health complications. They will also let you know when you cross the boundaries.
On their part, qualified trainers offer you unique tricks and tips to help you through the training process. To avoid the costs of hiring them, find websites that provide the relevant information and take notes. Buying books may also be of value as this is not more complicated than training job #1 – house broken. Plus, you will have to learn what the trainer has taught and deal with the dog adjusting to your authority over the trainers.
What to Avoid
While training the pet to alert you without barking, you should avoid:
- Punishments. This approach only increases a dog’s stress level. It will not learn and instead, the barking will continue. The dog may also resist any form of training.
- Rewarding the pet for barking. Resist the temptation to give the barking dog some treats or praise even when they look sad and weary. It will take longer to train it differently.
- Giving up on the pet. Any dog, regardless of its age or breed, can be trained to behave in a certain way. You can fine tune your approach to training in case the ideal outcomes are not achieved after a while.
All in all, it is possible to train a dog to alert you without barking. Offering treats, proper leadership, consulting the professionals, calmness, and patience are among the approaches to consider in this process.
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