Barking at the helper

Do you need to stop your dog from barking at our helper every time she comes in to work? The first thing you need to look at, is your dog’s body language when your helper arrives. Do you think your dog is fearful (tail tucked under his body, ears back), or is he barking because he is excited to see your helper (jumping around and running backwards and forwards)? Then, you need to consider what you do and/or what your helper does when your dog barks.

If your dog is fearful of your helper, then you need to take it slowly. The idea is to change your dog’s perception of your helper. So, instead of being someone to be frightened of, she becomes someone who always gives treats. Start off by giving your helper treats to keep in her pocket and, when she arrives at the house, ask her to throw the treats for your dog.

If your dog barks because he is overjoyed to see her, then you need to look at what your helper does (or what you’re doing) to reinforce the barking. Lots of us ‘bark back’ in that we call the dog and make a big fuss of him; all this reinforces the barking. If this is the situation, then teach your dog to do something like a ‘sit’ when your helper arrives, and reward him a lot for sitting, instead of for barking.

If neither of these works, you would need to contact a qualified behaviourist to come and assist you.

Wendy Wilson, behaviourist

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