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SarahandSam
Nov. 27, 2009, 11:30 AM
We adopted our dachshund when she was around 6. She was morbidly obese, ate nothing but table scraps, had back and hip problems that made her aggressive if you picked her up or touched her back end, and wasn't particularly housebroken. We crate trained her, put her on a diet, worked her down to svelte badger-hunting dachshund shape, and taught her some manners, and lo and behold, we had the sweetest dog in the world who loves kids and old people and passed her therapy dog certification.

Except that now, she's so sweet and friendly that everyone stops to pet her. So now if we're out in public and people aren't paying attention to her, she barks. We take her to dachshund socials, and if she's ignored for too long, she barks. My parents come over to dinner and if they ignore her, she barks. It's always just one bark, a "Hey! Me!" bark. She's tried that with us, and we ignore her barking... but strangers think it's cute to have a little furry dachshund staring up at them and barking and wagging her tail, so they pet her. So she's constantly getting rewarded for this.

I want to be able to finish her therapy dog certification and take her places again for therapy work, but the barking is unacceptable for that... any tips on discouraging it? We ask my parents to ignore her, but it's difficult with strangers who just want to pet the sweet little dog, especially when she's at a meetup group or at the dog park and not necessarily right with us.

threedogpack
Nov. 27, 2009, 12:26 PM
get yourself a clicker, learn to use it and click only quiet behavior. The barking will not be rewarded and she will quit.

JoZ
Nov. 27, 2009, 02:29 PM
Could she possibly wear a vest or jacket indicating something like "service dog in training"? It seems like your question really is, how do you correct this behavior when other people are rewarding it with attention. So that's what you have to stop.

Granted the sign would be more visible if she were a St. Bernard rather than a dachshund, but there must be SOMETHING she could wear that would make people stay back from her. I know I'd never pet a dog wearing a Service Dog designation.

I'm sure she would be able to distinguish between play time (at the dog park for example, when she is free to bark like a dog!) and Work Time. When her "work clothes" go on (the vest, or jacket, or harness) that behavior has to stop. When she is wearing whatever item you choose, you will have to be vigilant and stop people from coming up to her unless she is behaving appropriately. But if it is associated with "going to work" you wouldn't have to keep up that vigilance 24/7.

SarEQ
Nov. 27, 2009, 02:40 PM
The service dog designation is a good idea... but it doesn't always work. It amazes me how many people either don't know the rules or don't think that the rules apply to them. I'd say, "Please don't pet my dog, he's training to be a guide dog," and be told not to be mean, the dog just wants to say hi, that they don't mind a dog jumping up, begging for their food, etc. I'd also have people tell me that I wasn't blind, so they could pet my dog... they would of course, never pet a blind person's dog. How is the dog supposed to learn to ignore people when people don't listen?

You just need to be strict and firm with people. It is your dog and it is best for her to learn. Tell them you're trying to teach her to be a therapy dog, and not to pet her when she barks. Give them food and let them reward her after she is quiet for a moment or when she sits or downs on command. If she barks, recall her and put her through several sits and downs and then reward her. Try to teach her that she won't get attention, instead she'll have to work when she barks.