Dear Alecia, I have a 3-year-old Cocker Spaniel. When the door bell is rung, she charges to the door and starts barking relentlessly to the point we have to shut her in another room to open the door. This does not stop the barking but just prevents her from seeing the people at the door. When we have visitors, she will bark at them and won’t stop for about half an hour unless she gets some attention. She then starts barking again when they leave. She also jumps up at the door and growls when the post is being put through the letterbox. Any suggestions? – Chris
I understand the situation completely as I have worked with three Cocker Spaniels who exhibited the same behavior.
Out of control barking is generally a result of a dog that is stressed or confused about who is the leader as they become uncertain if should be protective or afraid.
In my professional observation, Cocker Spaniels are often very sweet dogs that have a good disposition but generally prefer the human to be the leader as they tend to be a bit on the nervous side. This behavior is generally the result of broken boundaries in training in which the humans allow certain behavior corrections to slide coupled with a breed that is not often the most secure in themselves.
The way I worked with this issue is that we went back to basics. Even though your dog may know sit, down , stay and come, I find that going back to simple basic commands and reviewing them while extending the time spent in a sit or down stay improves patience, calm, and clarity for the dog and human. I suggest taking 3-5 minutes about 5-10 x a day and within that time pick one command and practice it with your dog. When your dog gets the stay command, you will need to gradually increase the time to increase your dog’s patience and ability to hold the stay. I suggest practicing daily for at least a week as a refresher and to reinforce your standing as the leader. Always praise your dog for their effort, be consistent, calm and clear.
Another area we focus on is walking. Believe it or not taking your dog for a walk and having your dog walk in sync with you will be one of the most valuable and simple ways in which to assist your dog in releasing the stress over who is the leader. By teaching your dog to walk in sync with you, you will be establishing your authentic leadership and allowing your dog to learn to harness their own energy. This is crucial to assist your dog in the situation of excessive barking.
To teach your dog clear boundaries to calm excessive barking I highly recommend the Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System. (www.walkinsync.com). The harness and leash assist in providing your dog with clear, consistent boundaries and the harness actually assists in calming your dogs barking through providing those consistent boundaries as your dog learns to relax into your leadership.
How much exercise does your dog receive? Walks really make a difference and time to play with their peers is also essential for a calm dog that can rebound more easily and refocus more quickly from excessive barking.
One thing I would also suggest is having your dog on leash to answer the door. Here you will practice sit- stays so that you can correct your dog when necessary and continue to re-direct their behavior from barking to sitting and staying.
I look forward to your update!
Paws Up! Alecia
Do you have a holistic training question for Alecia? Send it in on our online form! Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes. Don’t miss our interview with Alecia on DOG TRAVEL EXPERTS on the Radio Pet Lady Network!
The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine, DogTipper.com, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.