Thursday 23 September 2021
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Maurice, an Australian Shepherd, knows his job perfectly. It barks whenever anyone walks or gets close to the garden fence. This fits perfectly with owner Manuela Zeits. She lives in an unchartered area on the outskirts of the German city of Mors and does not want anyone to approach her home without noticing it.
But Zeitz, a dog trainer, knows that’s not the case with all dog owners. Others are upset about this.
Experts discourage using a dog as a live alarm and confining it to a crate. “Cages are no longer an option as dogs need someone to hang on to,” says Bettina Haas, a dog trainer in Fora, Bavaria.
Since many dogs are naturally alert, she says, “I would caution against reinforcing this protective behavior with training. Most dogs that are peaceful and friendly with people behave differently when a burglar approaches the house in the evening. A dog will act in a situation like this and you don’t need to train it.” “.
Being alert can result in undesirable behavior such as a dog starting to bark near a garden fence. “As a trainer, the first thing I check is why I bark,” says Haas, who notes that a dog left alone in the garden may be bored and bark because there is nothing to do. Or being left alone may not make him feel safe.
“A dog that barks a lot should be regularly rewarded for calm behavior,” Haas says. She advises dog owners not to leave a dog with “compulsive barking” alone in the garden but to communicate with them. She adds that this can help the dog learn to relax in the garden.
Zeitz recommends reinforcing a dog’s desired behavior by clicking training. The owner can sit next to the dog in the garden and press the clicker and give the dog a reward whenever anyone approaches the fence. And the reward will pique the dog’s interest more than it does at the fence.
“The dog will discover that whenever someone approaches the fence, he is getting something good from his owner. This changes his mood,” she says.