Dear Tango,
I am a bit confused.  Sometimes when people come to the door, my Dad is like, “Who’s there? Who’s there?”, so he wants me to go bark to protect the house.  Then other times, someone is at the door and he tells me "No" or yells at me to be quiet.  I know he likes it when I do bark because sometimes he tells me to, so I assume the yelling is his way of joining me in guarding the house.  You see where I'm going with this, the more he yells, the more I bark.. which makes perfect sense if you’re me at the time!  But it seems to make him really mad.  It’s all a bit nuts.  Can you help?

Signed,       Confused Cuz Someone’s Barking Mad (and I don't think it's me!)


Dear Confused Defender,

You’re right, lots of people are barking mad on this subject; they want us to guard and protect one minute, then get pissy when we do.  Go figure.   The good news is, it is a fairly easy problem to fix. 

People, are you listening??  Cuz a little clarity on this subject would make a world of difference.  Most of you want us to bark and protect, then stop when we’re told.  To teach us this concept, don’t tell us No or Bad;  try saying, “Thankyou, you’re a good dog but I’ve got it now, so that’s Enough”.  We are pumped up, in protect mode at that point, so you will have to use calm control to show us that enough means enough; a leash can be really helpful to remind us that you are taking control of things, at least until we get the hang of it.  There is no place for anger or punishment here; we are trying to do what’s right, what our instincts tell us to do and what you encourage us to do.  Whether it is with vocal encouragement or it is just on a slight and subconscious level, most people are glad their dogs want to protect them.  Dogs pick up on that immediately.  So, correcting us for it just confuses us.  Get it?  I hope so because this is something I see all the time. 

If your dog is pushing through you on this subject and you can’t get him/her to stop protecting, even once you have worked to teach him what Enough menas, you have some leader/follower confusion and might need some help from a professional trainer or behaviourist. 
Remember, leadership doesn’t mean being aggressive or mean, it simply means earning the trust and respect of your dog so that he or she will accept your guidance in any situation.  There are lots of different methods which include positive reinforcement training that can help you accomplish that trusting, listening dynamic.  Here are some of the most popular:

Real Dogs Real People: Behaviour / Training Philosophies and Methods

Keep in mind, because trust and respect is a two way street, there is one other scenario to consider.  If your normally accommodating dog (like me), is determined to protect you from someone you believe to be ok, you might want to take a second look or at least keep one eye open.  I for one, am an excellent judge of character and because I so rarely disapprove of anyone, my Mom has learned to trust me when I do.  Just sayin'!

I hope this helps with your barking mad confusion!

Love,       Tango

Topic: Ask Tango

Posted 12 June 2013, 7:12AM

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