|Barked: Thu Jan 6, '11 9:08am PST |
|Patricia McConnell had an interesting solution for this: Teach him to speak on command. If you do that, you prompt the behavior and connect the stopping with a pleasant thing (a treat or toy). Like any other training, it should be started with no distractions and worked up to a real situation. Also, socialization with many different people and places many help; a barking dog is an anxious or frightened dog and it's possible he sees the new people as a threat. Desensitization should dull the barking if not get rid of it completely. I do not believe he is protecting you, but probably aware that you are the Giver of Good Things and thus do not frighten or threaten him. Try giving approved treats to people entering the room and giving them. That will create a connection to new people and good things. Make it a GOOD treat, like liver or meat. I don't know any dog who would turn down a nice, smelly meaty treat.
If the behavior escalates to biting AT ANY TIME you should contact a professional trainer for behavior analysis and corrective training. Even though the dog is small, I tell people all the time the best way to look at it is to imagine that the dog is 100+ lbs. People wouldn't tolerate a St Bernard lunging at people, but they often think a 10 lb Pom doing it is adorable. Small dogs can do damage, although you seem to be already aware of this. Kudos!
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