Ray used to bark at everybody (and pretty much every dog) who came remotely close to us, and it was quite disturbing. We assumed that he didn’t like them for whatever reason, but it was not until we enrolled him in a B.A.T. (Behavior Adjustment Training) program that all was revealed. The trainer set up the circumstances for the reaction and, within minutes, had an explanation and a solution.
What she had seen, and we had not, was Ray giving a slight turn of his head towards us when he saw the person/dog. She suggested that he was now in an uncomfortable situation; was simply looking to us for some direction and, in the absence of any, he would take charge (which is exactly what he was doing)!
The solution was to watch for that slight head turn, and then give him a treat! The timing was critical because treating late would simply reinforce his discomfort (and actions), and treating before the head turn would serve no purpose. Ray soon caught on to the idea that people and dogs often mean treats, which is no doubt why he has become so sociable!
Ray’s book (“Who Said I was up for Adoption?”) covers so many of the training rationales that have been used for him, and is recommended reading for anybody who has a challenging dog, or who is contemplating adopting a dog.
The above is a rather long introduction to a rather short Post! That same trainer recently approached us, as she was scheduling a course of “play” for dogs. Her interest was in teaching dog owners that play can be a very effective way of tiring out a dog mentally, which can be a huge asset in inclement weather circumstances. Ray did not know how to play when he moved in with us and, even now, thinks that it is simply a reason to get treats. (In fact his book includes the details of our humorous and rather futile attempts at teaching him “Fetch”!)
It is a one day/week x 4 weeks program and Ray is enrolled! We recently had our first session, and Ray did appear to remember the trainer, which was very nice… and she certainly remembered him (affectionately). Being the first Session, it was a combination of working with some basic concepts and, of course, giving the dogs some time to adjust to each other, but it will be interesting to see how Ray responds to this program… so stay tuned!