|At the end of our last obedience class, my Border Collie was once again one of the barkers and the instructor swooped upon her, grabbed her muzzle in her hand and screamed at her to stop barking. My dog started shaking but she stopped barking. The instructor said the muzzle-grabbing technique was what I should use at home when she barks. I usually just tell her very firmly to "lie down and shut up". It works for me. Is grabbing her muzzle a good idea?|
One of my mantras I repeat over and over to people is "Do not bark at your dog!" It's natural to yell "SHUT UP!!!" at a barking dog. Problem is.... the dog only hears it as barking. As you are barking, the dog continues to bark along with you. A quiet "hush" is the best thing to say, if anything. A low growl also does wonders.
I think grabbing the muzzle is an excellent thing to do. It befuddles me that more people don't figure this out. It communicates your idea very clearly and efficiently. I just wouldn't accompany it with a yell. If your dog is shaking, you (or your instructor in this case) are doing something terribly wrong. Dogs should behave out of respect, not out of fear. Bring a shock collar to use on your instructor for the next class :^)
Another great way to keep your dog from barking is actually to teach the dog to bark. Barking on command may seem counterproductive but in reality it helps curtail the behavior. Once the dog learns how to "Speak" or "Bark" on command, then you can use the command to your advantage and let the dog bark a time or two, then use the command "No Speak" or "No Bark". It won't work if they don't know what the original command is, so you have to start there. For dogs that bark continually when a stranger comes to the door or when they hear something outside, this comes in very handy. What you don't want is a completely silent dog - one that won't bark. What you really want is one that will bark several times and then quiet down when you tell him. The "Speak"/"No Speak" dual commands will allow you to utilize this behavior to your benefit. If they're already barking a lot, teaching them to bark on command is really very easy. Just wait until the dog starts to bark, give your command over and over, and then praise like crazy. They soon get the point and pick up on the command. Then when you have a dog that barks on command, you can work on one that stops on command.