Dog’s Eye View: News from the barking lot |

Dog’s Eye View: News from the barking lot

Laura Tyler

We’re finally able to get outside and work in the yard or start up the grill. I love all four seasons in Colorado, although some would say they are disproportionate, with summer being the shortest of them all. Colorado can be a mishmash of weather, teasing us into complacency and giving us false hopes of planting a garden early or planning an outdoor party.

One thing we can count on every year is the barking that seems to fill the neighborhood as our dogs spend more time outdoors. What’s with that anyway? Why all the barking?

The snow banks are melting, the birds are coming back and spring is in the air. All the cooped up days with most of us tucked safely away from the cold are becoming days with the windows cracked and kids playing outside.

Life is new! And each year the sounds and smells that come with spring are new to our canine companions. If you sit outside (with or without a blanket across your lap) and just listen to the sounds coming from your neighborhood you’ll start to hear the canine voices speaking out: “I’m here,” “Let’s play,” “Are you new here?,” etc. Dogs are communicating to the neighborhood. Some of them are speaking in distress. Some are speaking a challenge to the other dogs in the neighborhood. And some are speaking out, asking, “Who are you?” “What are you doing in that yard next door?” “Do you belong there?”

Why is it that every year we have to start over in teaching the dogs that they do not have to, nor should they, bark at the person next door? It’s been months since the neighbor was out raking in the yard or setting up the grill. To the dog, it’s completely new. He needs to get a handle on why that person is outside. So there is a period of acclimation going on. Yes, reinforce quiet voice, and reassure your dog that you have things well in hand. Really the barking is letting you know that something is “out of place”.

This very thing is happening in my back yard again this year too. We’ve lived next to the same neighbors for more than 20 years, and it still takes my dogs several times seeing them to have them become a part of their outside routine.

This is one of my favorite times to practice my really happy recall exercise. A quick call to “come here” gets both dogs racing to the doggy door. Once inside, the door is closed, and a quick treat with praise is given. This gives them a few minutes inside to “cool their heels”.

Time in the back yard teaching, “go say hi” will let the dog know that person out there in the yard is a friend. Happy Spring. The daffodils are blooming, the birds are coming back and life is good.

Laura Tyler is a certified professional dog trainer with 25+ years of experience and has earned associate certification through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She owns Total Teamwork Training LLC here in Northwest Colorado.

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