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Lisa
Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16425
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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Is our 5yr. old female Havanese. She came to us from a

Customer Question

Bailey is our 5yr. old female Havanese. She came to us from a fabulous breeder in No.CA when she was 4 months old. We have only 2 behavioral problems with her and they are getting out of control I think. She watches tv and barks viciously jumping in the air at certain images but especially other animals. No.2 She growls at my husband when he approaches our bed. (I have hip/back problems so I lie down in bed frequently). If husband approaches my side of the bed, she growls ferociously at him. He would agree that he has teased her on this issue making it worse. For the past 2 nights, when she does this, she leaps over to his side of the bed and won't allow him to get in bed w/o a fight; growling very loudly and showing teeth. I have to intervene and tho she's protecting me, she begins to growl at me. She does not sleep in our bed and there are no problems getting her to go to her room into her bed. She doesn't want husband in the bed with me. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible...

Is she able to get up on the bed herself or do you lift her up?

What do you do when she's acting aggressively?

What do you do when she's barking at the television?

How much exercise does she get daily?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She has stairs to climb on the bed. When she's aggressive, I scold her and say "No bark"; or No growl--sometimes loudly b/c she's barking so loudly.
She has done the tv barking for several years. I know we failed to correct that when she was a pup and now it's gotten worse.
She is walked frequently and runs in our very large back yard, which she prefers over walking. This reminds me, she does not like her harness and when she sees me putting on my tennis shoes, for walking, she runs to her crate and won't come out. I've changed the harness frequently. Once we start the walk, she's fine--it's getting there that she dislikes.
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

Let's tackle each problem individually....first, the barking.....

As I'm sure you already know, yelling at the dog to be quiet won't work because dogs who are already barking, just interpret our yelling as an attempt to join the conversation (for example, if the dog is barking at the mailman, she's saying, "Hey! Owner! Come see who's outside!! Is this a friend? Is it an enemy?? What should I be doing right now?? Oh, you're barking loud too, so I should probably keep barking!!!"). Any yelling we do can accidentally encourage them to keep barking.

We're going to need to train her to act differently when she's barking.

When your girl is barking, you need to ignore her. Wait for her to be quiet, and after a few seconds of silence, start using a key-work like "hush" and then giving her a treat. Make sure you do this immediately...timing is super important, but make sure you don't give her a treat until she's been silent for a few seconds. Try thinking like your dog...would you rather keep making noise, or be quiet and get a yummy treat?

Do this training several times daily until your dog has figured out that the key word means it's time to be quiet, and that being silent brings treats, but that making noise doesn't get him anything. Over time, you're going to make the time between when she's barking and his quiet longer and longer. After a few weeks of training, you should be able to use the key word when she's actually barking and then giving her the reward when she stops.

It's important to remember to not repeat the key word over and over, since this can actually encourage her to keep barking rather than being quiet.

I also like using a back-up plan: diversion. Instead of using the 'hush' cue when she's barking, you can call her over to you and ask her to perform a desired trick like sitting or fetching a toy. Obviously, you don't want her to act like a mute if someone were to be bothering your house...it's good that she knows how to bark...but by making sure to reward her being quiet, rather than her barking, you'll end up with a better behaved dog, and less stress for you worrying about her incessant noise making.

You could also consider clicker training her to break this habit. This involves buying a 'clicker' which has a little metal plate in it. You press the plate and the thing clicks, then you give the dog a treat immediately. Soon, the dog learns that the click brings a treat and will usually drop whatever they're doing in order to come get the treat. You can see more about clicker training here:

http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm .

As for the territorial guarding of you on the bed....that one is reasonably easy to fix....since she's unable to get on the bed without the use of the steps...simply remove the steps.

In the wild, the top dogs get the absolute best of everything. They get the best spots to sleep, the highest position in the den. So by allowing her up on the bed with you, you're accidentally sending the message that she's just as high in the pack standings as you and your husband are. By not allowing her on the bed (or any furniture, for that matter), you'll be sending the message that you and your hubby are top dogs and can be anywhere you please.

I hope this helps.