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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9568
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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My mini Doxie has started barking at shadows and light reflections

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My mini Doxie has started barking at shadows and light reflections on walls an ceilings,it is a very high pitched bark. I've tried treats playing fetch and ignoring her. Nothing is working. My daughter is moving in with her baby soon so we could really use some help. KMM
Hello, thank you for using this site to help you with your problem. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have been in the dog field for 25 years. It will be my pleasure to help you today. Please understand that I may send an information request so that I may gather what I need to better help you with your problem.

When did this start?

What commands does the dog know?

How often do you train the dog in obedience?

IS there a way to block off the reflections or shadows until you can put her in a completely dark place for bed?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It started several weeks ago. She spotted my watch reflecting on the ceiling. Now it is any shadow or light reflection in any room! She knows sit, down, wait, come, speak , leave it . But does not respond a100% to any of them. There is no way to block all shadows. She does sleep in her crate(door open ) at night and she is fine. She spends her day with me and my family. She will sit by you quietly but if you get up and create a shadow she will start barking at it. It rain her daily just by using commands with her.
Thank you for that information. It sounds like you need to brush up on the leave it command because she is not 100 % reliable on this and this is one of the commands I would use with her to have her stop putting her mind on the the shadow or reflection. As you know leeeave it should nean to the dog "leavve everything you have your mind on alone and focus back on me" at that juncture you should then tell here what you want her to do instead of barking at shadows. So if she has a favorite toy put a name to it and tell her to go find it. At the same time I would be teaching her the commands speak and quiet so she knows the difference. This may come in handy in the future if she barks at other things as well/. IF dogs are not taught the difference then they constantly bark.

I will direct you to a site that will show you how to teach speak and quiet to get you started but do brush up on the leave it as well as telling her what you want her to do instead. As humans we are great at telling dogs what we don't want but then fail to give them something that we do want them to do instead so this becomes confusing to dogs and thus some commands go by the wayside after a while. The meaning behind each command has to be clear.

I might also invest in some puzzle type toys for dogs and give this to her at different times of the day to see how long it will keep her mind busy because this can keep them quiet as well. I would look on amazon as they have many dog mind stimulating toys.

Training quiet and speak
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I have tried giving her a ball that contains treats... I also have been using the leave it command and try to have her focus on fetching a toy (which is her favorite game). I've also taught her Speak and quiet but when she starts barking at the shadows it is so hard to get her to refocus.
Thank you Kathy for that information. You may have to set her up to train her since the shadows will only come at a certain time of day. She is already aware of when they will appear and she knows your routine which helps her to know when she will see shadows. So at that point she is already in the throws of the situation because she is in her mind anticipating them and basically waiting for them to happen so she is getting the excitement built up before it has even happened this is why she is harder to control. It has become a learned behavior over the last several weeks and now you want her to unlearn it which is more difficult because dogs repeat behaviors that they find rewarding. For her the shadow moving away is her reward, she barks the shadow moves, it worked! Do you see? So brush up on all the commands when the shadows are not there, the slowly set her up to succeed at not barking. Create a shadow, give her the command to stop the behavior then when she listens to your command the shadow goes away. You may have to use a bright flashlight to create your own shadows.

This is called Behavior Modification Training (BAT) and I can direct you to a site to show you this as well. It will start off in small steps then gradually you will build up to longer times but always always catch her succeeding and reward that behavior with a special food if you can such as hot dog sliver or chicken sliver. Something worth her while to get and she should only get this treat during these sessions so she is more apt to listen to you.
If you are not doing clicker training this is the method I would suggest for retraining.

Once you have rated my answer I would like to schedule a free follow up with you to see how things are going or if you need more help with this problem. Should any new problems arise, you can open a new question and request me if you wish for me to help you again.

Training method BAT
Sally G. and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you
Hi Kathy,
I have set a follow up date for three weeks which is Nov. 22. This should give you time to work on the training. You don't have to reply on that day as I know it is close to the holiday, so you can reply at anytime:)

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your assistance , I will keep working with her..
You are very welcome:) I am sure there will be good news by Nov. :)

This is sent as an information request so you are not prompted to rate again. If you need my help in the future you can request me by name and ask that the question be held until I am online.
HI Kathy,
I am just checking in to see how things are going with Nellie.


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