Using the Shake Can to Control Excssive Barking

by Ronald Pfierman, Owner of Aztec Dog Training

Excessive Barking can be a problem at any age. When you acquire a new dog or when pups are small they learn to use whatever works to get your attention. Once they learn to control you they will continue to repeat that behavior. Unfortunately the more annoying the behavior the more effective it is for the dog. Barking or whining is the most common, most effective from the dog's perspective and definitely one of the most annoying and most difficult to fix. The deeper part of this is that when the dog goes into this behavior pattern of barking or whining they also acquire an undesirable state of mind usually one of anxiety, stress or aggression. Stopping the barking and whining appropriately also changes the dog's state of mind back to one that is more comfortable for both you and the dog. This calm state of mind reinforces the no barking scenario.

The problem is not all these methods deal with whining and how to get the dog calm without stressing the dog out further. There are several options from a no bark collar to other methods most of which could stress a dog out and require creativeness, experience and patience as well as a deep understanding of dog behavior. For example a bark collar stops barking but not whining.

One of the most common situations which causes excessive barking or whining is crate training or separation anxiety. Learning to acclimate your dog to a crate or to simply leave him in it at appropriate times can be a challenging feat if the dog learns to manipulate or ANNOY you or your neighbors. A dog or puppy can quickly learn the habit of whining or barking when being put in his crate. The dog does this because he learns to toy with your empathy. ANY BEHAVIOR that gets the response that a dog wants from you he will repeat. So the very last thing you want to do is run to the crate every time your dog whines or barks since this will only make the problem worse. Despite the fact that yelling at the dog may seem like it is a negative response to barking or whining, in most dogs' eyes it is still giving him the attention he is seeking and is enough to reinforce his whining or barking behavior. Using a method that re-establishes a calm state of mind without punishing or screaming at the dog is the most effective way of keep him quiet.
Using a shake can gives you control over your dog's barking or whining without the use of a bark collar or any other invasive device. Once you start using the shake can he will quickly learn that whining or barking at you will not work on you anymore and whining simply leads to the mysterious sounding shake can which will in turn re-establish a calm state of mind without stressing the dog out.

Step 1 - Cover the dog's crate so he cannot tell where the can and shaking noise comes from. Also get a small radio to block all background noise YOU may make while in the home giving away your activities to the dog.

Step 2 - Get a small to medium plastic bottle and add a few coins to it and tape it up using duct tape - wrap the can in its entirety. This will keep your dog safe from injury.

Step 3 - First when he whines or barks - shake the can and at the same time use a word to tell him to quiet. Do not make it personal by showing emotion or getting angry. Use an innocuous term such as " Leave it" or "Knock it off" - You can use whatever you want but use it consistently because after a while you will be able to use either the word or the can and he will calm down.

Step 4 - If after 3 - 4 times he doesn't quiet - gently toss the can at the crate - it is best if the crate is covered when you do have to toss it at the crate. This way his brain attaches the mysterious noise with HIS BEHAVIOR AND "GOD" AS FAR AS HE'S CONCERNED and NOT YOU so it does not become personal between you and him. This creates a much more effective change in the behavior and after a short time just shaking the can or giving the command a couple of times will quiet your dog for good.

Step 5 - After a few days you should be able to shake the can or say the command from anywhere in the house and he will quiet. Also when you leave the house after a week or so he should remain quiet as soon as you cover the crate.

Fixing behavior problems is less about punishment than it is about re-establishing a calm state of mind. Picture yourself watching the football game and someone calling your name. At first you are so focused on the game that you don't even realize they are present but once they throw a piece of popcorn at you it re-attains your attention. In this example the shake can is the popcorn and you are the dog. This concept can be used in almost all problem behaviors.

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