Barking at Animals on Television (TV)

You’re trying to relax and watch your show, but your dog loses their cool every time there’s an animal on the screen. Barking and making a fuss, and oh boy, thank doG for the ability to rewind television! 

We can make it easy by preventing the issue in the following ways: 

  • Grab a stuffed Kong from the freezer and give it to your dog in a covered crate or in another room while you watch your show
  • Use bluetooth ear buds to watch your show (this is great if your dog is audibly triggered by the sounds of the animals vs the sight of them)
  • Use a Calming Cap to “mute” your dog’s vision of the screen while your show is on
  • Keep them busy with a food puzzle so they’re not engaged with the show
  • Watch the show on your laptop so your dog doesn’t get HD vision and sound from the 75″ flatscreen above your fireplace

When you have time/energy to train, arm yourself with the best little snacks and sit with your dog and the remote. 

  • Implement a “Bark Bonus” protocol where every bark (or animal noise) means you feed your dog a treat, no questions asked, no contingencies, no quiet requirement. 
  • Copy that exercise, but instead of the sounds being a trigger for food happening, make it more like the “Look at That” game where you mark and feed every time your dog notices an animal on TV. 
  • Have your dog on leash before you start your show and then issue a “Time-Out” for barking at the TV, where you pause the show and leave the room with your dog for 15-30 seconds and return, OR, you place your dog in another room for 15-30 seconds alone, then try again. 

I would work through these strategies in the order described above – we always want to start by training our dogs to do what we want them to do, rather than punishing them for what we don’t want to see. The Time-Out Protocol should only be used as a last resort after you’ve spent a week on Bark Bonus and/or Look at That consistently.