How to manage in the meantime
You want to get to the juicy stuff - how to make my dog stop barking and lunging at dogs/people. I totally get it! We are going to get there - I promise! But there are some things we need to work through first.
I'm not going to leave you without tools, however, so here are some ways to manage in the meantime:
- Prevent your dog from exposure to triggers as much as possible. This might mean:
- avoiding the busy times of day on the main street
- advocating for your dog and speaking up before people or dogs get too close: "no thanks" or "get your dog NOW" or "he's contagious" - all perfectly acceptable responses
- putting up window film (#2) in the front window to prevent your dog from barking at passers-by all day
- using a small, compact umbrella (#4) in the elevator to block your dog's view of the door when it opens
- popping your dog behind a baby gate in the bedroom or bathroom when you're expecting visitors and give them some classical music and a stuffed frozen food toy to keep them busy
Whatever keeps them and others safe! If something is making it worse, put a stop to it and let's find a creative solution together.
Last, but not at all least, I'd like you to immediately start implementing a Bark Bonus system:
Using Pavlovian Conditioning, we are going to pair a piece of food with another dog's bark, the same way Pavlov paired a bowl of food with a bell.
A dog barks > you immediately feed your dog a treat
No contingencies at all. Just a straight up pairing. Even if your dog barks, you still feed them. Don't worry about "reinforcing behaviour" with this - this is not a concern and we'll talk about why...soon.