Posted by: | October 25, 2012

Dogs are a Product of their Environment








Recently, I received a call from a client whose dogs had become ‘problem barkers.’  This was a relatively new client, but being their pet sitter, I had only visited the dogs while the family was away.  They seemed very well behaved during the time we spent together.  In fact, I had never even heard these dogs bark before.  I am their dog walker, so I know for a fact, they receive a great amount of daily exercise.  Obviously, I scheduled a visit to come over and see what was going on while I wasn’t around.  The dogs are two young pomeranians.  Which are known to be temperamental, headstrong, and can be somewhat possessive.  But we can never take dogs for granted.  Each dog is a product of its environment, and these traits are learned.  So I needed to see exactly what was going on.


When I arrived, I could hear the dogs barking wildly as I rang the doorbell.  I could already tell their mom was correct in the way she described their behavior.

After entering the home, the dogs immediately recognized me and greeted me with puppy kisses and waggly tails.  Of course they did.  I’m their pet sitter.  They know when they see me they are going to get plenty of playtime and affection.

While the client explained their ill behavior,  I began to notice other things which really explained a lot.  I heard quite a bit of yelling and screaming coming from down the hallway where the kids’ bedrooms were.  Apparently her kids were entertaining other children after school, and they were playing or yelling or something.  I asked her if this was a common occurrence, and she replied with “yes, actually every day after school.”

I then took the dogs outside to see what else might be contributing to this barking.  Outside I could hear a blaring television set on the patio.  I could also hear the parents shouting to each other from room to room.  Not fighting or arguing really, just shouting in conversation with one another.

I then realized exactly why this was happening.

The dogs are just fitting in with their environment.  The entire house was a very, very loud place to be.  The dogs are just yelling like everyone else.  People were yelling from room to room, yelling for attention, and just yelling because it’s what they are used to doing.  Therefore, the dogs were doing the exact same thing.

After discussing my theory with ‘Mom,’ we came up with a plan to help curb this behavior.  Soon after, she had the entire family on board.  The new rule was no yelling in the house.  The after school meetings moved to another house in the neighborhood, and from then on, people were to actually walk into the same room to speak to others instead of shouting through walls.  I also suggested that she begin rewarding the dogs with small treats when they are lying down, relaxed and being quiet.

It has now been two weeks, and she told me today there is no more problem barking.

See, dogs weren’t born to bark relentlessly every day.  This is something they learn to do.

Dogs are a product of their own environment.

Thanks for caring!

Tim Heise
– Certified Pet Care Specialist
Absolute Pet Care, LLC
Scottsdale, AZ


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