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Hi! I have an 8 month old Westie and one of his lovely terrier traits is barking! He loves barking at the TV, mainly at animals and also sports. Has anyone successfully stopped their pup from doing this? What I am considering trying is putting on something like animal planet and then treating him while its on and getting him to lie down. Usually we watch TV from the couch, but of course when an animal comes on TV he gets up and runs to the TV. Should I be holding him back on the couch and then trying to treat him? or go up to him? The problem is sometimes the TV is on when i'm doing other things and he's sitting there so I am not always able to restrain him from jumping up. Any tips or ideas would be appreciated as I am sure the technique would be something I could use if he starts barking at someone at outside or something similar. Thanks!
 

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Have you looked into relax on a mat training? You grab a bath mat, teach lying on the mat with no distractions treating for calm behavior then gradually increase distractions. It becomes a safe calm place you can take anywhere.
 

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Chas - I have seen this before. Did you use this to successfully train your dog? Also - does it need to be a mat? Can he be trained to lay quietly in his bed or on the couch with us? Thanks!
 

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First of all, what's triggering it. Is it audio or video or both? TV must be confusing to a dog.

Easy way to find out, turn the volume off and sit with him on the couch. And vice versa, leave the volume up and cover the TV screen with a towel or a blanket. See if one or the other calms him down.
 

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He can be triggered either way. Some examples:

-He likes to sit and glance up at the TV (even if it is on mute) so if he does and he sees a dog or animal (even the bee from honey nut cheerios commercials) he will bark
-If he can't hear it but can see it he will still bark
-If he is lying down, not watching and there is no sound he will be fine.
-If he hears a sound but can't see it he will bark and look for it but since he can't see it he will generally whimper and then stop (this happens if he hears a sound outside).

I believe it is more the visual though, and I agree it is confusing to see something on TV that looks so close but is not real! I've seen other dogs who do this, but I want to try to get him to a point where we can have the TV on and not constantly know he is going to lunge at any given point - especially when we are not home and this happens in other homes.
 

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Chas - I have seen this before. Did you use this to successfully train your dog? Also - does it need to be a mat? Can he be trained to lay quietly in his bed or on the couch with us? Thanks!

We're in progress with Echo in terms of training, we started with the mat at her puppy class, then at home and the cafe we go to socialize. She's not always perfect but I didn't think anything would calm her down at the cafe and this works brilliantly a lot of the time (she loves strangers!). We started to generalize with a towel, then her bed and now she will take the cue most of the time when there is nothing to lay on if we forget the mat.
 

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Relax mat sounds like a good plan of attack...

Older couple a couple of houses down figured out their old huskies were triggered by audio from the TV, they would go nuts. Old couple, old dogs, don't fight it - it's cute, if I have to go over there, both are sitting on the couch with earphones on. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One question on the relax mat - I started last night at home with a towel and he did well. I didn't have the TV or any distractions on but will slowly start to introduce them. Now, I've watched some videos but I'm still unclear on what the final cue should be for settle down. I thought I would introduce the verbal cue "settle" once he starts to get the gist but is there a better cue to be using? fingers crossed this works! As it is coming into our spring/summer it would also be helpful for when we take him to restaurants! :)
 

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Settle sounds good, we use calm mat because echo picked up on those words in class before we could set up a cue. She really is training us...
 

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Interesting. We too have an 8 month old Westie but I certainly wouldn't say a trait of Westie's is barking, at least not in our experience. He does bark territorially (someone walks by front door, back yard, hears another dog bark when at home) but that is it, not a peep at any other time, even during play or for attention.

We did teach our Westie the "Quiet" command for when he gets a little too territorial and won't stop barking after hearing another dog bark. It's pretty simple to teach and may help with the TV.

You need to find something that makes him bark (You have a TV!). Make him bark and then the second he stops barking, even if for a second, give him a treat (I'm a big fan of clicker training so if you do use a clicker, click then treat, otherwise say "Good" then treat). Next time, he has to stay quiet for 3 seconds, again, click then treat. Work up gradually until he stays quiet for longer periods, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, a minute.

Once he understands that being quiet gets him a treat, introduce the word "Quiet". Now before clicking or saying "Good", say "Quiet", click then treat. He will learn to associate "Quiet" with being quiet. Again build up the time after you say quiet and he remains quiet, before giving him the treat.

All training for puppies is basically the same. Wait for them to do what you want, and reward them for it. They will understand soon that doing that thing gets a treat. Then you teach them to associate a certain word with what they are already doing, in this case, "Quiet". Do not start off by saying quiet as it means nothing to him.

Eventually, he will actually learn that the TV being on is a signal for him to be quiet. He will actually purposefully become quiet in hope of getting a treat. A lot of people teach similar things to their dog for the door bell. They teach their dog that when the bell goes, the dog has to go and lie on his mat. You are essentially doing the same, teaching him that when the TV is on, he has to be quiet.

We taught our Westie quiet early and perhaps that is part of the reason he doesn't bark at anything other than territorial guarding (I don't think anyone can stop that in a Westie!) He also does go quiet when we tell him to be quiet, although it's not as solid as we would like (he sometimes starts up again shortly after).

FYI our Westie does bark at the TV but ONLY when he see's or hears another dog, which I again suspect is territorial, never at random noises or animals etc.
 

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simplest solution: stop watching TV. ;)

Sancho does bark, but only if there a video of whining puppies, crying babies or someone (women or children) is screaming for help or showing strong discomfort in some way.
I don't watch much TV anyway so it's not that important for me that he learn to be quiet then.

perhaps having it on all the time at a very low/no volume could make it more normal for your dog, so that they learn to except it like the buzzing of the fridge?
you can also try to redirect his attention to you with a "look" command while the Tv is on or generally try to do his training with the TV on in the background so that he learns that the TV is boring in comparison to what ever you'Ve got planned for him.
work with highly valuable rewards. they've got to be able to compete with the potentially self-rewarding behaviour of barking at the TV.
a reliable "go to mat/place" command could also help.
 
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