LAST SUNDAY, we began a new Essential Basics class. After practicing an exercise to control excessive barking in class and at home, an astute student asked, “How much barking is too much? Is it okay for the dogs to bark at a passersby?”

WHEN IT COMES TO BARKING, the line of tolerance varies. Establish rules based on that line. Here are mine: until I ask them to be quiet, barking is acceptable when my dogs hear a knock at the door or if they see someone entering their property, but not at things that are within view but off the property. In the car, if someone is peering into my windows it is okay to bark, but not when someone enters or exits the car parked next to us nor upon seeing or hearing another dog.

NOISY DOGS ARE INEFFECTIVE WATCHDOGS, and ironically, will be oblivious to the one or two incidences in life that are truly a call for alarm. A discriminating dog is your extra set of eyes, silently investigating and never failing to alert when the situation warrants it.

SUMMARY: My expectation is that my dogs observe and evaluate attention-getting situations before alerting with a bark. If you want your dog to do the same, come to Essential Basics so you can quickly and easily teach discriminative barking.

– Amy Ammen, director of Amiable Dog Training

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