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barking at cows, any trainers out there??

(4 Posts)
mamamermaid Thu 24-Mar-16 12:53:23

I really need some advice, I have 2 small dogs and we've moved house. I'm the field out the back of us there are now cows and use dogs are barking madly at the cows. It's constant unless I put the dogs in the kitchen..
How do I train them out of this?

LetThereBeCupcakes Fri 25-Mar-16 20:48:04

The best thing to do is to slowly desensitize them. Are you able to stop them seeing the cows, at least temporarily, whilst you train? You need to be able to control access so that you can ensure all encounters are positive.

You'll need to work with one dog at a time. Make sure they have a really solid command that you can use, such as sit, down, or "watch me". Arm yourself with some really high value treats, or a favourite toy, and start gradually moving towards cows. Start slowly, go as close as you can WITHOUT the dog reacting. Practice some sits, downs etc. Then move a little closer. When the dog reacts to the cows, give a simple "ah-ah" and re-command the sit (or down, or whatever). If you can't get the dog's attention book, you've probably moved to quickly. Move further away and try again. Take it really slowly - face the dog away from the cows if you need to, or sideways on so they're not completely facing them. Gradually work on getting closer and closer, you want the dog to start associating cows with good things happening (ie treats or play with a toy). It will probably take a long time (probably weeks rather than days). Whilst you're doing this you REALLY need to stop the dogs accessing the cows alone. If you let them out to bark again you'll be right back to square one.

A few key points:

1. Don't go to fast
2. Always end on a positive
3. Reward good behaviour. Ignore or interrupt undesirable behaviour.
4. If you don't feel you can make progress, speak to a professional behaviourist. Look for somebody COAPE accredited. Your vet may well be able to recommend somebody.

Good luck!

mamamermaid Sat 26-Mar-16 20:17:41

Thank you that's really helpful. I have been doing something similar using a "leave it" command which is very useful for everything! And the "good dog" immediately when they stop (in the split second). There has been some progress but if they just go nuts I've had to put them back in the kitchen to calm down sad I will persist with your advise. We've had only supervised garden access since the cows arrived.
In the last week we've also had a regression with our puppy (well she's 1!) chewing and destructive behaviour when she's been fine for ages sad

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 29-Mar-16 08:08:01

Sorry to abandon you mama, my little boy's been unwell.

The regression in your pup (and I do think 1YO is a pup!) rings alarm bells for me I'm afraid. I'm wondering if your dogs are actually afraid of the cows? The stress would explain the regression. It might just be coincidence - it might be that your pup is going through adolescence and regression is very common in teenagers.

I'd be very cautious about exposure to the cows at the moment, if I were you. Just in case. Can you keep an eye out for signs of stress? Things like panting (often with the sides of the tongue curled up, reather than relaxed), sweaty paws, restlessness etc.

Might be worth starting to source a behaviourist in your area, just in case (it can be a bugger to find one so always good to have a look!) If you can give a rough idea of where you are I might be able to recomend somebody.

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