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Their dog goes nuts when kids next door bounce on trampoline

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POSTED January 7, 2018 6:25 p.m.

DEAR DIDI: My husband and I have a Toy Poodle/Shih Tzu cross.  The neighbors behind us have children.  They put a trampoline against the fence and taunt our dog. All we see is bouncing heads over the fence and lots of laughing.  We don’t begrudge the children their fun but our dog goes berserk when the kids are jumping on the trampoline even if we keep her in the house. We don’t have a doggy door but he races to windows to bark nonstop in a super high pitch tone. I guess if we are honest with ourselves, he is a very barky dog to begin with but the kids on the trampoline really intensifies things. What can we do to stop him? -Considering Moving in Utah


DEAR CONSIDERING:: I can absolutely imagine how heads bobbing up and down over the fence could drive dogs crazy whether it is from pure excitement, fear or being defensive of property!  It really doesn’t matter which emotion your dog is experiencing in this situation.  His reaction needs to be controlled for your sanity and his emotional well-being.  We also, unfortunately, cannot control the children that are antagonizing the poor thing.

I hate to point out that owners of small breed canines tend to go overboard in the pampering department and ask nothing in return from their dog.  The dog learns that its humans exist to serve him and he doesn’t have to do anything they suggest if he doesn’t feel like it.  Now, I am sure there are times he is super pleasant and sits or comes when asked. It is likely because, in that moment, he has nothing better to do or he perceives a reward coming.  Rewards to a dog can be food, affection or toys.  When we really need our dogs to listen during a highly distracting event, such as kids on a trampoline, the foundation of respect just isn’t there to work with.  

So he needs a solid foundation in focus training, self-control exercises and respect based obedience drills. Unfortunately, that all takes time to instill.  So find yourself a good behaviorist that understands and uses a form of training called Marker Training. In the meantime, to immediately put a halt to the nonstop barking…keep your dog on a leash.  At all times!  This is a concept that is seriously underused by dog owners.  They think the leash is for going on walks.  Science has proven that the more intelligent breeds, such as poodles, have the reasoning capacity of a 3 year old human.  Would you allow a 3 year old to run around your house unsupervised and out of sight? Would you allow that child to run around screaming for more than five minutes?  It is of no use to chase the dog around after he has gotten excited.  He is probably faster than you and the chasing and/or yelling only fuels the fire. 

Put your dog on a 6-8 foot nylon leash that is thin and lightweight. Keep the dog with you at all times.  It can become annoying to hold onto the leash all of the time, so tie it to your belt loop, belt or waist.  You can also tie it around the leg of a piece of furniture in the room where you will be hanging out.  He gets 6 feet of space to play with a toy, take a nap, hang with his human, but no room to run around barking or getting worked up about the mail man, people in their backyards, etc.  When the kids are jumping on the trampoline you and your leashed poodle can walk to an area of the house where the kids are out of sight.  No yelling, no frustration, no barking, no chasing the dog around. Humans want huge houses, big cars, and lots of land.  Many dogs actually experience stress when they are given too much space.  They calm down and feel much better when we limit their territory.  

In my experience, again mostly with small dog owners, people are resistant to the idea of “tying the dog up”. Obviously, do not leave him tied up without direct supervision. Crate training can also be a huge help for when you aren’t home. If he is in his own personal “bedroom” he can’t be reacting to things outside. Remember that practice makes perfect.  If you allow your dog to practice running around barking and giving into each and every impulse, then it becomes a habit that is hard to break.  Instead, limit his freedom with the leash. Let him practice not looking for things to be upset about. Practice laying still and being calm.  Practice calmly playing with a toy in a designated space.  Then calm behaviors become the habit.  Stick to your guns on this for at least a week. I promise you will see a huge difference! -email your questions to

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