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My Pet World: How to train a sensitive dog that barks at movement, things on TV

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

I adopted BeBe two years ago. She is a mixed breed terrier about 8 years old. She is very devoted to me. She follows me when I leave the room and hides under the bed when I leave the house. She has two issues I hope you can help me with.

First, she barks at windshield wipers or anything that moves up and down. If she sees anything that looks like windshield wipers on TV, she starts barking.

The second is, she will not come to me when I am sitting down. I have tried treats, but that does not work. When I say come here, she moves farther away, and if I keep repeating my request, she hides under the bed. But she will go to my husband without his asking and want attention by sitting there or rolling over to get her tummy rubbed. Any ideas on these issues? -- Jan Hale, Las Vegas, NV

Dear Jan,

I tried to imagine things that might go up and down at your house that would make her bark. I thought of a seesaw, a yo-yo, your hand when you know the answer, and that is as far as I got. You are not alone in having a dog that barks at repetitive movements or things on TV. Some dogs are sensitive to movement and the shapes and shadows on these big screens.

BeBe barks to make whatever's bothering her stop or go away. If the behavior is not obsessive, it might be easier to be amused by her than to change the behavior.

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If the behavior is obsessive, let's offer her some training because people -- and that includes dogs -- often can't do two things at once. So, train her to "sit," or come "here" or "leave it," so when she starts barking, you can replace the unwanted behavior with a new behavior. Initially, you may have to shake a can of coins to interrupt the behavior and get her attention.

Since she doesn't come when you call her, at least when you are sitting down, then train her while you are standing. Offer her a high value treat that she can't resist, like cooked chicken. Don't stretch your hand toward her with the treats. Keep the treats in a baggie close to you, and toss them to her on the floor, dropping them closer and closer to you during the training session. Once she accepts a treat from just a few feet away, sit down and ask her to sit too, tossing that high-value treat if she complies. If she runs away when you sit down, start over.

I think BeBe loves you a lot; she is just sensitive about certain things. Be patient with her. The additional training will build more trust between you and will likely create an even deeper bond.

Dear Cathy,


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