What do scary movies have to do with your dog?

Earlier this week I was chatting live over in our “Connect with Your Dog” group and I asked you to imagine a scenario…

Imagine you’re alone on a dark night. You’ve decided to watch a new horror movie. You’re quite comfortable, enjoying the plotline… but you know something’s coming.

One of those “jump out of your skin” moments is about to happen. You can’t quite relax. No matter how much you try to prepare yourself for it… you jump, you scream.

As soon as you scream – you get sprayed with water. You get something thrown at you. Did it make you feel better in that situation? Or worse?

Did it make you feel more easily equipped to deal with one of those “jump out your skin” moments in the future? No!

So how does this relate to our dogs?

Many of you have told us that your dogs bark or lunge at the TV – especially when there’s animals on there. It doesn’t seem to matter if they’re cartoon animals – or real ones – even theme tunes of animal shows can set your dog’s off.

Now I live in a doggy household of TV-ignorers but I work with a lot of extreme barkers. And honestly, I completely get it. It must be so difficult to live with your dog barking at the TV every day.

It can be frustrating. It can be stressful. Especially if you have a busy schedule of work, kids, or other responsibilities – TV time can be your switch off. And if it’s the time your dog switches on… that’s not relaxing for anyone!

So what do we do?

Management is the bit where we work on restricting the opportunity that our dog will practice this behaviour. So here, it’s about either providing a distraction to your dog (such as a long-lasting chew), watching TV in another room, or watching on another sort of device that they’re less likely to respond to. It could even be as simple as moving your dog’s bed or spot on the sofa so it isn’t directed at the TV.

Training is where we look at ways to give our dog alternative behaviours to do – so you have a lifetime reduction in barking at the TV. This could be teaching your dog to do a specific job whenever they see an animal on tv. But in the long run that can be quite exhausting for you and your dog. So what I prefer to work on is slow and steady exposure to the TV. To change the emotional response, so our dogs can eventually learn to relax and settle whatever is on the screen or whatever theme tune is playing.

Now, this can sound like a bit of a slog, but so does living with barking or restricting what TV shows you’re watching.

But, why doesn’t punishment work?

I hear from so many people that they “just have to show their dog the water pistol” and they’ll stop barking. Ok. So the water pistol is effective in STOPPING the barking. BUT has it reduced the times your dog STARTS barking? No. And just like you watching that scary movie, on edge, waiting for that “event” to happen… has it helped your dog to better cope in the future?

If spraying your dog – or throwing something at them – HAS reduced the barking, then it means your dog is either suffering in silence… which I know we would never want – we love our dogs. OR you’re probably seeing other challenging behaviours. Perhaps your dog is digging in your garden or furiously biting their paws.


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We’ve been hearing from pet parents like yourselves that during lockdown there has been a huge increase in barking behaviour. Not just around the TV but in your garden, out on walks. So we wanted to give you all some help.

In this course, we’ll provide you with simple solutions and show you how you can help your dog stop barking in just 28 days. We’re going to help you tackle barking inside the home, out on walks, or in the car. Whether your dog barks at postal workers, other dogs, when they’re bored, because it feels good, or at the TV… we’re here to help.

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