It has been said that a trained dog has the intellect of a child in the age group of between three and seven years old. At first glance this may seem commendable, but when one stops to think about it, that intellect is not really advantageous under all circumstances.
An intelligent dog knows whether his owner is on the premises or not. Therefore, he knows whether his adverse behavior can be corrected or whether it will go unnoticed. No matter how well trained a dog is, he has a mind that is capable of experiencing loneliness, jealousy, elation, worry, fear, boredom, and many other emotions that we fail to realize.
Your dog may be the epitome of good behavior as long as he knows that you are around to respond when he does bad things. But to the intelligent dog who takes your absence as freedom to misbehave, you must make a new revelation, and that is that from now on you will be home, even if you are not there!
“How”, you might be asking, ‘Can I always be home, when I’m not?”
The solution is really quite simple but putting it into practice can be a little complicated. The secret lies in making your dog believe that you are gone from the house. This is best accomplished by setting up the situation. Take a drive in your car, out of sight from your house, then park at the curb nearby, get out, and quietly walk back to your home.
In staging the scene, care must be given to never underestimate the intelligence of your dog. If you do, he just might turn the tables on you and perceive the entire thing is a new game that you are playing, all for his enjoyment.
Also, when you typically leave the house by way of your vehicle, don’t try to fool your dog by setting up this situation by just closing the front door and pretending to be gone. He is much too smart for that. Your dog will have to hear the usual start of your car’s engine and the sound of the vehicle fading away as it drives out of distance. By doing this, your dog will absolutely believe that you are gone.
When you sneak back to your house, be sure not to inadvertently alarm your dog by rattling your keys or making heavy footstep sounds. A dog’s ability to hear is far superior to mankind’s and he will know that the gig is up, and that you are actually home.
If your dog is a backyard dog, and you have managed to sneak quietly into your house unnoticed, sit back, relax and wait. The instant he starts to bark, you should emerge from your house with a water gun, your tin cans, or even water-filled balloons to toss nearby. This entire scene is be repeated as many times as necessary to get the point across that, although he hears and believes you are gone, you’re really just “one bark away”.
If your dog is a house dog, all of the members of the family should join in the staging of the schooling. In other words, everyone should leave the house together and walk toward the car. One member of the family should remain on the front porch (out of site), while the rest of you drive away. At the first bark from your dog, a family member who stayed behind on the front porch should be the one to burst through the door like a wild bull, give off a loud shout command, and accompany this with your weapon of choice: a squirt gun or a set of tin cans.