As a Brooklyn dog trainer, I’m amused each and every day by the different canines that stare at me from behind a pane of glass and by the varied reactions that I get from them. With the nice fall weather upon us, a lot of dogs have taken to hanging out near windows to catch a slight breeze and to take in the sun, especially in my neighborhood of Park Slope. They come in all shapes and sizes… and temperaments.
What inspired this blog post is the dog pictured here. He’s a nice “window dog” that I keep passing almost everyday. Calm and relaxed, I caught him napping on the window sill with the window thrown wide open. What a refreshing sight as I feel a lot of “window dogs” tend to be quite vocal and bark, bark, bark at you as you pass.
If you are dealing with an over-stimulated “window dog” of your own and know not how to remedy the situation, here’s a bit of information to help you understand what’s going on. Though it may not always be the case, I find that vocal “window dogs” are trying to ward off intruders. Allowing your pooch to hang out near the window means that he exercises every opportunity to bark at those he believes are encroaching on his property. When the people continue on their way, your dog’s behavior is reinforced because it appears his barking worked to move the intruders along (even though most of the time people keep walking because they have some place to be, not because they’ve been intimidated by Fido). A behavior, any behavior, that’s reinforced will increase over time. Hence, you get the “window dog” that keeps on barking!
If this is your dog, try managing his environment instead and restrict his access to the window sill. Eliminating the trigger is a much easier solution than training your dog to not be reactive while watching the world go by. If you think your dog may be barking out the window perhaps out of boredom, consider increasing the amount of exercise he gets on a daily basis and also providing him with a good rotation of food puzzles to mentally stimulate him.