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Q&A: What can I do about my Shih Tzu’s barking at meal time?

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Question submitted by Jennifer
I have a female shih tzu and she is about one year and eight months old. I am having an issue with her incessant barking at certain times for her food! We feed her in the morning and in the evening so that we can keep her at the proper weight but every morning she sounds off to be fed. Sometimes it’s so loud that you would think she is dying! We let her outside to go potty first and she gets even louder and smacks her little paws against the glass door until she is fed. She is not as bad in the evening but will whine at me from her crate if she doesn’t get what she wants! It’s become a constant struggle for me. I love my little girl, but this is starting to drive me crazy, and I am not sure how to stop this behavior. Any suggestions?

Terry’s answer

Jennifer, here are a couple of things to try. First, don’t let her in the door or feed her while she is barking. I know it will be ear-shattering for the first few times, but try really hard to ignore that she is even at the door. When she is quiet for even a full minute, let her in. She needs to understand that her bad behavior will not get her what she wants, which is to be inside. Second, I would begin to vary the times you are feeding. It may be easier for you  to start this on a weekend, or when you have a couple of days off in a row. Varying the times by 1/2 hour will help her understand that you ring the dinner bell – not her. You may even try feeding her by hand for a few days so she sees that you are the giver of food – not her bowl. Remember that changing the feeding times may also change the potty times, so just be aware of her signals that she needs to go out.  Good luck, and let me know how it goes.
Terry Meeks is a dog trainer, APDT Member an CGC Evaluator in Pinellas County, Florida.  Find Four on the Floor Dog Training at FourontheFloor-Dogtraining.com and on Facebook.
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