When I moved last fall, I discovered that River LOVES to bark out the front window. He didn’t really have the opportunity to do it at our old house because there was a couch in front of the main window. But here, it’s all wide open and he can see everything. He let’s me know about all the bunnies, flies, leaves, blowing, people, squirrels, dogs, dust particles and everything else he deems a threat. My Great Dane, Jasper, used to do this and I used to tease him that ‘a mosquito hit the mailbox’, thanks for letting me know! It’s very stressful for dogs who can engage with their environment like this because they are trying to do their ‘job’. Alerting and chasing danger away (dogs walking by, the mail person, squirrels, etc) can be very self-reinforcing, especially for an anxious or bored dog. They learn that their barking makes dogs and the mail person go away, and that increases the likelihood the behavior will continue.
I know many of my clients struggle with this same issue, so here is what I recommend to start ‘managing’ the environment. Management is key to successful behavior training, because it allows you to train the approriate behavior while your dog isn’t practicing the bad behavior. I went to Michaels and bought 6 large pieces of white poster board so it would blend in. And I put it on the windows. It took me about 10 minutes, and now River has stopped barking. MAGIC! We are both less stressed- he in confused a bit, but much less stressed. It has been 8 months and he is doing fabulously.