I have 4 dogs - 3 pit bulls and a small Chihuahua mix named Georgia Peaches. Of course little Georgia Peaches is naturally the loudest and the bossiest, and one of the behaviors I have had to train extensively is her barking.
One of the times she likes to bark the most is when I am taking the dogs through the Starbucks drive-thru window. And when you think about it, this makes sense as something that would scare a dog. She's trapped in a box and can't move, loud noises are crackling through a speaker, and then at the end strange men reach out through a window and grab at her.
This experience, without fail, triggers her barking.
Thanks to our hard work at home, she is trained to be quiet when I tell her to, so I give her the command for quiet and she follows it. If she gets overexcited it happens again and I tell her to be quiet and she listens again.
The reason for the continual relapses is that the training doesn't deal with her emotions, it merely directs her to a new behavior regardless of how she is feeling.
To truly change a dog and to take away their stress, we have the duty to change their emotional responses.
Thus, Starbucks has what they call "Pup Cups." These are just small cups filled with whipped cream. They are awful nutritionally for humans or dogs, but often I am willing to make sacrifices in short term nutritional concerns, in order to make large gains in long-term emotional concerns.
How we change a dog's emotional response is simple. We change their experience and we change their outcomes. Starbucks has done just that.
So now when I go through the drive through, the crackling speakers, the man reaching through the window are no longer something scary - they are now associated with the pleasure she receives from diving nose first into a pup cup. All the previously scary triggers are now precursors to something good happening.
Think about this in your day-to-day life with your dog. How can you apply this to the vet? To the groomer? To the mail man? When you start thinking about changing the emotional responses your dog has, you start solving problems for good.
Email me if you have any questions on how to eliminate problem behaviors with your dog.