Howling at the Piano

Posted by Anjie
Apr 2, 2008
My cute 21 month old Shih Tzu howls whenever the piano is played. He does not do this at any other time but just whenever someone plays the piano. This is a problem because I am a studying pianist and also a piano teacher. I cannot tell if he is scared or just enjoying himself as there seems to be no consistency to exactly when he howls (loud vs. soft, low vs. high) just that he usually does whenever the piano is played which is daily and for many hours at a time. I actively follow the Alpha Dog strategies which have worked in many other ways. I have tried completely ignoring his howling and praising him when he doesn't (which has not changed his behavior) and I have tried telling him No (which helps but only temporarily). Any suggestions on how to get him to stop permanently?
Posted by Todd
Apr 6, 2008
HI there Anjie and thanks for the post.

I am glad that you have given things a good go and im sorry you haven't had any success yet but we will try to fix that.

I can imagine how frustrating this is for you. I am glad you have tried ignoring him as well as telling him off.

What we are going to do is to focus completely on him for a few days. You will need someone to play the piano while you focus on fixing the barking.

We are going to reprimand him as you have been doing but a bit more consistently, a bit more frequently and with the addition of a water pistol.

1) Get your friend to start playing the piano while you have your boy in a room at the other end of the house

2) When he barks tell him off as you have been doing with a GRRRR or an AHHHHH as well as a squirt with the water pistol. This will tell him off and take his attention away from the piano.

3) Repeat this over and over again. Make sure you reprimand him as soon as he does it and every time he does it.

4) Have each session go for 10 minutes and do it a couple of times a day
5) Once he is good in this room move a room closer and closer to the piano.
6) Once he is good at one distance then he can proceed.

7) Once he is in the same room as the piano move closer and closer to the piano.

Make sure you are consistent with your reprimands. Be patient and take things nice and slow.

Good luck and please let me know how things go and if i can help anymore