Why does my dog hate chair legs?
(Q) My two-year-old Westie, Lily, has developed an issue with my dining chairs. Initially we thought it was because she could see herself in the chrome legs so we sprayed them matt silver. Although this has improved the situation it has not resolved it.
She is unsettled — watching the legs and barking — as we are eating. We try to control it with treats throughout the meal. As soon as we move the chairs she stands over the legs making a constant, distressed, high-pitched bark even after we have moved from the table; she will not be drawn away.
(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: Your approach has been very sensible so far. Lily may have developed the habit when the metal legs reflected either her image or perhaps light. Although you have reduced the reflection, there may still be an issue with light or some movement being detectable, especially since she has already developed this expectation.
Encourage Lily to spend time elsewhere while you eat and continue to provide her with distractions. It may help if you teach her a good leave it command and to understand a quiet cue where you focus on praise and rewards but only when she is calm and quiet.
While you are working to break this habit, it might help to use a house line so that you can calmly lead her away from the chairs. When she is turning away and stops barking, praise and reward her, and then guide her to perform a different activity.