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My main question is how to unlink actions from words. Years ago, my dog picked up a, I suppose, common trait. When there was a dog walking outside when we were driving him around, if we mentioned the word "Doggy", his ears would perk up, he would run to the direction we were pointing in, and bark wildly, until we had driven far past the other dog.

Now, if we make mention of the word "Doggy", his ears will perk up, he will run wildly to where we are pointing, and start barking maniacally. Often times though, there will be no dogs, and it is as if he is barking at a hallucination. In fact, we try to keep the word "Doggy" outside of conversations because any resemblance of the word causes him to run to a window, and bark wildly, even if there are NO dogs anywhere.

I would love to unlink the action "look there's a dog" from the word "Doggy", because often times, it is a hassle to bring him down once he has started barking.

Is there any easy way to accomplish this?

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Teach him that the word "Doggy" means come sit quitely next to me and get petted and maybe a treat.

In theory you can make a learned behavior disappear, but in your case I don't think is likely. Redirecting the command and behavior in a different direction, is probably your best choice.

There are some good training techniques in these answers

I believe you will also find a few more in this group

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  • So re-associate the word with a different command, got it. – yuritsuki Jul 2 '14 at 18:39
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    Since the dog is getting super excited, you may also need to work on the dog listening to you while in an excited state. You can try to manage this level by playing with your dog and then asking for a very simple behavior (ie sit). Starting off trying to get him to listen when he's too excited is a little like trying to do calculus in your head while standing in the middle of a freeway. – jeffaudio Jul 3 '14 at 13:26

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