Mary has some good tips.
Behaviorally, There are two different ways to approach it. Both will take time and patience on your part. Game hunting is a strong trait in poodles.
One is to stop him as he begins to start the behavior. Rather than yell, get between him and the door and make him 'give space'. This is a technique advocated by Cesar Milan. And to be even more effective, make sure he has been exercised and is in a good calm place (& tired) before you start the training.
The other is to have a 'gold' treat. Something he really likes (turkey, chicken, etc) and use it to distract him. Unless he stops sits, waits, and looks at YOU, he does not get the treat. Timing is everything so he has to get the treat as soon as he does what you want. He may again go for the squirrel but hold the treat under his nose until you have his attention again. Engage his nose and eyes rather than a lot of talking on your part. And when he does good when first doing this don't give verbal praise as that tends to re-excite them. As he learns and isn't lunging and barking anymore, you can use 'good boy' in a calm not excited voice.
Both techniques are good ones and a combination may be effective, but the biggest thing is he is not respecting you as pack leader when you tell him not to do that. You have to reestablish that alpha position and impress upon him that he is not allowed to be destructive.
I have been guilty of trying to reason with my pups in the past to no avail. With our current pup, we work very hard on establishing the boundaries. She and we are all happier for it and we seldom have any misbehavior. As a pack animal she understands this is our home and she needs to follow pack rules. (MY home actually as I am alpha. hehehehe
We have a screened in patio and every spring we need to reinforce to Maggie that she can't charge the squirrels and rabbits in the yard (which may mean breaking through the screen) nor can she bark at them. We use the down, settle, wait in a firm, calm voice. If that isn't working we back her up. If that doesn't work she must go inside (on her own power, we do not drag her in).
If your pup in naturally alpha, you will have a more difficult time training him but it can be done.
Also, maybe you can discourage the squirrels from that area. Add red pepper flakes to the bird seed. The squirrels hate it and the birds love it. Squirrels don't hang out at the feeders where I have it added to the seed.
With patience and repetitive training you can do it. Good luck.
Edited by: STARLASUE at: 3/16/2010 (21:40)
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