Barking. Oh dear, the barking!

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Barking. Oh dear, the barking!

This is a discussion on Barking. Oh dear, the barking! within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; A little background - we aren't new to puppies. Over the years, we've only had one dog that we didn't get as a puppy. We ...

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Old 08-13-2015, 02:47 AM
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Barking. Oh dear, the barking!

A little background - we aren't new to puppies. Over the years, we've only had one dog that we didn't get as a puppy. We even hand-raised two puppies from the age of two days old when the bitch had a litter of 15. They were an absolute dream.

We lost our 'old faithful' last September. It hit us all hard, particularly my mother. My father was ready to go out and just get the next dog that came along, but my mother wasn't and it was 'her turn'. She was pretty certain she wanted another labrador (old faithful, Toby, was a labxkelpie). She's a BIG believer in things happening when they are meant to happen, and of their being signs when things are right. We were watching a horse event one day when, out of the blue, I decided to check Facebook (I have never checked Facebook at an event before!). There, at the top of my recent newsfeed, was a 'puppies free to good home' post, from a girl we knew (the ex-wife of my sisters ex-boyfriend, actually!). They were 8-10 week old labradoodle x kelpies - she'd been minding the ex's $3000 kelpie and he managed to bust in to her $1500 labradoodle, so it was VERY accidental. There were a couple of golds, so I shot of a message, just out of curiousity, if there were any gold females left.

Long story short, turned out we were the first ones to contact her. In the litter of 9, there were 5 golds, 3 of which were female. We decided to go see them, not feeling overly hopeful, and then it turned out the girl lived literally just up the road from where the event was. So off we went, and ended up falling for a cute little girl, looks a lot like a lab with the slightly longer ears and coat of a poodle. The owners young daughter was distraught at the idea of letting go of any of the puppies, so I told her what a good home she would have and asked what she thought we should name her. My mother almost died when the girl said the same name my mother had been thinking - 'Rosie'.

So Rosie came home with us that day, even though we hadn't even been thinking about getting another dog yet, let alone a puppy.

You can skip to here if that was TL;DR!

Anyway, Rosie was a little angel. Her default was to sit quietly and just watch us. The first couple of days were heartwrenching, with her missing her family terribly and I broke a rule straight off by letting her sleep in my bed. It was an accident, I swear!

She's avoided a lot of the typical puppy behaviours - toilet trained almost straight away (only a dozen wet spots and two stinkies indoors!), no chewing shoes, and to date has only destroyed one pair of headphones. She was always a fairly quiet puppy, but recently...

THE BARKING. We didn't think we'd have a problem because she's not a fan of loud noises (when our other dog, a tenterfield terrier, barks, she runs a mile. Not to mention the dogs she doesn't know when we're out walking!), but just our luck, it seems to be her vice. It's very much an attention thing, and we can't seem to find a method that works to stop her, which is where I need advice.

We've tried ignoring her; she just gets progressively louder. We clap our hands loudly to distract her; she stops for a moment before starting again. We've tried squirting her with water; she just runs up to drink out of the spray bottle. The most success we've had is telling her to come, then sit, then drop, and then praise. Not sure if it's the right thing to do, but my theory was that she's getting attention, but only after she does what we ask. That being said, she only listens when she wants to. She's great at sit, but come is more of a 'if I feel like it' thing, which we're working on.

The biggest issue is when she's at the door wanting to come in. We have elderly neighbours to one side who adore her, and have never in our 20+ years of living here with dogs complained about barking. The neighbour on the other side, however.... Let's just say that there's been a lot of terse words between us over the years regarding our dogs (who are generally well behaved). So when she sits at the door wanting to come back inside and bark bark barks, we're having issues. We don't want to give in to the barking, so we'd been asking her to 'wait' (a command she's usually good with) and, when she goes 10 seconds without barking, she can come in, but that method is no longer working.

We're also having issues with her barking constantly when she wants our other dog to play. He's getting on in years and isn't as energetic and playful as he used to be (he changed a LOT in the months since the passing of the old lab, and not in a very good way), so quite often he just doesn't feel like playing, but she doesn't take no for an answer and keeps at him until he snaps at her.

So please, advice! Rosie is adorable and generally an angel, but this barking has to stop.

And of course, an obligatory photo. I don't have any recent ones on my computer, but here she is when we first got her. It's only been a month and a bit, but she's grown so much! (she weighed 2.5kg (5.5lb) at the vet the day after we got her - she's now 7kg (15lb)!)

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Old 08-13-2015, 08:24 AM
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I know others will have better advice but your reward system doesn't sound like a bad thing. You can try rewarding her with attention/treats when she is quiet/pauses to bark. So in the 5 seconds before she barks again, reward her for being quiet, use the word "quiet" in there. I've also tried turning my back to the barking and when my dog is quiet, turning around and praising him for being quiet and giving him attention/treat. It sounds like you're distracting her with something positive which seems like a great idea...I might have to try it with my barker!
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Old 08-13-2015, 01:59 PM
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Barking for attention is such a pain...I sympathize! The good news is that with patience and consistency, things can get better. At least she's super cute!

First, I think it's essential to give dogs some way to get our attention. Dogs are social animals, they truly need ways to communicate with us, and I think any good training plan starts by making sure we're meeting the dog's needs. So I would start by teaching and massively reinforcing a single "default" behavior -- something your dog can do when she wants attention, when she isn't sure what else to do, or in other circumstances. You can think of a default behavior as a way of asking politely, or 'saying please,' if that helps. My default behavior is "sit calmly with eye contact" -- for my dog, sitting quietly and calmly and paying attention to me is a great way to get my attention (or a huge host of other things in life), and not coincidentally, it's a behavior that doesn't annoy me. I also reinforce my dog a lot for relaxing quietly on her bed, and other "good" behaviors, so that "sit patiently and make eye contact" isn't what she's doing all day long

Second, you need to be proactive about avoiding situations where your dog is barking and you MUST respond. Having her outside and barking to come in is one of those situations. I would instead go outside with her, supervise her in the yard, and then bring her back inside...otherwise, you're just asking for barking to become a lifelong habit. Similarly, I would make sure your older dog gets plenty of breaks from the puppy, so that she isn't practicing barking at him and he isn't forced to snap at her to get a little peace and quiet in his own home. The more you can prevent barking, the better off you'll be, and the less frustrating and stressful all of this will be for you and your pup.

Finally, for the remaining barking, I would cut out all reinforcement. Reading your post, it looks like barking is producing occasional rewards for your puppy: sometimes you let her in from outside; sometimes you tell her "no" or "quiet" or "wait," which are all forms of attention; sometimes you give her a fun squirt of tasty water; sometimes you ask her to do other tricks; etc.. I realize this is totally unintentional, but rewarding a dog only occasionally (or only when the barking gets REALLY loud) will almost always make a behavior really rock-solid. In fact, if someone is asking how to make their dog perform a certain trick, like sitting or coming when called, very reliable, I would recommend exactly that kind of variable reinforcement schedule! It's a terrific way to cement a behavior and make a dog try really, really hard to do even better the next time...which is exactly what we DON'T want when we're dealing with a nuisance behavior like barking for attention!

So instead of responding to the barking by asking for quiet, clapping your hands, or calling her over, I would ignore it. This is stressful for you and your puppy, so again, preventing as much barking as possible is really important (don't put her in situations where you know she'll bark, feed meals out of puzzle toys and Kongs to keep her busy, make sure she has lots of enrichment, reinforce behaviors you DO like as often as possible, etc.). But for barking you can't prevent, ignore it completely. Expect it to get worse for a short time (up to several weeks) before getting better -- barking has worked before, so she's going to try it harder for a while. That's what happened when you ignored her before until she escalated the barking to a point where you responded...for ignoring to work, it needs to be complete and consistent. For it to be fair, it needs to include the first two steps (teaching your dog something else to do, and minimizing barking as much as possible by controlling her environment).

Good luck!
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Old 08-13-2015, 05:47 PM
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How old is Rosie now? She looks so cute in the photo.
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Originally Posted by toxxii View Post
. So when she sits at the door wanting to come back inside and bark bark barks, we're having issues. We don't want to give in to the barking, so we'd been asking her to 'wait' (a command she's usually good with) and, when she goes 10 seconds without barking, she can come in, but that method is no longer working.
Most dogs bark at the back door when they want to come in. Mine do and I let them in , they get anxious when they are shut out. I don't see it as giving in. Its their way of communication .
Is she an indoor dog? Why not just let her in ?

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We're also having issues with her barking constantly when she wants our other dog to play. He's getting on in years and isn't as energetic and playful as he used to be (he changed a LOT in the months since the passing of the old lab, and not in a very good way), so quite often he just doesn't feel like playing, but she doesn't take no for an answer and keeps at him until he snaps at her.
I had this situation with my new chi x and my old chi x . You need to supervise and intervene before he snaps. Call her away or move her to another room.
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Old 08-13-2015, 06:13 PM
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We're currently trying to figure out a solution for Roscoe's barking as well. He generally only barks when he's in his playpen and isn't receiving constant attention. He's generally in the playpen when I'm getting ready for work in the mornings or when hubby is cooking, etc, and we're not sure how to stop the barking either since those aren't times that are generally conducive to training.
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Old 08-20-2015, 09:40 AM
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We're currently trying to figure out a solution for Roscoe's barking as well. He generally only barks when he's in his playpen and isn't receiving constant attention. He's generally in the playpen when I'm getting ready for work in the mornings or when hubby is cooking, etc, and we're not sure how to stop the barking either since those aren't times that are generally conducive to training.
I have the same issue with my 13 week old puppy I feel so bad putting him in the playpen but I can't watch him and cook dinner or do other chores so I hve to but he's been barking more and more
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