Barking Puppy

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Barking Puppy

This is a discussion on Barking Puppy within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; I need a little bit of help with a few barking incidents. The first is that Merlin has been extremely mouthy since he's teething. As ...

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Old 03-29-2014, 09:43 AM
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Barking Puppy

I need a little bit of help with a few barking incidents.

The first is that Merlin has been extremely mouthy since he's teething. As a result, he loves to attack my hands. If I move my hands away from him he's taken to barking at me/my hands untim I either comply by returning them to a spot where he can get to them or until I get up and either move across the room with my back turned or until I leave the room completely. Usually, when I get up and turn my back on him he stands and barks at me for a few seconds before giving up. I try not to reward him or reinforce him in any way when he barks at me, but it doesn't seem like he's really getting it. I need some suggestions/ideas on what to do about it.

The other instance of barking (and making lots of excited puppy noises in general) is when I get ready to take him out for a walk. Usually he just makes lots of puppy noises, but he goes in to a barking frenzy when he hears people in the hallway as we step out of my apartment. At first I thought that maybe it was because I was getting him too riled up before we left by asking if he wanted to go for a walk. I've tried cutting up most of the "routine" I had established (putting shoes on, getting my keys, putting his harness and leash on), thinking that might cut back on just how excited he would get prior to actually going out my apartment door, but it hasn't really helped. He also makes a lot of noise on the way down in the elevator. Is there anything I can do to help him get past this noise-making stage? I know he's still a puppy, so I'm not holding him to extremely high expectations, I would just prefer if he could be a little quiter on the way out. I think part of it is that the door to my apartment has a more private entrance than some of the other apartments (it's around the corner in a nook with one other apartment) as a result, Merlin can hear anyone moving in the hall before he sees them (hence the barking?)

I'm considering not taking the elevator down for a bit and just using the stairs until he's a little less barky. There's a stairwell almost nextdoor to my apartment.

Lastly, he loves barking at people who are near him. He's done this on the elevator, in the hallway, etc. I think it's his way of asking for attention, and I think the only way to solve it is to ask them to ignore him either completely or wait until he's sitting quietly to pet him, but is there anything more I can do? Yesterday I was on the elevator with a mom and her toddler. She was holding the toddler and talking to me while also talking to Merlin in a baby-talk voice. Well, he barked and the toddler immediately burst in to tears... Talk about embarrassing.

I've done a lot of apologizing lately because of how much barking and noise he makes.

Also, I'm not worried about noise complaints from my neighbors, our walls are pretty thick and most of the building's residents have dogs. I'm just interested in teaching my dog how to be polite in echoing hallways, elevators, etc. Barking is also not my preferred method for him to get my attention.

I'm sorry if this is rambling, I just don't really know how to go about handling this and would love some advice, tips, etc.
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:50 AM
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I should also add that I'd eventually like to transition Merlin from using his potty patch on my balcony to solely using the area on street level that all the other dogs use. Unfortunately, that's not possible right now because Merlin is so unpredictable noise-wise and my building has quiet hours from 10PM-10AM.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:10 AM
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As much as possible, reward the behavior you want and ignore the behavior you don't want. Capturing silence can be difficult when the situation is exciting like going outside but if you're consistent, he'll learn that he doesn't get what he wants until he's quiet. That means you may have to start getting ready (mentally and otherwise) much sooner than normal to allow time to reward his quiet moments as you prepare to go out. Many tiny steps and lots and lots of praise and treats for quiet.

Barking is such a normal behavior for most dogs that it's one that can be difficult to get under control. It's really how they express a lot of their emotions. I know it can be very annoying and in some environments it's going to make for unhappy neighbors, etc.

It might be a good idea to avoid the elevator while you're working on the excitement barking. It is a good idea to not allow other people to give him attention when he's barking at them. That's not always easy with strangers and sometimes you have to get a bit forceful. Not with Merlin, with the humans.

When he's barking at you or your hands, don't give in and return your hands to him. Ignore him and if necessary walk away. You might even have to leave the room briefly until he quiets. If he resumes when you return your attention to him, leave again. Dogs do what works. It's easy to reinforce behavior we don't want, inadvertently.

My dog Belle barks for attention. Though she's been ignored for the behavior for years, by me, my husband often tells her to be quiet or even starts talking to her which of course is very reinforcing to her. She will occasionally bark at me for attention and when that gets no response, she'll seek out my husband and bark at him for attention. It's a battle I've decided isn't worth waging. Some things aren't that big a deal to me in the big scheme of dog behavior.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:15 AM
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So, I basically need to wait until he's quieted down before we leave the general vicinity of my apartment? I think I can do that.

I'll keep working on ignoring the barking when he barks at me and working with other people when he barks at them.

Part of me hopes that when he gets older this will subside. As a breed, from what I've read, Bostons are supposed to be less barky than most. I guess time will tell in the end.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:16 AM
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I feel your pain. Before I moved out and took Piper with me, my boyfriend would always respond to her barking, which of course made it constant. So I've been working on her with it.

What I did for walk/potty outside time (since I live in an apartment too), is the moment she started barking when I put my coat on, I took it off and did something else. I would try again and again until she was quiet through the whole coat process. Then I moved to the leash. Same thing. If she barked once, I put it back on the hook, took off my jacket, and walked away. Then I started the process all over again. I have gotten to the point now where she doesn't bark at all until we get to the door. Still working on that one, but it only took her a few days to figure out quiet = going outside.

Thank goodness my neighbors are tolerant, because the walls here are thin.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:22 AM
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I'm wondering if putting his harness and leash on at the door would be a better idea. I usually do it in my living room and walk him through the gate I have set up and then out the door. I've had pretty good success teaching him that the doors and gates don't open until he's sitting politely.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:27 AM
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You can also try putting on his harness and leash and then go back to doing something unrelated to going out. Everything we do to prepare for a walk is very exciting to a dog. Breaking down each step, as TwoPuppies advised, is a great way to lower the excitement level. As he learns to calm down, ask for longer and longer periods of calmness before he's rewarded with going outside.

Hoping he'll outgrow it might not be the best option. Being proactive now will probably be your best approach.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:29 AM
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Oh yes, I'm definitely going to work on it, I'm also hoping he'll outgrow it haha
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:31 AM
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Lol, I agree with Grabby. Piper is 11 months now and she definitely didn't grow out of it. I'm going to try the longer period of calm myself, since she's always bouncing off the walls.

You'll get it! It just needs some patience. My next door neighbor actually commented the other day when we passed in the hall. He said he always knew when it was food/time to go outside because he could hear her. He said when she was suddenly quiet he thought she hadn't gone out and I was neglecting her, lol.
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Old 03-29-2014, 05:36 PM
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Whatever you do, you must be consistent in your interactions and discipline.

It is vital that you discourage your dog from nipping your hands as this can soon turn into a vice and once established behaviour will be extremely difficult to correct. You can imagine the problems this may cause if it becomes established behaviour and the dog does it to other people and strangers. The adage is "firm but fair", reward good behaviour, but do not use bribes for everything.

The barking is often for attention and your dog needs to learn that attention is given when you say so not when they pester you enough.
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