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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I have a 55 pound Shepherd Blue Healer mix. When we go out and play he starts barking if I don’t throw the frisbee or ball fast enough. If I turn to talk to someone he starts barking barking barking. If I go over to the neighbors and he hears or sees me he starts barking barking barking. Sometimes if I’m busy and I don’t play with him he starts barking to get my attention. He also barks at every dog that goes by and I mean barks like he’s gonna rip your throat out. It’s so loud and shrill I scream at him. I know screaming is not a good thing but I jumped out of my skin at the sound of his bark. He does stop but I’m sure the whole neighborhood hears me. Yes I am reactive. I don’t know how to stop the barking. Anybody, suggestions, help, please. I feel horrible but I’m so reactive and I don’t know how to stop his barking or me being jolted by the shrill of his bark. I’m surprised my ears don’t start bleeding bc of the sound. Thanks for any suggestions.

Robin and Buddy the Bambino K9
 

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You are right, you screaming at him just raises the whole 'temperature' even further.

Two things come to mind. You need to fix the cause - what makes him bark - AND you need to fix the response (the barking itself).

To fix the cause, I suspect learning impulse control would help a lot. The video below will help with that.


Once you have started on that, I like the yoghurt pot method for barking. Get a yoghurt pot, and smear the inside with wet dog food, squeezy cheese, yoghurt or anything else your dog likes. When he starts to bark, you can offer the pot to lick - he can't bark and lick at the same time.

As he is doing that, repeat the word that will become your ”quiet” cue.

After some repetitions and you think he has got it, give the cue and if he stops barking, give the pot as a reward (if he doesn't stop barking, stay at step 1 for longer).

When he is stopping on cue, gradually increase the delay between the cue and reward.

Once it is reliable, you can start fading the reward to something more convenient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You made me laugh as you're so on point. I know that yelling makes it worse. I just jump out of my skin every time. I will try to control MY impulses better 🤐 while on work on his. I will attempt your method. I need to do something besides get myself all jazzed up which gets HIM more jazzed up. Thanks for the tip. Will do!
R and B the K9
 

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Hello everyone,

I have a 55 pound Shepherd Blue Healer mix. When we go out and play he starts barking if I don’t throw the frisbee or ball fast enough. If I turn to talk to someone he starts barking barking barking. If I go over to the neighbors and he hears or sees me he starts barking barking barking. Sometimes if I’m busy and I don’t play with him he starts barking to get my attention. He also barks at every dog that goes by and I mean barks like he’s gonna rip your throat out. It’s so loud and shrill I scream at him. I know screaming is not a good thing but I jumped out of my skin at the sound of his bark. He does stop but I’m sure the whole neighborhood hears me. Yes I am reactive. I don’t know how to stop the barking. Anybody, suggestions, help, please. I feel horrible but I’m so reactive and I don’t know how to stop his barking or me being jolted by the shrill of his bark. I’m surprised my ears don’t start bleeding bc of the sound. Thanks for any suggestions.

Robin and Buddy the Bambino K9
It's a teachable moment.

1) He wants you to throw the frisbee.
2) He's barking to get you to throw the frisbee
3) you throw the frisbee.

See where I'm going with this? It's a learned behaviour. Dog barks, he gets what he wants....

You need to flip the script.

1) dog wants you to throw the frisbee
2) dog barks to get what he wants
3) you bring him back to a clamer state of mind.
4) the dog stops barking and "sits" (or whatever you decide indicates a calm state of mind)
5) you throw the frisbee.

My point here is that the REWARD (throwing the frisbee) must come as a result of the DESIRED behaviour (being calm). As long as you keep throwing the frisbee in order to "shut him up" then he will continue to bark and it will get worse.

See where I'm going with this?
 

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I have the same issue with my dog. My trainer told me to ignore her, and when she calmed, to reward her then. I didn't find that worked, though it's a technique.

What has been working better is I have treats with me, the second she starts barking I call her over, do some tricks with her (target is a great one), and make her lay down. When she's down, I treat her. Usually the stimulus is still ongoing so when she's down she hears the stimulus, but I treat her for not reacting. I'm not completely successful yet, but her 'fits' are much shorter in duration, and she's more responsive to me in those moments.
 

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In addition to the very valid point made by @dogslife, I would add that both Shepherds and Blue Heelers are very vocal dogs by nature, so to some extent you may be battling genetics here as well.

I've only had 1 Blue Heeler over the years, and she was an awesome cattle dog, but a bit of a yapper.

All of which to say that you can probably lessen the barking as dogslife pointed out by rewarding behavior you want, but you may have to settle for "better" not perfect due to the breed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's a teachable moment.

1) He wants you to throw the frisbee.
2) He's barking to get you to throw the frisbee
3) you throw the frisbee.

See where I'm going with this? It's a learned behaviour. Dog barks, he gets what he wants....

You need to flip the script.

1) dog wants you to throw the frisbee
2) dog barks to get what he wants
3) you bring him back to a clamer state of mind.
4) the dog stops barking and "sits" (or whatever you decide indicates a calm state of mind)
5) you throw the frisbee.

My point here is that the REWARD (throwing the frisbee) must come as a result of the DESIRED behaviour (being calm). As long as you keep throwing the frisbee in order to "shut him up" then he will continue to bark and it will get worse.

See where I'm going with this?
You made me laugh too. I'm so reactive I'm an idiot. I will try to control my nerves and do the treat when I get him to a calmer state. R and B the K9
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have the same issue with my dog. My trainer told me to ignore her, and when she calmed, to reward her then. I didn't find that worked, though it's a technique.

What has been working better is I have treats with me, the second she starts barking I call her over, do some tricks with her (target is a great one), and make her lay down. When she's down, I treat her. Usually the stimulus is still ongoing so when she's down she hears the stimulus, but I treat her for not reacting. I'm not completely successful yet, but her 'fits' are much shorter in duration, and she's more responsive to me in those moments.
Thanks for the response. I'm in the process of making chicken. He will do ANYTHING for chicken. I will update my progress! R and B the K9
 

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You made me laugh too. I'm so reactive I'm an idiot. I will try to control my nerves and do the treat when I get him to a calmer state. R and B the K9
yeah, yelling at the dog for being reactive isn't going to help. To the contrary. The dog will recieve that as "barking because I am barking". It will reinforce the behaviour.

What you can do if the dog is on a lead is to abruptly change directions in response to reactive behaviour. For example if he starts barking at another dog then literally make a 90 degree turn to the left or right. This also works if the dog is pulling on the lead.

I think you also understand, even if it's hard for you, that reacting to the behaviour also validates the behaviour. You need to set the example. If you want your dog to respond calmly then YOU must respond calmly. Insofar as your dog is taking behavioural cues from you, you must model the behaviour you want to see.

Case in point, my dog runs up t o a window in our living room and barks when he hears another dog barking outside. I will go and stand beside him (I don't admonish him for barking) and say, "what is it"? what do you see?". Once there is nothing else for him to react to I say, "OK, done!" and he stops barking. This plays in to the dog's natural behaviour but sets a boundary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
In addition to the very valid point made by @dogslife, I would add that both Shepherds and Blue Heelers are very vocal dogs by nature, so to some extent you may be battling genetics here as well. I've only had 1 Blue Heeler over the years, and she was an awesome cattle dog, but a bit of a yapper. All of which to say that you can probably lessen the barking as dogslife pointed out by rewarding behavior you want, but you may have to settle for "better" not perfect due to the breed.
Good point, I never thought of that. I'll take better not perfect. I am going to try the "treat" today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
yeah, yelling at the dog for being reactive isn't going to help. To the contrary. The dog will recieve that as "barking because I am barking". It will reinforce the behaviour.

What you can do if the dog is on a lead is to abruptly change directions in response to reactive behaviour. For example if he starts barking at another dog then literally make a 90 degree turn to the left or right. This also works if the dog is pulling on the lead.

I think you also understand, even if it's hard for you, that reacting to the behaviour also validates the behaviour. You need to set the example. If you want your dog to respond calmly then YOU must respond calmly. Insofar as your dog is taking behavioural cues from you, you must model the behaviour you want to see.

Case in point, my dog runs up t o a window in our living room and barks when he hears another dog barking outside. I will go and stand beside him (I don't admonish him for barking) and say, "what is it"? what do you see?". Once there is nothing else for him to react to I say, "OK, done!" and he stops barking. This plays in to the dog's natural behaviour but sets a boundary.
Once my dog sees another dog outside he doesn't know he goes wild. Barking, growling running to the next room for the window. I literally have to pull him out of the room of just keep the door shut. Apartment life is not for him (or me). We always had a house and this behavior was non existent. But...........that's a whole different story. He's actually very friendly. He likes a lot of dogs especially little dogs. There's only a few he doesn't like and we avoid them. Story for another day. At this point I want him to stop barking for attention so I can actually take him out and be around others.
 

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The day before he let out a bark and I said "quiet" and went in to my pocket for chicken pieces. He stopped immediately. Success! Yesterday he looked at me and started barking barking barking. He was so loud he didn't hear me say "quiet". I grabbed him by the collar and of course he stopped. Not the best method. If I can catch him prior to the tirade, treats might help. If not I'm going try ignoring him and walk away.
 

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Once my dog sees another dog outside he doesn't know he goes wild. Barking, growling running to the next room for the window. I literally have to pull him out of the room of just keep the door shut. Apartment life is not for him (or me). We always had a house and this behavior was non existent. But...........that's a whole different story. He's actually very friendly. He likes a lot of dogs especially little dogs. There's only a few he doesn't like and we avoid them. Story for another day. At this point I want him to stop barking for attention so I can actually take him out and be around others.
Do you guys do much brain work at home? Could be just sniffing out treats hidden around the room. You could go deeper into scent work and things like that, but maybe if you could work out his brain, he will feel more satisfied and not seek to bark as much at the windows? Maybe simple training sessions? I try to teach my puppy at least one new thing a day. Could be easy like jumping up on the sofa and back down again? Or jumping over or under your legs, weaving through as you walk? I usually don't use treats for this, I just use toys and teach them as we 'play'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Do you guys do much brain work at home? Could be just sniffing out treats hidden around the room. You could go deeper into scent work and things like that, but maybe if you could work out his brain, he will feel more satisfied and not seek to bark as much at the windows? Maybe simple training sessions? I try to teach my puppy at least one new thing a day. Could be easy like jumping up on the sofa and back down again? Or jumping over or under your legs, weaving through as you walk? I usually don't use treats for this, I just use toys and teach them as we 'play'.
We do zero brain work at home. Did did quite a bit when he was a puppy but have become quite lazy now that he's 8 y.o. He's becoming an old man so some times I get ignored. Not sure if he will respond unless there's chicken involved. I could try it with treats. Thanks!
 

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We need some serious help with this. Our dog barks at us constantly while we eat dinner or watch tv. If you are in motion she will follow you around, but she is quiet. We have tried the following:

1. Ignore the barking - She might stop after 10 minutes and lay down, but no long term impact. Resumes at the next opportunity.
2. Reward for good behavior - we will say quiet when she stops barking and reward with a treat. We will ask her to be quiet and lay down in her bed. Reward the good behavior. The problem is now she pops up instantly and starts barking again when the treat is gone.
3. Impulse control - tried the techniques in the video. She does very well. Not helping with her barking.

Any other suggestions?
 

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I thought this was an interesting technique (I can't remember how I came across it, maybe it was even one of the members here that posted it first). I've seen these types of videos pop up quite a lot recently (where you first mark and reward the undesired behaviour and then slowly transition to the desired - counterintuitive, but actually quite effective!).


Our dog barks at us constantly while we eat dinner or watch tv.
I would probably just manage this during dinner and TV time, at least in the beginning, to break the already established habit of barking. I would put her on her bed or in her crate, whichever she is used to, and give her a long lasting chew, a kong, lickimat or something else to keep her occupied with her own chewing or licking project.

In parallel, I might do short training sessions to slowly teach her to go to her "family dinner spot" (I would pick it strategically, so that she would be close enough so that I could reinforce good behaviour without getting up too much, but out of the way enough not to be a pestilence). I would work on longer durations of stay, and finally teach her that when I (or the family members) sit at the table, her job is to go to her designated spot and relax there. I find that when they have a clear expectation of what they are supposed to be doing, it helps many dogs chill out. But sometimes management is also all you really need.
 

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Yup. Sometimes it feels like we are making progress but then she does a quick 180.
That might be something called extinction burst. It's where a problem seems to get worse, because what used to get a reaction from you is no longer 'working', from the dog's perspective. So she does what she was previously doing (in this case, barking) even more. This is actually a sign that what you are doing is helping!
 
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