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I found this forum in the hopes of getting some advice for my nearly-2-year-old standard poodle, Lili.

Lili is a self-appointed guard dog, who typically keeps an ear and an eye out around the house and tends to give reasonable and acceptable bark-warnings 1-3 times per day while inside depending on what she hears/sees. She stops or calms down when I tell her to.

About 4-5 months ago, however, she started reacting whenever I would laugh or cough. Different from her normal warnings, in this case she seemed to think that *I* was barking, and she would jump up at the sound and go running into each room of the house barking. For all the world she looks like she is warning away all the potential threats in each room that I might have been barking at. I'll admit that the first few times I laughed at this (it was sort of cute). Then I caught myself and decided this behavior is actually quite annoying and not acceptable.

Except - I don't know how to train her off of it! I laugh as part of conversation - it's spontaneous - so she is off barking around the house before I catch myself. Same with coughing and sneezing. When my boyfriend moved in she started exhibiting the same behavior whenever *he* laughs, coughs or sneezes (but only after about 3 weeks when she had started bonding quite solidly to him).

Now she has added whenever we go to get her food from the pantry to the list of what sets her off on a run-around-the-house-warning-away-potential-threats fit. In this case, I (clearly) can predict the behavior so I make her come into the pantry and sit while I scoop out her food. While this works at the moment, sometimes I wander in the pantry for something else and she takes off barking before I know it. Today she did it when I was just cleaning vegetables from the grocery store.

I'm not entirely sure what to do in this case. Give her a treat each time I laugh, sneeze, or cough? This seems to be more about guarding behavior than anything else, and I've not had to train her onto or off of any guarding behavior up until now. She doesn't care if I ignore her; withholding her dinner after she's barked while I was scooping it out doesn't phase her (she doesn't get a treat when I sneeze - and she doesn't care much about food in general). She doesn't exhibit food-guarding behavior outside of this barking nonsense. She doesn't guard us in general, either, other than the occasional warning-barks I mentioned.

I'd appreciate any advice. Has anyone else had this behavior with their dog? I find it very odd. It almost seems obsessive-compulsive (I've been in a back room once when my boyfriend scooped out her food, and she ran in, touched her nose to the carpet, barked a few times, then ran back out without paying me any attention - then did the same in 2 other rooms before returning to the kitchen to get her dinner).

I actually don't mind all that much the weird behavior before she gets her food, but it's truly annoying to have a nice conversation interrupted any time I laugh by her barking and running around!

Appreciate any tips!
 

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About 4-5 months ago, however, she started reacting whenever I would laugh or cough. Different from her normal warnings, in this case she seemed to think that *I* was barking, and she would jump up at the sound and go running into each room of the house barking. For all the world she looks like she is warning away all the potential threats in each room that I might have been barking at. I'll admit that the first few times I laughed at this (it was sort of cute). Then I caught myself and decided this behavior is actually quite annoying and not acceptable.
What happened/changed in your life 4-5months ago?

She actually sounds like a dog that was home when it got broke into. She feels she is responsible for protecting the home from all noises. I always tell my dogs thank you when they bark alert and let them know I got it.

You can try holding her facing you. Sneeze couch or laugh. Do not let her run to the rooms. Tell her it is just me and everything is ok.
 

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I found this forum in the hopes of getting some advice for my nearly-2-year-old standard poodle, Lili.

Lili is a self-appointed guard dog, who typically keeps an ear and an eye out around the house and tends to give reasonable and acceptable bark-warnings 1-3 times per day while inside depending on what she hears/sees. She stops or calms down when I tell her to.

About 4-5 months ago, however, she started reacting whenever I would laugh or cough. Different from her normal warnings, in this case she seemed to think that *I* was barking, and she would jump up at the sound and go running into each room of the house barking. For all the world she looks like she is warning away all the potential threats in each room that I might have been barking at. I'll admit that the first few times I laughed at this (it was sort of cute). Then I caught myself and decided this behavior is actually quite annoying and not acceptable.

Except - I don't know how to train her off of it! I laugh as part of conversation - it's spontaneous - so she is off barking around the house before I catch myself. Same with coughing and sneezing. When my boyfriend moved in she started exhibiting the same behavior whenever *he* laughs, coughs or sneezes (but only after about 3 weeks when she had started bonding quite solidly to him).

Now she has added whenever we go to get her food from the pantry to the list of what sets her off on a run-around-the-house-warning-away-potential-threats fit. In this case, I (clearly) can predict the behavior so I make her come into the pantry and sit while I scoop out her food. While this works at the moment, sometimes I wander in the pantry for something else and she takes off barking before I know it. Today she did it when I was just cleaning vegetables from the grocery store.

I'm not entirely sure what to do in this case. Give her a treat each time I laugh, sneeze, or cough? This seems to be more about guarding behavior than anything else, and I've not had to train her onto or off of any guarding behavior up until now. She doesn't care if I ignore her; withholding her dinner after she's barked while I was scooping it out doesn't phase her (she doesn't get a treat when I sneeze - and she doesn't care much about food in general). She doesn't exhibit food-guarding behavior outside of this barking nonsense. She doesn't guard us in general, either, other than the occasional warning-barks I mentioned.

I'd appreciate any advice. Has anyone else had this behavior with their dog? I find it very odd. It almost seems obsessive-compulsive (I've been in a back room once when my boyfriend scooped out her food, and she ran in, touched her nose to the carpet, barked a few times, then ran back out without paying me any attention - then did the same in 2 other rooms before returning to the kitchen to get her dinner).

I actually don't mind all that much the weird behavior before she gets her food, but it's truly annoying to have a nice conversation interrupted any time I laugh by her barking and running around!

Appreciate any tips!
No DO NOT give your dog a treat very time laugh, sneeze or cough! That is telling your dog you approve of this behavior. I had a standard poodle for my hearing dog and he was given a treat when he did his job , like letting me know when the phone rang. Finlay decided that he also wanted a treat WHEN I made a phone call!! He would poke his nose at his cookies jar while I made a call. But I refused to give him a cookie , I knew once I started giving him a cookie when I made a call he would try to demand one all the time. Have you had your dog ears checked, I wonder if she has an infection and sounds are hurting her ears. It sound like your dog think she the boss of the house.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

There have been 2-3 times when the dog walker has brought her home and she's flipped out to discover someone new was in the house and "hiding" in one of the back rooms. These times didn't coincide with the beginning of this behavior, though. She also gets over it quickly - she has to. I live in Africa and have a full-time housekeeper, various embassy maintenance people, building maintenance people, a gardener, 24/7 guard, and various other people in and about the house pretty much constantly (not to mention now my live-in boyfriend). Dog walker also drops other dogs off in our yard several times a week so along with new & familiar people always on her territory she has a steady flow of new & familiar dogs (it's the dogwalker's way of granting dogs more socialization and playtime while he goes to walk other dogs - I can't express how much I wish I could take this guy with me when I move away from this country!)

She's a submissive dog, but it might be true that she's feeling too much like the boss of the house. Along with this bark-warning behavior, last week she also bullied another dog at our dog park (otherwise known as the beach) and quite assertively established her top-dog status among doggy-friends of hers at a pool party we went to. Never seen her do anything like that before. SO... I don't know. I have heard that naturally timid dogs get anxious if they feel they need to be in control. Maybe that's what's going on. Hmm.. Guess I'm off to read whatever might be in these forums on what I'm doing (or not doing) to make her feel like she needs to be the boss...
 

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I think you are on the right track with your remark about naturally anxious dogs. It sounds like there is a lot going on in your dog's world a lot of confusion and uncertainty. It would not surprise me at all if these are the reasons why your dog is showing some of these unusual behaviors from barking to that hostility towards other dogs. Maybe you can find some ways to make her world a little less full of unexpected occurrences and more of a secure routine for her.

To put it simply if my dog Tessa lived in the circumstances you've described I'm certain she would be a nervous wreck barking every noise and everyone. She would also be very stressed and grumpy with our other dog Josey and get very controlling of him which is something she does when she's feeling like her world is uncertain. And let me be clear that Tessa is a very timid dog although that timidness sometimes appears as bossiness, if you can understand what I'm saying.

It's the same for humans when you think about it. Confident people are generally more relaxed. People who are less confident tend to be more anxious and try to control the people and events around them.
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I agree, it sounds more like an anxiety problem and not guarding behavior at all. I'm currently trying to figure out how to deal with Day's own anxiety/phobia, so I'm not much with advice at this point. :headshake:
 

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Interesting indeed.

Watching her now with this in mind, I think you all are right. I guess I assumed if she was born into and raised in this sort of environment it would just be normal for her, but I think I agree that this does appear to be an anxiety problem.

Thanks ever so much for the comments! Still won't be easy to address this, but at least I feel it makes sense to me and that I'm heading down the right track...
 
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