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Discussion Starter #1
Hello:

My husband and I have had our Chocolate Lab puppy for about a month now. We love our little man, he is normally so sweet and is super smart, but for some reason he just started barking at us this week.

Ironically it isn't that bad when I am around, but once I leave for work he barks at my husband constantly. We try to engage him in play and take him on long walks, but so far it isn't helping. I normally wouldn't be concerned with barking, but since he has never done this before I am worried that something maybe wrong. He just went to the vet and they said everything is fine.

Any advice and help is appreciated. I just want to have a happy and healthy puppy. :)
 

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I find tendon chewies will occupy a busy puppy for at least a little while. Just don't reward the barking, ignore. Try adding in longer walks ( maybe jogging?) and playtime. Interactive toys are good for dogs too.
 

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Ha! Note my "barking, barking" thread below! Evidently, I am a completely old-fashioned puppy-raiser, but for what it's worth, the only thing that works for me is complete redirection, i.e., getting him interested in something else. However, I am also very aware that the barking tends to start when he is exhausted, and putting him to bed in his kennel works great in our case. But every breed is different, and what works for one won't for another. Just keep experimenting, and you'll find a solution. I know Westies are yappy, but wasn't aware that Labs were, so perhaps it really is a puppy thing, possibly brought on by missing you. Perhaps once he is convinced you'll always come home, he will stop?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have tried the firm no, but the water bottle is something that I have not done. I am currently pregnant so my way of exercising my puppy is limited and my husband does take him running every day for a mile or more. Plus he gets a long walk in the morning when I wake up and another walk when I come home after his run with my husband.

I guess I will need to look into other physical outlets for my puppy. It just seems so strange that he only barks at me occasionally and barks at my husband constantly when i am not around.
 

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Welcome to Dog Forum and congratulations on your new puppy. You must share pictures.

Eklutna's thread (Barking, barking, barking, barking...) has some good suggestions for keeping your pup occupied, and providing mental and physical stimulation to reducing barking.

It sounds as though your pup may be barking for attention. Does your husband play or engage or even talk to your pup when he barks? If so, then he's reinforcing the barking which is encouraging the barking.

Puppies change rapidly (as I'm learning), so a month ago he could have been perfectly satisfied with your routine. He may need more challenge and activity now.

I would, however, advise you not to use aversive techniques like loud noises or spraying with water. If your dog is barking for attention, even bad attention is attention. Plus, there are several other considerations as detailed in these stickies:
4 quadrants of operant conditioning
Suppression, Modification, Shutdown, and Fallout.
 

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You know, one thing I try to remind myself about this puppy stuff.....it's most likely going to end. Maybe not always, but they're puppies! Of course they're incorrigible! And they grow up and get themselves organized, and a lot of this stuff become non-issues. The thing that has worked best for me--so far--is to figure out what the barking means and then provide a redirection. In my pup's case, it means he's tired, almost always....and so he gets redirected and/or put to bed. In my older dog's case, it means they are being protective or being the working dogs they are. I might have been able to stop the barking when they were puppies, but I didn't know enough. Now, I know that when they're sure everything is okay, they'll stop. They don't bark because they're bored or frustrated, they bark because it's their job to bark, when the mail person comes, or the FedEx person...sometimes stupid things too, but they are doing what they're bred to do, and they stop when they think their job is done. I guess I've learned to live with it.
 

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Please do not spray your puppy in the face with water. That will only teach it to fear you and water. It is easier to teach the puppy what you want then to punish it for being a dog. Please read up on the information posted above by @cookieface . I would suggest that @BanditHuyana read up on the positive training methods as well.
 

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Folks, This is a positive reinforcement focused forum. Aversive advice, such as spraying in the face and intimidating verbal corrections--however mild that may seem to a human--are PROHIBITED. Please Review the rules here and if you'd like to know WHY the rules are in place, review the links within: http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training-behavior/forum-rules-guidelines-training-behavior-please-4330/ (If you are familiar with the rules, please report problematic advice so we can remove it asap. Thank you!)
@LabLover2410, reasons you should NOT use a spray bottle: 8 reasons why you shouldn’t train your dog using a spray bottle. | glasgowdogtrainer

We have a ton of posts on the forum regarding problematic barking. I'd encourage you to use the Search function in the green menu bar above to find similar questions and applicable answers.
 

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Just a note, not sure how old the dog is but high-impact activities like jogging are best left for after the growth plates have closed over, at roughly a year of age.

You say he barks 'at' you; it sounds like demand-barking? This can be a tricky behaviour to avert because it really costs a dog nothing to try barking at you, just to see what happens. Any sort of engagement produces a result that is reinforcing to them at best and informative at worst, so its most important to refuse to engage him when he barks, and reinforce him for being quiet. I find that the best way to curb demand barking is

a) Narrow it down to the problem spots, i.e. when you're just about to take him for a walk or throw a toy, and reinforce him for being quiet as soon as possible before he barks. For instance, for a dog that I'm getting ready to walk I have at times thrown treats over the gate before they have had any chance to start in with "HURRY UP, HURRY UP, GET MY LEASH AND TAKE ME OUT!"

b) When he does bark at you, just stop what you are doing and walk away for a moment. Even if you have to walk back and forth 50 times just to take him out to play, its reinforcing the fact that exciting things happen more slowly, not more quickly, when they are barking their heads off.
 

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Please don't use a spray bottle!

When my boy was between the ages of 12 & 18 weeks he started barking at me for what seemed like attention (i.e. he would bark whenever I wasn't paying him any attention). I continued ignoring the barking and giving him attention when he stopped. He still barks at me occasionally (he is almost 6 months old now) but ignoring the behavior seems to have done the trick.
 

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It is especially difficult when you've got different patterns of behaviour when different people are present. My 10 month old pup turned into a whiner and a pacer when she was alone in a room with my boyfriend, and it took me forever to realise that I needed to tell him that I couldn't come save him from that and that he needed to set the rules himself! It took less than five minutes of him redirecting her to do other things, and he's never had a problem since because she understands what she's supposed to be doing now.

I'm going through a burst of demand whining from her right now and NOTHING was making a dent in it, not redirection, not ignoring, not increased exercise, not increased training, and not leaving the room to deny her something to whine at. I recently switched tactics, and I'm now treating whining as a request to go to her crate in another room, because it's obvious she has no brain to practice self-control. She's going happily to her crate, getting a small treat and spending anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour in it, with or without a kong or bone, and it is always better when she comes out. Being ultra consistent about this is helping a lot, I think because she's beginning to realise that whining cues downtime in another room, always, so there isn't any room to think it might do something else.

If your small pup is not happy in his crate for short periods, I would probably not try this until he is, because the last thing you want to do is to create a situation where you're using the crate as punishment (making him stay away from you when he really wants to be with you) rather than a redirection to positive behaviour (being quiet and contained while he is busy with a bone or kong). I hope the difference makes sense.

Good luck with your pup! Let us know how things are coming along!
 

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I soo know where you're at right now @LabLover2410 lol. My girl found her voice at 12 weeks and well...she likes to use it whenever she can. What works best is redirection and ignoring. If your pup is barking at you (meaning staring you dead in the face and barking) it means they're wanting something. Unless you've missed something, like filling the water dish or maybe a meal, then ignore it. If you have to get up and move, so be it. I wish I was a little tougher on this rule, now I have a very demanding 17 month old.

If your pup is barking out the window, at people, or just in general then you can redirect to a frozen kong or a bully sick (frozen bully sticks are even better for the teeths). I wouldn't leave a pup with a bully stick without a watchful eye over them, though. You can even start a game of tug or fetch to get their attention. Reward for them moving to the new thing you want them to be doing. You can also try the "look at me" game and reward for looking at you and silence. I also HIGHLY recommend teaching "speak" and "hush"; very valuable commands. You can also try time outs, they're life savers!

If it's more of a separation thing, try leaving and then coming back, varying times/increasing time as you go. Believe me, it helps!

Whatever you do, DON'T:
-spray your pup with anything!! Your pup may become scared of you and/or water; My experience your pup will just get angrier.
-Don't yell back; they perceive you as barking with them, just makes them bark more
-Use a shock collar/citronella collar (see reason #1)
 

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Along with the great advice given, (I can link you to videos of how to teach "Speak" and "Quiet" if you'd like!) here are some links that may be of help to you.
@Eklutna, I'm not sure if I linked these in your thread? If not, they may be helpful to you as well. :)

Nine Steps to a Calm, Relaxed, Quiet Canine. Have a Go at DRO. | awesomedogs

Energetic, Anxious, or Reactive Dog? Try the Calm-O-Meter Method | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

The ABCs of Barking | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

How to Stop Unwanted Barking | Karen Pryor Clicker Training
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you @KayWilson for the advice. I would never spray anything at my puppy. We have been teaching our puppy new tricks to keep him mentally and physically engaged and although the whole barking problem is not 100% resolved it is helping our little pup to understand more of what we are looking for.
@Megs87 thank you for the links to the videos! I will be looking into all of these ASAP. :)
 

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Along with the great advice given, (I can link you to videos of how to teach "Speak" and "Quiet" if you'd like!) here are some links that may be of help to you.
@Eklutna, I'm not sure if I linked these in your thread? If not, they may be helpful to you as well. :)

Nine Steps to a Calm, Relaxed, Quiet Canine. Have a Go at DRO. | awesomedogs

Energetic, Anxious, or Reactive Dog? Try the Calm-O-Meter Method | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

The ABCs of Barking | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

How to Stop Unwanted Barking | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

I assume a clicker can be purchased at our local pet store? I must say, I am not familiar with clicker training, and after watching a few of these videos, I still don't entirely understand the principle, but I'm trying to figure it all out.
 

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@Eklutna, you can get a clicker really cheap at a pet store, or if you sign up for puppy training classes most of the time they provide one for you.

Also, I saw your post about your puppy and the breed being hard to train. My In-laws have the same type of dog as your puppy and had great success when training there puppy in a group atmosphere. Learning with distraction can help improve the bond you have with your puppy.
 

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Yes, you can buy a clicker a for very cheap at a pet store, a Wal-Mart or Target, or online. Buying in bulk makes it much cheaper, but you may not need as many as I have just yet. ;)

Here are some more articles and videos to help you get started and understand the concept. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wv1uvvqaSw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAfY0Rp-0VI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRT6r6d79OU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBvPaqMZyo8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiMGJBxRtBw

http://www.clickertraining.com/files/clickertraining.pdf?SSAID=314743

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Fifteen Tips for Getting Started with the Clicker | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Why Can't I Just Use My Voice? | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

The Neurophysiology of Clicker Training | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

ETA: Whoops, genuinely forgot which thread I was replying to; I thought this was Eklutna's thread, sorry for derailing!
 

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Wow!! I'm overwhelmed.... TMI! I'm grateful, and I try to absorb a little here and a little there, but sometimes it's just more than I can assimilate in one day. I'll keep trying, though!
 

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Lol! Sorry about that, I didn't mean to overwhelm ya! By all means, at first just skim through them and get an idea. I don't blame you for not having the time or wherewithal to read every detail or watch every second of every vid lol! I just appreciate that you're interested in the info and want to learn to have a great relationship with your Westie. Again, my apologies for bombarding you with information haha! I've got to remember how overwhelming that can be. :)
 

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No, I think it's great that you guys put up all these links to good information. Even if I don't get to them, others will. I'm a bit resistant because I've been raising dogs for probably 30 or so years, and I'm kind of set in my ways. But it's been awhile since I raised a puppy, so I'm always interested in new information....my brain just doesn't work as fast as I'd like it to! My little guy is doing great, though, even after our terrible adventure yesterday. He's getting neutered tomorrow, which makes me kind of nervous, since he's between four and five months old....but I gather it's considered okay these days. I hate to say it, but maybe that will help some with his desire to wander!
 
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