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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys!

I've been scouring the internet about this, and have had a look through this forums search function but haven't found what I'm looking for.

My partner and I have two dogs, a Lab x Kelpie (Luna, 11 months) and a Kelpie (Keely, 12 months).

We got Luna when she was six weeks old, and then Keely a few months later as a friend for Luna. They get along wonderfully, no problems there.

My partner and I both work full time and live an hour commute away from work. We try to take them for a short (~15 minute) walk in the morning before work and a longer (~40 minute) walk in the evening after work. We take them to the beach/dog park on the weekends. We have a large backyard that they run around in constantly.

The big problem is that Keely is a barker - 90% of the time it's at birds in either ours or the neighbours backyard. If she's inside she's (usually) fine, but we can't keep her in without Luna because Luna will cry if she feels left out, and if they're inside together they destroy the house. We have chewed up skirting boards that can attest to this!.

Everything I've read has said "take away the stimulus" but when the stimulus is birds I'm not really sure how to do that. Correcting the barking (going outside and saying "quiet") is okay when we're home, but there's 10+ hours a day that we're not here which makes it hard to be consistent.

Our current plan is to take her to the vet to make sure she doesn't have some kind of anxiety - she has a really bad obsession with balls, and we wonder if that has something to do with the barking as well.

We'd be really appreciative of any other suggestions!
 

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This isn't anxiety or obsession, this is a dog acting like a dog. Take away the stimulus... Crate them inside! Find a daycare, get a pet sitter, call up a dog walker or beg your parents to take care of them. Some dogs take the backyard dog life like real sports but honestly, dogs were not domesticated so that we could do without them all day. They need jobs, interaction or barring that, at least a cozy, peaceful place to sleep.

Most dogs can do a max of 8 hours a day alone before they start to get a bit of cabin fever. And no, dogs do not make good babysitters for each other.

Sorry if I come off as harsh but you need to re-set your expectations here, I think. This won't go away with a pill or a "correction"... You have taken on not one but two extremely busy, clever, energetic breeds and this comes with the territory of high-maintenance dogs, especially.

ETA: I think you'll see an all-around improvement with the noise, the destructivity, any other behaviors if you bump the exercise up to 1 hour off leash exercise twice daily. Get a Chuck-it, load them into the car, take them to a big empty field and just let 'em rip. I find that pretty much every young (6-24 months) dog I meet is like a little gift from god after an hour of hard exercise.
 

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She sounds borrrrred. Those are two super energetic breeds that were bred to work, work, work. I hope I don't come off as harsh, but that is not nearly enough exercise for two young, energetic puppies. If you were to take them for something closer to 30/45 or even 60 minutes of hard exercise/mental stimulation before you left, you'd have much more relaxed dogs. A tired dog is a happy dog!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the suggestions!

I was wondering if the exercise was a factor. We're doing as much as we can during the week and getting minimal sleep because of it, but we could try and amp it up. Do you think an hour in the morning and an hour at night would negate the need for a pet sitter/dog walker? I don't really like strangers in the house when we're not home, is all. :) Would the exercise need to be off-leash or would a walk suffice?

The mental stimulation is something we've had trouble with too - Keely doesn't care at all about food, so Kongs don't really interest her. The only thing she really likes is the ball, but I don't know if that's necessarily mentally stimulating?

Luna is fine with all of this too, very rarely barks and generally pretty easy going. That's why I'm really only referencing Keely with my questions - I think that's really what has us so confused, that we have two and only one is an issue. I suppose it's that everyone is different! :)
 

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It's quite common to expect pet sitters to be licensed, bonded, interviewed, and you can even ask for a criminal record check and references.

Since you are gone for upwards of 10 hours, I suspect that you will probably need a sitter to give them a break in the day. Some dogs can hang in for 8 hours but even then it's common that they need a human popping in on them and interacting with them.

The other option to consider is looking into a doggy daycare. The business is growing and there are plenty of licensed/bonded/insured businesses out there. Again, it's common for people to check the facilities out beforehand and even take their dog in for an assessment/trial day to see how they fit in with the daycare regulars.

Of course, both options are pricey, yes, but much less costly than peeved neighbors. Unless you're in a rural area, you're probably subject to noise bylaws. As well, some people get so frustrated with the city (especially those who work shifts) that they take matter into their own hands. Up the street from us we had 2 weims, barking for hours on end, everybody just gritted their teeth and ignored it. Then one day the parents came home to a very ill toddler and a dead dog. Someone had chucked something edible and very toxic over the fence that did their dog in and nearly took the daughter with her. Scary, yes, horrible, yes, and it could have been worse, but people don't think rationally on 0 hours sleep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Luna would love a day care - she is all about making new friends! Keely I think might be better suited to a single person; she doesn't always get along with other dogs and I'd hate for someone else's dog to be hurt because of her.

What a sad story about your neighbours' dog. We are surrounded by several barking dogs so I don't think anyone would go the poisoning route, however never can be too careful.

Thank you again for the input - we will try to fit in some more exercise and research some care providers. :)
 

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Worth taking her in for an assessment anyways. Some daycares really are phenomenal at matching dogs to temperament/energy/age needs. I won't say there aren't less than reputable daycares out there but for every one that doesn't have a clue, there are those that are experts in doggie diplomacy :)
 

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You need to associate barking with unpleasant experience. You can bring a can with a few coins or a small horn when you bring them for a walk. Everytime they bark, shake the can at them. so they know barking equal unpleasant.

When you are away, you can also buy those devices that emits ultrasonic sound every time they barks.

Finally as what was mentioned already, you need to make them work more, walk, tricks, etc etc, to burn out all those pent up energy. else even if they dont bark they will do other mischievous stuffs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, that would be great! She is really loving but I think gets funny with other dogs near her ball/Luna/us. Thanks for the advice. :)

ETA: Didn't see Necro's response. Thanks for the tip! I was reading the rules and they said the coin shaking can make them scared of you/the situation so I didn't know if that would be a good idea. She doesn't bark on walks either, only in the backyard. Thank you though! :)
 

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@necro17 I'm sorry be to but your suggestion of aversives to barking are not good. This is a positive training site and those are not only last resort techniques, and they can ruin a dog when not used by an expert. Considering this dog is barking due to frustration and possibly anxiety, I think aversives like a bark collar would make her aggressive or totally shut down. Please OP do not do this.

I agree that your dog is bored and going crazy. This is likely frustration barking. Kelpies were bred to work all day long doing hard physical activity and your dog dossnt have a job. She's trying to entertain herself and has become neurotically obsessed with barking. It's like when lions in the zoo walk in circles. This isn't a breed that can be truly happy just hanging out in the backyard. You even said yourself that she doesn't bark on walks--and that's because she's doing something. I think a longer walk in the morning and evening would do Thr dogs good, but I don't think that will totally alleviate the problem. I do think daycare or a friend who comes by to play with the dog would help, especially if they got her doing something like tricks or frisbee. I'm trying to say this in a non-judgemental way but I don't know if you can give this dog what she needs, or that you can stop her constant barking when you're away from home so much and unable to train her. Unless you invest in regular daycare or dog sitters I think she will continue barking. I'm not saying you don't love her or are a bad owner. You might be able to work something out with help but in my opinion this is less of a dog behavior problem and more of a lifestyle clash between you and your dog. I really hope you can work it out.
 
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@necro17 I'm sorry be to but your suggestion of aversives to barking are not good. This is a positive training site and those are not only last resort techniques, and they can ruin a dog when not used by an expert. Considering this dog is barking due to frustration and possibly anxiety, I think aversives like a bark collar would make her aggressive or totally shut down. Please OP do not do this.

I agree that your dog is bored and going crazy. This is likely frustration barking. Kelpies were bred to work all day long doing hard physical activity and your dog dossnt have a job. She's trying to entertain herself and has become neurotically obsessed with barking. It's like when lions in the zoo walk in circles. This isn't a breed that can be truly happy just hanging out in the backyard. You even said yourself that she doesn't bark on walks--and that's because she's doing something. I think a longer walk in the morning and evening would do Thr dogs good, but I don't think that will totally alleviate the problem. I do think daycare or a friend who comes by to play with the dog would help, especially if they got her doing something like tricks or frisbee. I'm trying to say this in a non-judgemental way but I don't know if you can give this dog what she needs, or that you can stop her constant barking when you're away from home so much and unable to train her. Unless you invest in regular daycare or dog sitters I think she will continue barking. I'm not saying you don't love her or are a bad owner. You might be able to work something out with help but in my opinion this is less of a dog behavior problem and more of a lifestyle clash between you and your dog. I really hope you can work it out.
I know, i am not a big fan of caesar millan, but there is a limit to positive reinforcement training. you can positively train your dog for something they do right, but how do you positively train a dog from not doing something? If they don't bark whole day you gave him a treat? How can your dog associate the treat with not barking? Unless you bring him a toy bird, if he barks no treat, if no bark then treats, maybe.....

The coin can is just a reinforcement of what is wrong. You don't even need to shake it. Just show them the can and they almost know what you don't want them to do. Alternatively you can teach the word NO, Leave it, when ever they barks. Still you need to associate the word NO with something unpleasant.

Dont get me wrong, I do agree that you need to burn out all the pent up energy, have a dog walker when you are busy, etc.
 

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This is an interesting article on teaching a dog to bark or be silent using PR: How to Stop Unwanted Barking | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

OP, have you enrolled your dog in any obedience classes? Does she know basic commands? I have an extremely smart, high energy dog. I reinforce her basic commands by turning it into a game. I'll have her hold a sit/stay for one commercial break... I'll have her hold a down/stay while I go get the mail... just incorporating these things into MY everyday chores/life. I feel like this does a couple of things: first, it reinforces good behaviors and second, it keeps her brain active and reinforces the connection between us.

Once she has her basic commands mastered, you can work on some fun tricks: paw, sit pretty, spin, etc. It's really amazing to see how much mental stimulation tires them out. I can run my girl for hours and she's still asking for more, 30-60 minutes of training per day and she's snoring on the couch. :)
 

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The coin can is just a reinforcement of what is wrong. You don't even need to shake it. Just show them the can and they almost know what you don't want them to do. Alternatively you can teach the word NO, Leave it, when ever they barks. Still you need to associate the word NO with something unpleasant.
The coin can is an aversive method because it REINFORCES FEAR. Promoting this kind of training is NOT permitted on these forums. It reinforces fear by teaching your dog to be afraid of noise, thereby creating a new problem for the dog you are using it on.

PLEASE stop using this method in training, and for other readers, if you have not already, please do not start.
 

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Totally agree with @Aspen726 mental stimulation will exhaust them! If she's very focused on the ball, have her do obedience before you throw it. I make Levi sit, stand, down, heel, finish etc. before I throw his frisbee.
 

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The coin can is an aversive method because it REINFORCES FEAR. Promoting this kind of training is NOT permitted on these forums. It reinforces fear by teaching your dog to be afraid of noise, thereby creating a new problem for the dog you are using it on.

PLEASE stop using this method in training, and for other readers, if you have not already, please do not start.
You selectively quoted part of Necro's post. I'd like to know how you respond to the part you left out?

you can positively train your dog for something they do right, but how do you positively train a dog from not doing something? If they don't bark whole day you gave him a treat? How can your dog associate the treat with not barking? Unless you bring him a toy bird, if he barks no treat, if no bark then treats, maybe.....
 

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you can positively train your dog for something they do right, but how do you positively train a dog from not doing something? If they don't bark whole day you gave him a treat? How can your dog associate the treat with not barking? Unless you bring him a toy bird, if he barks no treat, if no bark then treats, maybe.....
The idea that people who avoid using punishment/aversives in training have no resources when a dog is doing something unwanted, and must simply stand around helplessly clutching their cookies is a common misunderstanding. I think it arises from a conceptualization of training as primarily a reactive process, where a trainer's role is mainly to respond after the dog has engaged in some behavior (desirable or not).

People who commit to training without punishment don't have the option of being reactive trainers. They have to be proactive, which means controlling the situations our dogs find themselves in while helping steadily build up a set of skills that can help the dog deal with increasingly uncontrolled situations.

I had an example to illustrate this, but it's long-winded and I assume the author of this thread is looking for specific advice more than a general training discussion. I think there is a lot of good advice in this thread, and hope that some of it is helpful. It might also be very helpful to find a good trainer near you -- often, a professional who comes to your house will be able to see many simple solutions, whereas a bunch of strangers on the internet probably miss many possibilities.
 

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Ok so that said...

There tends to be several issues that can pop up with the coin can and conditioned "No!"

First corrections like this will not teach the dog to be quiet when it sees birds. Normally these corrections are poorly timed and are of course contingent on the presence of the handler. In the end they typically just teach the dog to quit barking when the owner appears with the shaker. Just not effective ime.

Second because these corrections are contingent on the handler on some level the dog is likely to associate the correction with the handler. The owner shakes the can startling or scaring the dog. The owner's voice is actually conditioned/paired with an aversive. Etc. Depending on the dog the fallout from this can range from barely noticeable to pretty severe. So while sometimes not seeming to be a big deal just not something I think should be recommended online.

Third, if the correction is more ''nagging'' the dog tends to get used to it/ignores it forcing the handler to give a stronger correction The dog often gets used to that as well so again the handler has to up the correction level...

On the flip side, training this is going to be tricky!
The best place to start is prevention/management strategies paired with increased mental and physical exercise (already lot of good suggetions, jut wanted to add perhaps a large covered kennel to limit the visual a bit). First part of resolving an issue is almost always preventing it from continuing to happen, because in cases like this the behavior is likely self rewarding (fun and exciting to bark at birds, possibly a stress reliever, etc.)

Then setting up training sessions to train the wanted behavior (quietly watching birds). Perhaps starting with a variation of the Look at That game (in the Reactivity and Barrier Aggression thread) and then moving to using a remote reward system (manners minder or pet tutor) to reward quiet with handler out of sight. The issue though lies in the fact that remote reward systems can be tricky to eventually fade out which would be something you would likely want to do as 2 dogs competing for a single reward (once both out together) is probably not a good idea.

Honestly coming up with a new routine that will limit the barking is likely to be the easiest route!;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Tracie for the advice as well!

I thought I'd give a bit of an update - I've been off work sick yesterday and today so have had the opportunity to give these things a try.

After the advice yesterday I took her for an hour long walk last night, and an hour long walk this morning. When I got home this morning I then played with her for another hour with the ball, which she loves and it makes her run a whole lot.

I came inside, leaving her outside with Luna and she instantly went to the same back corner of the yard and started barking at the birds.

After a while I went back outside and threw the ball with her for another maybe half an hour.

Came back inside, exact same thing - back to the same corner, started barking.

Do you think she's still bored after 2.5 hours of walking/exercise/playing? Does she need even more? Or is this something that takes a while to "kick in"?

ETA: oh wow, lots of new replies - let me read through then edit again..
 
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