Barking: part 9,567

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Maxy24, May 14, 2012.

  1. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    So once again I have questions about getting Tucker to be quiet. I'm home for the summer and that is my parent's chief complaint. Tucker barks when dogs go by the house and when the mailman comes. He'll also bark if he hears people outside. He won't bark at passing people without dogs unless he hears them but with summer here and windows being open he hears them more often. He barks in the window, then will start running from window to door and back again, and will also run to the kitchen and bark out that window, then run and bark between all three. It takes him a LONG time to settle down on his own, he doesn't just stop when they are out of view. So I have a container of treats in the living room that I've been using when I see someone with a dog coming by and when I hear the mailman's truck coming. He gets treats for staying quiet as they pass/come and go. I have a few questions about how I should go about doing this though.

    Sometimes I see the dogs/people first and get there with treats before he notices them, most of the time I don't. His favorite place to hang out is on the back of the couch in the window that faces the street. He will alert, maybe huff or growl a bit and then I know someone is coming and grab the treats and start rewarding. I don't know if this is going to make him more reactive since he is getting rewarded for alerting, albeit in a quieter fashion.

    Sometimes I won't notice or won't get to him with the treats until a bark or two comes out. What do I do then? Sometimes it'll be an initial bark and then he'll be quiet for several seconds before going completely off the handle. Should I still get the treats if he's already barked but hasn't completely lost it yet?

    Now today I got the treats to him when I heard the mailman. He was up at the window staring intensely and I started giving him treats. He was quiet until he heard the mailbox close at the front door, then he ran to the door and barked to his heart's content. Normally he would continue barking for a while, running from window to door until the mailman had been gone for a minute or so, loosing complete control. I wanted to prevent that and so when he stopped barking at the door for a few seconds I called him over, asked for a sit and rewarded him. He then jumped in the window and I rewarded him for looking out quietly as the mailman's truck drove off. I feel like rewarding him after he flipped out was counter productive but wanted to stop a complete meltdown. What should I do in a situation like this when I get there and start rewarding but he gets too over threshold and he barks anyways?

    And of course, if I don't get the treats to him at all before he goes nuts, what do I do?

    If in the future if he always gives three barks or so upon initially seeing dogs/the mailman I think we'd be fine with that, we just don't like when he looses it and runs around barking his head off, even long after the dog/person has moved on. We don't like that he flies on and off the couch often landing on people and frequently redirects onto the cats (to the point where they now immediately drop to the ground and hide under something when they hear him start to growl and huff).


    In the past I have tried time outs when he barks before I got treats or when I'm in the middle of giving treats but this usually causes him to completely loose it and bark for even longer than usual. He will bark as I take him away and then is quiet in time out and immediately resumes barking when I take him out again. I've tried putting him right back in 2 or 3 times but he always starts again upon leaving. He'll also start crying, panting, running around the entire house huffing and barking, and looking overall very stressed. It's like he feels unsettled because he didn't see the dog/person leave and isn't sure where they are. So I'm not going to use time outs anymore.

    I have not had a chance to be super consistent with any sort of bark training because I'm usually just trying to do it when I'm home for a week or something. Telling my parents what to do has been a waste of time, god forbid they have to get up and grab the treats when someone is coming, that's just too much work. But I have more than three months so maybe I can do something about it that will be permanent so it's not something they have to keep up.
     
  2. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    This is why I finally opted for a bark collar for Lucy. I couldn't be consistent. It wasn't fair to her. Sometimes (when I wasn't home), she got to bark her heart out with no consequence, other times I'd run over there and drag her away to get treats, sometimes I sat in the front room with her for hours practicing "look at that", etc. The rules were constantly changing.

    The bark collar has been marvelous. We tried for years to get the barking to stop (I posted several agonizing threads about it) with little to no success. With the bark collar, it zapped her once, she learned what it meant, and she's only barked a few times with it on since then (like when the ups man comes to the front door and works her into a frenzy--but no longer for dogs across the street or bicycles riding past.

    I cried and cried and agonized over the decision to use one, but it's been absolutely the right decision for us. She doesn't get so worked up any more, and it's far clearer to her when she is and isn't allowed to bark.
     
  3. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I won't use a shock collar, I'd rather he bark (my parents don't share that sentiment but I don't really care). I've thought about spray collars, but am unsure. Being as he's aggressive I am very reluctant to try and take away his bark completely.
     
  4. Panzerotti

    Panzerotti New Member

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    Dogs like rules that are black and white. A bark collar is the only way to consistently relay information to the dog that barking like an a** is unacceptable. You would probably find his attitude becoming less "aggressive" with the use of a bark collar because he would know the rules and he could stop having to worry about putting on a show and relax instead. It's funny that people think it's so mean, but in the long run the dog's mental health and quality of life improves greatly, as Cali mentioned.
     
  5. CaliTerp07

    CaliTerp07 New Member

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    Can you prevent him from being in the front room when you aren't there to watch him, then? If he's EVER allowed to do it, it's hard to delineate when it is/isn't acceptable.

    Everything I read said if you can teach them to bark on command, you can teach them to stop on command, but it didn't work. Barking is inherently self-rewarding for Lucy.
     
  6. Taqroy

    Taqroy Active Member

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    Same for Tipper. Thankfully she's not too bad - she will stop if you TELL her to (asking nicely doesn't work lol). After having Tipper I can totally understand why people turn to bark collars and debarking. I'm extremely grateful that she's not bad enough for me to have to make that choice. And Cali, I admire how up front you've been over the decision - it's clear that you're doing what works for YOUR dog and it's equally clear that you tried everything you could possibly think of first.
     
  7. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    So you're saying someone can't have a dog stop barking without a bark collar?
    And I'm not saying he's aggressive because he barks...he's aggressive towards strangers and has been for a very long time. I am able to use his reactions to tell how relaxed or scared he is. If he's barking I know I can't let people make eye contact, speak to him, etc. If he stops barking I know I can begin allowing some of that. I am glad he doesn't keep his mouth shut because then I might allow people to get too close too soon. I do not want to make him afraid to bark because I DO like to be able to use his barking as a measure of his comfort level. Plus that goes against my personal training preferences, I don't like to use pain or fear in training. The harshest I've gone is a squirt bottle for stealing and that's about as harsh as I ever plan on going. I don't feel like saying "shut up or it'll hurt" is going to improve his life, I don't think barking is worse for his mental health than trying to restrain himself for fear of pain would be. Nor do I think barking is lessening his quality of life, it's not like we spend all day shouting at him because of it. I won't use a shock collar and I probably won't use a spray collar unless we really can't make it work in a positive manner. So if that's all you have to offer then I don't think you can help me. I appreciate you trying but it's not something I want to do.

    Unfortunately no, my parents aren't willing to confine him and honestly he'd just bark the entire time anyways, and probably poop too, he poops when he gets upset :rolleyes:
    The dog needs some help with frustration tolerance, that's at the heart of his problem. We were out in the yard and a dog went by and he went nutso so I reeled him in (he was on his tie out) and took him behind the house where he couldn't see the dog and he cried and kept barking and made some awful screaming noises for a solid three minutes while I waited. When he was quiet I let him back into the yard and he started strutting around and barking and kicking up dirt even though the dog was long gone, I really think he has a hard time calming himself down, he just doesn't know how. Barking at dogs outside is pretty new and I believe it's connected to me bringing him to the park to play with dogs. He thinks they are super duper awesome now (which is great) and so his brain falls out when he sees them.
     
  8. Panzerotti

    Panzerotti New Member

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    No problem, I was a purely positive trainer for years, I know where you're coming from. We can agree to disagree. :)

    No, I'm just saying that the best, most effective dog training is consistent and has clear criteria. The more there is room for human error or shifting criteria for the dog, the longer the training is going to take, or the dog may never understand what is expected. A self-rewarding behaviour like barking is certainly tough to tackle, I wish you luck. :)

    However, I still maintain that a dog barking at people out of fear/defensiveness for no reason is not a mentally balanced, relaxed dog and neither is a dog that is constantly aroused, scanning the environment looking for things to bark at. Both of my dogs were like this, I speak from experience.
     
  9. crazedACD

    crazedACD Active Member

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    I'm not big on quick fixes..but, I just, just got this delivered on the doorstep about an hour ago.
    http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12281454
    I did a fake knock...Ritzy came running and yapping which gets everyone else going..and just freaking STOPPED and turned around. They actually seemed a little freaked out, which I'm concerned about...but holy crap it worked. I'll let you know how it works for me..
     
  10. crazedACD

    crazedACD Active Member

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    So far...it's great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  11. Kat09Tails

    Kat09Tails *Now with Snark*

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    I'm not usually a fan of ultra sonic devices. My major problem with them is that they provide feedback to dogs in the area but not doing the barking. For my sister's dog her neighbor was using an ultra sonic device outdoors - it stressed her dog to the point she was throwing up and pacing the house. The poor dog had no escape - she could hear it inside the house.

    I love the tritronics bark limiter.
     
  12. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    I do NOT recommend a bark collar, unless you are going to be evicted or something. Weigh the risks to the benefits and it's not worth it! That is imho. Citronella collars seldom work, and really assault the dog's nose and eyes.

    I would practice tons of Look At That with Tucker, to make him see passing people/dogs as a positive, and not a threat. You could do it on walks, in your front yard, and sitting with him by the front of the house. Use SUPER high value treats, like string cheese or hotdogs. He is aggressive... that is likely the source of his barking issues, he's afraid, and he's telling the people/dogs to go away. If you work on his aggression it will almost definitely help with the barking. Adding a painful shock to an already fearful dog is likely to worsen his aggression.

    Along with that, what to do when he DOES bark & you didn't catch it before he started? I would honestly opt for a squirt bottle (or compressed air if that doesn't work). Something to startle him out of his barking frenzy. Call him to you, keep a clicker treats on you, and click/treat and reward him for coming to you.

    I did this with Fozzie when he would bark at the front windows as a puppy, and he's now an exceptionally quiet dog unless an alarm bark is REALLY warranted. I would squirt him once, just as an interrupter, then run off in an excited way and click/treat him for coming. Then I'd work on some other commands to keep his focus on me. My trainer told me to not give him access to the front windows... but that was simply impossible due to my house layout, and I want to be able to give my dog free run of the house so we can spend all of our time together. I'm much more proactive and I'd rather communicate with my dog, show them what I want and don't want, rather than shocking them or just managing them.
     
  13. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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    I don't think you're going to get anywhere with counterconditioning if you're not living in the house and are able to monitor most if not all barking episodes. The biggest drawback to classical conditioning is that the association between a stimulus and a response fades quickly if the training is not kept up. Operative conditioning tends to create behaviour that remains for a considerably longer time.

    Your Tucker sounds like my fiance's Chihuahua. She doesn't like people or other dogs, and would bark her head off at noises outside the house, dogs walking past, etc. We recently moved into an apartment building where incessant barking cannot be tolerated, so I finally opted to try a Citronella collar. I'm not particularly proud to admit it (I don't like applying many, if any, aversives while training) but this was a 7 year old dog well entrenched in her ways and the vast majority of her barking took place when there was no one in the apartment to quiet her.

    The collar has worked very well - it's had exactly the effect I'd wanted. It's stopped the knee-jerk reaction of "hear strange noise -> barkbarkbark". It took maybe 15 sprays over the first week to sink in, and now she's significantly quieter even when she's not wearing the collar. Now we only put it on her when we leave her alone in the apartment, or when we know we're expecting company. She doesn't wear it outside. We've had it for less than a month at this point.

    The big reason why I felt relatively comfortable using it was that her barking was mostly alert barking - not separation anxiety type stuff. Interrupting the barking cycle seems to have resulted in her being more laid back in general inside the apartment.

    Also, while I'm sure you've heard it before, it begs repeating. Increase Tucker's exercise. In my experience a dog who has the energy to bark at every little noise outside probably needs more energy burned constructively.
     
  14. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice and opinions.

    At the moment I am living at home because I'm on summer vacation, so I'll be here until the end of August. At the moment I am also here all day long because I don't have a license and haven't gotten a summer job yet, though at some point I will if things go as planned. I am going to try and get my parents to help out. Yesterday morning while I was still in bed I woke up to dad telling Tucker he was a good boy over and over because Tucker saw something and hadn't started barking yet. But dad didn't know enough to grab the treats and start using them so even though Tucker held off for MUCH longer than he normally would he did eventually start barking. I told dad what to do next time and he said he would, but who knows. They don't like to inconvenience themselves. So if he is able to bark when everyone is gone you don't think there is any chance he could learn to keep quiet when we are home? Because we don't care if he barks while we're gone.

    Even in the short time we've been working on it (I came home last Wednesday) I do see improvements. He waits longer before barking and will quiet when he is told to. He seems better able to relax after the dog/person passes as well. The mailman just came and I got to him with the treats before any barking (he had been dead asleep beforehand though so he might just have been a little slow...he didn't even notice he was here until he heard the box close). I offered two treats and he took them and then left the window to eat the bigger one before the mailman had even left, he didn't seem all that concerned about him. On Saturday he had left me and my treats to go nuts at the door when the mailman came. But being asleep beforehand might have had something to do with it. Yesterday while a Lab was going by he also laid down while I was giving him treats and the lab was still in his line of sight. He seems more relaxed about it.

    About his aggression-he is not aggressive with dogs, he loves dogs. In fact he originally didn't bark at dogs, he used to only bark at people walking by and would only be quiet if people walked by with dogs. This has now reversed and he doesn't bark at all at people, but does at dogs. Once I started taking him to the dog park and he started thinking dogs were the greatest things ever he developed this problem of barking at dogs. He is a bit reactive to them on leash as well. He gets excited to see them coming but if I can't let him meet them for whatever reason he flips out barking. Originally he would just stall, lie down and refuse to move. But then his frustration turned into barking. I should have done something about it back when he started stalling but had been doing so much LAT with just people because of his aggression that I was simply happy he wasn't aggressive towards dogs and was glad that he was happy to see them. I didn't think it would turn into barking, my mistake. I don't know if working on being non-reactive with dogs outside on walks will help him inside at all, but we're working on it. I did actually start using the squirt bottle, but haven't actually sprayed him yet. I say quiet, then pick it and the treats up and start treating for silence. He knows the squirt bottle because we used it for stealing. If he were to bark again after I said quiet I'd squirt him, but luckily that hasn't been needed since I've decided to use it.

    As far as exercise goes I can speak to my parents but I doubt they will do anything extra, I don't think he even gets a single walk a day when I'm at school. I think he might get them like twice a week. It's pathetic. And then they complain about him being too energetic. While I am home I walk him daily and take him to the dog park a couple of times a week and I play tug with him two or three times a day. I honestly feel bad about increasing his exercise too much though because it will drop back to nothing when summer is over. The other night I was on my way to bed when Tucker ran up to me with his tug, I asked dad to play with him because I wanted to sleep and dad started. He tugged with him for less than thirty seconds. Mom always complains about how tired and sore she is after work (she has arthritis and fibromyalgia) so she can't walk him. I think if she took an hour to relax when she got home she'd be perfectly able to walk the dog afterwards, she just doesn't feel like it. My brother's girlfriend always says how much better he is when I am home, how he much more calm and less frantic, and that's really just from a 20 minute walk a day and some tugging. Last night mom thought he might be sick because he was just lying around, normally he's a hellion at night, chasing the cats mostly.


    We'll keep working on it, I've been encouraged by what I've seen so far. I think maybe if he hasn't stopped by the end of the summer my dad will want some sort of collar, I don't know how serious he is about it. Do they sell spray ones that just use water? Tucker has the most sensitive nose of any dog I've ever met. If I open a bottle of vinegar and he's in the room he starts sneezing and rubbing his face on the rug. I think citronella in his face would be rather brutal and prolonged.
     
  15. el_pic

    el_pic Technocat

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    Remove the stimulus that results in barking or those who complain about such barking.
    Easier said than done.
    I have one of those Spray Collars but still have not used.
    Also have a Claming Collars and have not used.
    You might want to know that Catnip and Marijuna are also effective.
    There are many other devices which often dont work but they still bark for your $$.
     
  16. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    LOL @ catnip and marijuana being effective! ^_^

    I would definitely work on lowering his arousal levels when he sees other dogs AND people around the house & on walks. LAT is amazing for dogs who are excited to see other dogs yet frustrated behind a barrier or on a leash. Instead of barking, he will learn to come find you and defer to you. BAT seems like it'd be helpful in your case, with seeing people. Teach him that he does not need to escalate to barking when he sees people, simply using pacifying/avoidance behaviors will make people "go away" (it's actually you who walks away with him).

    Being that Tucker does sound like he has a lot of pent up energy, combined with fearfulness and anxiety, it would be a great idea to exercise him as much as you can. Even if you're going back to school - what you do over the next few months could change his life! Don't you want that for your dog? I'm sure your parents would be much happier to walk a friendly, well-behaved dog over a fearful, barking dog. And you need to let them know that to keep him from barking and reverting back to his old ways, he MUST be exercised, and they MUST continue conditioning him to see dogs and people as a positive, consistently.
     

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