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 Post subject: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 8:08 am 
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Dying from Nooch Lung

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:37 pm
Posts: 3301
Location: Ireland
So as people probably gathered, Lexi is one of those dogs that throws herself at life full force. Unfortunately some of this comes out in barking with excitement. Some of the barking is typical puppy stuff and I know she will grow out of it eventually. While it is hard enough dealing with this excitement when you are in love with the creator of the noise it has unfortunately pissed off the neighbours. They've complained about her barking and said I need to do something to deal with it.

I need to start by saying she never barks or makes a sound when I am not around either out in the yard or if she is inside. As soon as it is bedtime in the night she goes asleep. Bedtime is usually about 8.30 and she sleeps for 11-12 hours. No noise at all during the night bar some snoring.

Her barking usually happens when: she is looking to go out to do some toilet business, if someone knocks on the door, if a dog on the TV barks, if a dog or cat walks by the front window, if the neighbour across the road is out (she once hit Lexi when she was a pup). The barking in these cases usually stops once the problem is dealt with or gone away.

Then she barks when she is over-tired and wants to go to bed (she won't sleep during the day only in the bedroom). For this I've often gone up to bed at 8pm so she won't make a racket. The only thing that will delay me is if I need to do the washing up after dinner and/or wash a floor. So, typical day would have us getting in from a walk at about 6.45. I heat up dinner, while dinner is heating up she will be looking for me to play with her and might leave a few barks out. I eat dinner. While I'm washing the dishes she eats her meal. I watch a 20min TV show. She will start getting cranky near the end of it (about 7.30) looking for us to go to bed and will leave the occasional bark out (not persistent).

Cleaning the living room or kitchen floor..... she still hasn't gotten over the puppy reaction to brushes and mops and gets super-excited. The living room takes me 5 mins to sort out. The kitchen takes 10mins. I NEVER do them on the same day because of the barking. Putting her outside isn't an option, she ends up making more of a racket and gets stressed out if she is away from me when I'm home. My only option is to literally lash into it and get it done quickly then she is quite again.

Sprays..... she hates sprays of any sort. She will bark when I use them. I don't really use them at all except to clean the bathrooms. The actually spraying I do takes less than 1 minute and she stops as soon as it is done. Because of the barking I will quickly spray every where then go around and scrub. I only use them 2 times a week, the rest of the time I just do a wet cloth wipe.

Now.... the problem barking...... when they arrive home from some where. Because the female in the house really, really doesn't like German Shepherds she has never had any interaction with her. Because of this Lexi doesn't know them at all and really does bark when they are going into their house especially if they have their dog with them. She doesn't react to the other neighbour at all because we are constantly out walking with her and her dog. She will bark if she sees that neighbours dog though because it is her BFF and she is excited.

I know she would stop barking at the other neighbours if we took a few walks together and she got to know them and they would no longer be something new and exciting that she hasn't gotten to sniff out. That is never going to happen though because they only want to believe the stereotypes of GSD's. When she was small I used to bring her out the front to have a sniff around and to get her used to people passing, if she put a paw on to the neighbours yard or sniffed at a plant that overflows out on to the public footpath she would bang on the window.

I know the barking is really irritating at times but it isn't persistent barking for prolonged periods of time out of boredom. She is well exercised and has plenty of toys and things to keep her occupied. I really don't know what to do to get her to stop barking at the other times.

I need any tips you have on getting her to quieten down for me.

I dread to think what she would say if I had a baby in the house and it cried.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 10:05 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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your neighbor sounds like an absolute joy.

i know dogs vary as to how much they bark but it sort of sounds like she barks a lot? I can see cat in front of window or person at the door/in front of the house, but barking when she's tired or when you're trying to get stuff done seems troublesome. It also seems, and I don't mean to sound critical, that she's got you modifying your behavior to accommodate her, which might mean that she's got a different idea about who's in charge than you do.
Is it possible that the exercise she's doing is not enough for her needs? Could you ratchet up the energy burn on her walks by making her wear a backpack? Could you focus her energy on learning other behaviors or skills (for example, ringing a bell to get out instead of barking; getting her to lay down and stay in another part of the house when you're cleaning the kitchen so there isn't the circus every time you want to sweep)?
The last thing I'm not a fan of but say it anyway. My good friend has 7 dogs in a small yard/house and neighbors who really don't like him. They have threatened legal and illegal action against his pack. He has three dogs that bark more than the rest and trained them to not bark at night [which was the problem] using a vibrating collar. The collar is really vibration, not shock [i tried it on myself to see]. At this point he just has to put it on them, not even turn it on, for them to keep quiet. I am not a fan of shock collars, I think they're really horrible, but in some situations [like teaching dogs to keep away from snakes, for example] the ends deserve the means. He was going to lose his dogs and was desperate to try anything, and it worked. Maybe something like this, along with another behavior that would get a reward [go lay down, and get a treat] could stop her from feeling the need to bark every time the neighbor comes home.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 10:18 am 
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I think torque has some good ideas. I have active, working dog breeds and have found that when they act up for any reason, exercise helps. The other thing I thought of as I read your post was not to indirectly encourage the barking by responding directly to it. This is harder, but torque hits upon it when she mentions training with the bell. You'd be training, in this instance, her to recognize that the bell will get her what she wants, not barking. My border collie has a big mouth too, and when she whined we'd have to ignore it because if we reacted, we were teaching her that whining worked. Unfortunately this methodology kind of sucks because of the neighbor factor...

I'll keep thinking and post again if I can recollect anything else useful from the Early Years in our household (our dogs are seniors now and just sleep and fart a lot).


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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 11:22 am 
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Dying from Nooch Lung

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:37 pm
Posts: 3301
Location: Ireland
Thanks Guys! I appreciate anything.

I only started taking her up to sleep because I knew they would eventually start complaining so I was doing anything to avoid it. I had been employing the not reacting method when she is barking at something in the street by getting up and walking out to the kitchen. She usually follows me out there

She does bark a good bit but nothing overly troublesome and not constant. It's like one or two barks. The other neighbour has no reported no problems and she works nights so is there a lot during the day.

I have been doing extra long walks with her in the evening after work but I think I will go back to doing the twice a day. She doesn't get much from the walk around the village in the morning though. In the evening I take her to the woods and I do a lot with her along with the usual walking, like practising her recall, heeling off-leash, she gets to have a good long run and a sniff around. Usually when we get back she is ready for food and bed. Going to invest in some super comfy bedding for downstairs in the hope it will sort it out.


While it does sound like she barks a lot. She doesn't do it the whole time... I swear!!! The neighbours arrived back 30 mins ago and have been outside cleaning the cars and their dog has been sitting on my grass and Lex hasn't reacted once. Their car is about 10 foot from my window. She is just watching out the window. The only times she has barked today is when I accidentally stood on her paw and when I was playing with her on the floor. She gave her usual one bark and was done.

I've only lately swapped to using a brush because the head of my hoover is broken. She got over the hoover as a pup fairly quickly. Maybe I need to bite the bullet and change the hoover.

She also used to complain about my cat and the last dog I had. Apparently my dog killed one of her plants by constantly peeing on it even though he only peed near it once. I know it was only once because we didn't pass that side of the garden when we went out. He also next to never went to the loo outside. He would hold on the entire way around a walk to pee at the back door of my house on the flooring.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 11:53 am 
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Sounds like your neighbor is really the problem, however from other things I've read about Lexi, I think Torque's idea of a backpack (with some weights/cans of beans/whatever in it) is a great one for her.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 11:55 am 
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Seagull of the PPK
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god, neighbors. makes you want to leave a bag of flaming poo.

i know i mentioned it before but i need to say i am a real backpack fan, it is super effective and my dog really loves his. You figure that a walk with a weighted pack equals 3x the walk without the pack, so you might want to consider it to tucker her out when the weather gets colder, for example, and you don't want to be out as much.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 12:33 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:37 pm
Posts: 3301
Location: Ireland
Shoot, I thought I had typed it out..... she is just done growing so planning on getting her the backpack soon. Hoping that now we can head off on more interesting walks so I will be able to bring some water in her backpack and one of those collapsable bowls. It means we will be able to stay out for longer. There is one particular spot I love to head with her so she can have a good run around in a field and swim in the pond/body of flood water.

Lexi is definitely of the active type. She will pace all day in the house patrolling, be constantly into something and playing. She plays a lot. Like all day she will be throwing toys up in the air and playing fetch with herself. Drives me mental because I can't hear the TV. I also don't have the TV up by much because they might complain again. She definitely takes up a lot of my time because she needs so much stimulation. She has been coming out of other pup behaviours lately. So hoping the barking subsides also.

Also, for a while she would bark if there was kids playing directly outside the house. This is only a newish thing because there never really was kids playing out there before. The nearby houses kids are only getting to the age where they can go outside to play now and the weather has only been good enough the past 3 weeks or so for them to be outside so this is a new thing for her. The last week she hasn't really been reacting to them, only if they run right up near my window.

The other neighbour adjoined to my house saw my Facebook status asking for tips for dealing with a barking dog as I've had a complaint. She said she doesn't have a problem with noise from mine as it is only occasional and normal dog behaviour.

Oh this neighbour has a history of telling off little kids for being outside playing and kicking balls against the wall. She also poured booze around a neighbours work van and dumped the empty cans near it because he kept parking it outside our houses.

While I was out on my walk too, to deal with the problem of her barking at them when they pull-up, I'm going to plant some tall shrubbery to block the view. Not too tall though because I don't want to block out the sun but tall enough to obscure the view.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 12:48 pm 
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Your neighbors sounds awful! However, since Lexi has a working, driven personality, doing some basic training around her barking will probably help her a lot, even though it sounds like she is already an all-around pretty great dog. I'm going to throw you a lot of ideas, but it may be overkill for your situation, so pick what, if any, feels right for you and Lexi!

So far everyone has excellent advice. As emmalv mentioned, it might work well for you to have Lexi learn and perform an incompatible behavior when she starts to bark. Whatever would work for you in those situations -- "go to your place," "down" (often the down position is relaxing to a dog), a trick of some sort, or a "find the delicious-food-filled-Kong" game that you set up for her while you mop. Start by getting the behavior down in a neutral, nonstimulating environment, and then start asking for it when you are in a situation with her barking triggers. If you use food rewards (or something else highly motivating) to do this, Lexi should soon start associating her barking triggers with delicious food or awesome-happy-fun-times and may start looking to you for treats/reinforcement when she is in the presence of a trigger.

For walks specifically, try using "Where's the dog/person?!" or "Look!" when you are approaching a neighbor. Start by watching people or dogs that are really far away and unlikely to excite her at that distance. Give your cue and treat when she looks at the person/dog. Soon she'll be looking at you for a treat immediately after seeing a person or dog on the street. Gradually use closer and closer people. Eventually you won't have to treat for everyone, but keep treats on hand for those you know she really wants to bark at. When she looks to you first instead of barking it's a huge accomplishment for Lexi and definitely should be reinforced and rewarded! You can also use "Look" at the window -- sit with her for 5 minutes a few times a day and "Look" and treat at cats or dogs outside.

Also, consider teaching her "speak" for barking on command (and "shush" for stopping). Often dogs who are given an outlet to do it on cue don't bark as much in day-to-day life. And once she is reliably "shushing" to your "speak" command she may be able to use it in a more exciting situation like when she is barking at a cat.

You might also look up canine calming signals and instead of actively trying to manage the barking in certain situations, see if you can get Lexi to respond to you throwing out calming signals. For instance, when she barks try turning your head away and yawning, or turning your back. I use them all the time with my dog to get her to back off/settle down. If Lexi is used to her barking getting a response, your indifference may trigger an 'extinction burst' where she temporarily ramps up her barking, but with the consistent message that her barking doesn't get any reaction, it may peter out. Of course, this depends on the patience of your neighbors during this period, and the social savvy of your dog to be able to pick up your cues. :)

It sounds like you have tons of toys for her, but if those toys aren't too mentally challenging for Lexi, in addition to the extra exercise that you mentioned, you might want to add in extra mental stimulation/brain games to wear her out. The Nina Ottosson puzzles are great, as are Buster Cubes, TreatStiks, and the Premier line of food-dispensing toys. Having her work for her food will go a long way toward calming her down and keeping her reactions to daily stimuli at an appropriate level.

Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol is also an amazing tool for excitable or anxious dogs. It really helps lower their everyday emotional baseline so they don't get as worked up to stimuli. It seems daunting but it's really easy and you can load these mp3 files onto your computer or iPod or whatever so you don't have to read a piece of paper. It truly is one of the biggest bangs for your buck in behavior modification training!

DogStarDaily has great lure-reward/non-aggressive training methods for teaching specific cues/behaviors and working with behavior problems. I know they have a section on problem barking, and although it will probably be a bit overboard for Lexi's case, you may find some helpful advice. You have to create a free account but it is a pretty useful site!


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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 1:11 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:37 pm
Posts: 3301
Location: Ireland
All that sounds fantastic! I will explore the links a bit later when I've a chance to sit properly.

The past two days I've been keeping treats in my pocket at all times. When she has barked at something outside I've given the rattle of the can with money in it to get her attention then pop a treat in her mouth once she is quiet. I just need to start getting in there before she has a chance to make noise. Hopefully it will work when it is the neighbour outside problem.

I have a food puzzle thing for feeding time. She will actually ignore a bowl of food in favour of it.

I'm rearranging the furniture right now. Even though I hate furniture in front of a window I now have the sofa back in front of the window so now she can't get a view out the window. I had a chair there before but she used to hop up on it so she could have a look out the window. I just think for now until I can get the shrubbery to block the view I'm going to have to leave it there and let the blind down and work on getting her not to react to the noises.

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 Post subject: Re: Dealing With Dog Barking
PostPosted: Sun May 19, 2013 3:33 pm 
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Dying from Nooch Lung

Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:37 pm
Posts: 3301
Location: Ireland
Ok, moved the dog bedding to a new spot in the living room. It is now at the furthest point away from the TV and it is in between a wall and the chair I will be sitting in. It's tucked in like a little den since she likes being in somewhere like that and it will be right next to me. I haven't been sitting down since the new arrangement but I did stand near her new spot while I was doing the ironing and she was happy out there with her toys.

Usually Sunday night is the one night she will bark the most because it is the night I stay up the latest to get house work done before the week a head. There wasn't a peep out of her this evening at all. Will just have to wait it out until next weekend to see if it will make a difference in her daytime behaviour.

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