How do I stop the barking?! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2010, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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How do I stop the barking?!

We've let Gunner's barking become a little bit of a problem, and now we really need to do something about it.

In some situations, I have his demand barking pretty well under control, but there are still a few situations in which he just yaps his head off and we can't seem to get a handle on it. It hasn't been a problem because it doesn't really bother us and most of the neighbors around here have dogs who bark more than Gunner does, so it obviously doesn't bother them either. Because of that, we've pretty much let it go. But we're going to be moving (hopefully soon) and want to get a handle on his barking. Don't want to tick off the new neighbors right away!
The problem situations are:

5am, when mom's alarm clock goes off. He's all excited because it's time to get up and starts barking like a fool. Mom usually has 85 pounds of Golden Retriever laying on her, so she can't get up quickly to do anything about it. She's tried to have him sit and reward him for being quiet, but he wants no part of it. He backs away and keeps barking.

We have a similar situation when we return home from the store or wherever we've been. He starts the minute he hears the car pull in the driveway and carries on for a good twenty minutes. When we come in the house he's all excited, running and prancing around barking like a maniac. I've tried to put him in a sit and he ignores me. (Actually, he backs away from me and barks even louder.) I've tried calling him over to me, to pet him and calm him down - same thing - he backs away and yaps at me.

Same situation when I get ready to leave the house and he's not going with. He protests quite loudly and for quite some time. It's especially bad when I take Riley for his walk. I can be four or five houses down the block and can still hear Gunner. (Even in the winter, with the house all closed up. Yikes!) I assume he does the same thing when we leave to go shopping or whatever. I thought about giving him a Kong stuffed with something good, but he's not the least bit food motivated, so I don't know if that would even work.

It's a bad situation. We've let the problem go and now we need to get a handle on it, and quickly.
I don't like the idea of any harsh corrections. He isn't going to understand why the rules have suddenly changed and he's now being punished for something he's always done. But at this point, I'll listen to any suggestions.
(We're looking at one house tonight where the owners live right next door. Ouch!)

Deni
Owned by:
Gunner - GSD - 7 years
Riley - Golden Retriever - 2 1/2 years
Jake - (aka Demon kitty) Gray & white tabby
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2010, 09:58 AM
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

When the alarm goes off he starts barking? Can you lay there and not move until he stops barking? You might have to start this on a day when you don't need to go anyplace, because the first time you try this it might take an hour or more. The second he stops barking start getting out of bed. If he starts barking again (and he will), roll over and pretend to go back to sleep. Repeat until he gets the message that you are not going anywhere until he stops barking. Like I said the first time is the longest. The next morning you try this it should be easier, but it will get easier every day.

I heard about this method with a woman who would take her dog herding and it would carry on barking in the car when it got to the herding farm. The first day it took her a good hour for the dog to get the message, the next day it took 5 minutes.

This approach can be taken for a lot of things, but won't work for stuff like barking at squirrels or passers by. For that kind of thing I stay out with my dog and tell him quiet. He knows what it means.

ETA: Be forwarned that while you are training this he will try harder and bark louder to get you out of bed because it's worked for him in the past. This is completely normal.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2010, 10:27 AM
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

If you've let this go and he has figured out that you're not going to enforce the no barking rule it's going to take some doing to correct this.
He's obviously not taking you seriously. Trying to call him over to you to pet and calm him down is rewarding bad behavior and doing nothing to address the issue.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-03-2010, 03:18 PM
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

One thing you can try is to not go in the house while he is barking, period. Soon as he stops........hopefully not 3 hours later ....start to come in.......if he starts again. Close the door again. stops barking, open door, starts barking close door.....once in the house......... if he starts to bark......turn around and walk back out the door. It may take a little bit, because barking has gotten him what he wanted in the past, so now he is going to try to bark louder and harder before he figures it out.

Betsy

Ava GSD 3.5yrs

Champ 1985, Heidi 2000

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-04-2010, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

Quote:
Originally Posted By: BlackPuppyWhen the alarm goes off he starts barking? Can you lay there and not move until he stops barking? You might have to start this on a day when you don't need to go anyplace, because the first time you try this it might take an hour or more. The second he stops barking start getting out of bed. If he starts barking again (and he will), roll over and pretend to go back to sleep. Repeat until he gets the message that you are not going anywhere until he stops barking. Like I said the first time is the longest. The next morning you try this it should be easier, but it will get easier every day.

I heard about this method with a woman who would take her dog herding and it would carry on barking in the car when it got to the herding farm. The first day it took her a good hour for the dog to get the message, the next day it took 5 minutes.

This approach can be taken for a lot of things, but won't work for stuff like barking at squirrels or passers by. For that kind of thing I stay out with my dog and tell him quiet. He knows what it means.

ETA: Be forwarned that while you are training this he will try harder and bark louder to get you out of bed because it's worked for him in the past. This is completely normal.
Oh, Gunner knows darned well what "quiet" means too. (Actually, our word is "enough.") But he knows what it means. If someone comes to the door, if he's barking at me to throw his toy or to go outside, I just tell him 'enough'. Sometimes all I have to do is give him a LOOK and he'll quiet down. It's just these few trouble spots that we weren't able to break through, so we've let it go.

We did have great success, for a short time, with the old pennies in a soda can trick, but he's such a nervebag that the noise scared him and we stopped using it. I want him to be quiet, but I don't want to scare him into it!

I see the logic in the approach you're talking about. I see how it could work. I'm just trying to figure out if I could put that into practice having two dogs here.
Riley usually wakes up between 4:00 and 4:30. He's quiet and patient - usually just comes up for a snuggle until the alarm goes off. But once it does, he's already been awake for a while and really needs to go outside. I don't see how we can make him hold it while we're trying to wait Gunner out. That would be a problem.

Luckily, it looks like we'll have some time to work on the barking. That house last night was a total bust. The owner, who's still moving out, has three cats. Smelled more like thirty. (No thanks!)

Deni
Owned by:
Gunner - GSD - 7 years
Riley - Golden Retriever - 2 1/2 years
Jake - (aka Demon kitty) Gray & white tabby
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 05:19 PM
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

What I have learned has worked for me, but you need to work on four areas. He doesnt see you as a leader so needs to protect you, he sees you as a child. It starts with the greet, when you get home say nothing to him, dont make eye contact just ignore him until he is calm. If he jumps up just push him away from your space, but say nothing. By talking to him when he is like that you are baiscly just repeating what he is saying, so you get nowhere. Its fear with him thats all.

When he barks you get up saying nothing, just walk over, pat him on the head and say good boy. Have a look outside and calmly bring him back with you by the collar, no pulling just gentle. If he keeps it up you have to sin bin him, put him in a room on his own until he is quiet. But no talking.

Feeding is next, always make sure you eat first, even just token eat, have his food ready and maybe a biscut beside it for you to eat, make sure he sees you eating it. As soon as you have finished put his food dowm and give him space to eat. As soon as his turns away from his food take it up, dont leave it down for him.

The next is the walk, always make sure his is calm before you go out, and he walks to heel while he is on the lead, you are the leader so he must follow.

This is just a short insite into Jan Fennels "The Dog Listener" Its works atreat.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-07-2010, 07:50 PM
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

Deni, First things first...the alarm clock. You might have to practice this during other times other than 5AM. Just find a time one day to work on this, and keep setting it for 5 minutes later. Jackpot when he doesn't bark, continue, etc.

Second.....pulling into the driveway. Can you find a way to redirect his energy into something other than barking?? When we come home, Glory also gets very excited. So, we direct her energy into a short game of fetch or tug indoors until she has burned off her "I'm so excited you're home!" energy. So, we walk in the door, tell her to grab a toy if she hasn't already, and we play fetch and tug with her! You will probably have to practice this during times whne you are not actually coming home. For example, find time to work on this.....go outside, get in your car, back up to the end of the driveway, pull forward and park, come inside and REDIRECT her energy with a game, REPEAT....

Third....when you're leaving the house. I have been practicing this with Glory daily. I pretend I am leaving. Go in and out the door, in and out. Differ in the amount of time you are outside and then walk back in. 10 seconds, 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 1 second, etc. Jackpot for behavior that is acceptable to you.

If you are leaving with Gunner, hook him up to lead and go in and out several times, but the 5th or 10th time, he should be "Ok, this is boring, and following you quite nicely."

All of these things will take practice, and they need to be practiced during times OTHER than when you are actually waking up or really coming home or actually going out the door. They need to be PRACTICED. I hope this helps, among the other wonderful advice you have been provided with. Sincerely, Christina (and Glory *woof*)

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 09:34 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

Thanks for the suggestions, guys! I really appreciate it.

We've been coming and going so much over the past few days that we've had some great opportunities to work on it.

I've learned one thing - I don't give Gunner enough credit. He's one smart boy. We've simply just started saying "enough" like we actually mean it, for once, and he's getting it! We still have a lot of work to do and have a ways to go, but I'm seeing improvement already. I'm so proud of him!! (And disappointed in myself for thinking that he's just a big dufus who was never going to get it.) Here, all we really need to do is convey to him that we're serious and he's willing to listen.

The alarm clock situation still needs a bit of work. I like the idea of practicing that at times other than 5am, to get him used to the new rules. We're seeing improvement here, already. He still gets out one or two of his high-pitched, excited barks before mom can tell him "enough." But once she does, he's starting to quiet down. He's starting to go right up to her, kinda sheepish like "I'm sorry grandma - I'm just so happy you're up" and wants his good morning pets and kisses now, rather than backing away and yapping. He still does the "roos" and he whines while he's getting his attention, but we don't care about that. If he has to vent himself somehow, that's fine - it's quiet and no one is going to hear that.

I've started doing something like the distraction when we return home. I've started going right for Gunner and making a fuss over him, first. It seems to be heading him off. He still lets out a couple pretty good barks when we pull in the driveway, but if I get to him before he really gets on a roll, it's much better and he's starting to quiet down much quicker.
I think that problem has been a combination of excitement that we're home and impatience. The way we have the gates configured when we're gone, Gunner has the bedrooms and Riley has the living room. So when we'd come in the front door, I would greet Riley because he was right there, then work my way over to the gates to spring Gunner. Of course, by that time Gunner was yapping his head off. I've started giving Riley just a quick pat on the head in passing while I head straight for Gunner and make my fuss over him first. That seems to be much more to his liking and he's able to contain himself long enough for me to get to him.

Leaving the house with Riley (and not Gunner) is still a big problem. The second we step out the door he's barking and howling. We did buy a Kong to stuff with goose liver or something really good and we might start keeping a stock of big, fresh knuckle bones for him to get before we leave. If he can just start to realize, 'hey - they leave and I get the good stuff to enjoy in peace - this is cool', I think we can solve that problem. He doesn't get that stuff any other time because Riley can be a little beast and they'd end up scrapping over it. So it might just be enough of a big treat for him that he won't CARE that we're leaving. (~fingers crossed~) I'm going to start that today and see what happens.

But overall, I'm surprised, and very proud of GunMan, for the progress we're already making!

Deni
Owned by:
Gunner - GSD - 7 years
Riley - Golden Retriever - 2 1/2 years
Jake - (aka Demon kitty) Gray & white tabby
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 10:09 AM
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

It looks like you are doing well with this. Now on the walking Riley - is Riley the younger dog? If so, walk Gunner first, then walk Riley. When working with two dogs, I found that routine worked well.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 02-09-2010, 11:52 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How do I stop the barking?!

Aha. Yes, Riley is the younger one, with more energy to burn, so I always take him first. Riley is very quiet, though, and rarely barks, so that makes perfect sense. Take Gunner and get him all content (and tired) first. Riley will wait, maybe not happily, but at least he'll do it quietly! Seems pretty obvious in hindsight -- why didn't I think of that?

I did try the goose liver-stuffed kong today and it seemed to help. Gunner did bark when we walked out the door, but the lightbulb seemed to go off pretty quickly. lol. He realized that he had some pretty good stuff there and would rather go for that than bark. So, a combination of the two - taking him first AND leaving him with something good when I take Riley - should just do the trick!
(Edit: I do have to laundry now, however. Don't think mom would be too happy about the goose liver stains on her bedspread. Oops.)

I want to get to the point where I can take them both together, but I'm still a little leery of doing that. That's an awful lot of dog on the other end of those leashes and while they're good separately, together I just know they'd gang up on me! LOL.

Deni
Owned by:
Gunner - GSD - 7 years
Riley - Golden Retriever - 2 1/2 years
Jake - (aka Demon kitty) Gray & white tabby
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