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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ever since I got Sam he has been barking, even at me when I first met him but quickly knew I was no threat and took to me which is why his breeders chose me to take him in. From then on he never barked at my presence nor from approaching him. He had to take a little longer with everyone else who lives here because he used to have a fit and bark none stop when he saw something strange he never seen before.. now, not so much carrying on but still barks at people period. He will still bark at those he knows that he cannot quite make out or is unsure of who it is/what it is when it's dark for example. I have been given advice on what I could try as in bark collars to even throwing treats on the ground before he gets a chance to bark his head off. I honestly don't know what to do. Right now I was able to rid his carrying on when I would leave him alone in the crate and used a spray collar for that. Anything else that collar is worthless in preventing him from barking and seems to ignore it when it comes to strange people showing up. I still want him to be able to alert me if suspicious people show up on my property as we recently had someone that showed up late at night that was wandering around our house.

Is there anything at all besides training classes that will help with the barking? I just want to get it under control is all not get rid of his bark since that is basically instilled in him as the breed. He is not aggressive with anyone, he cowers, fur is raised and tries to hide.
 

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I have read of others on the forum who train a quiet command. I can tell my girls to Shut it, and they will... But I'm not sure I could explain how I got that accomplished, lol!!

Sounds like your dog is more like my Jack, and is fear reactive barking. For him, I'm using redirection, more of a management technique I think, than training.

I like my dogs to alert bark and then quiet. To get Jack to do this, every time he barks I call him to me in a super cheerful voice and then pet and good boy and a thank you! It's a mini party. I look at the door while I'm rewarding, too. Basically, I switched from using a No Shut Up voice to a Good Job! voice and it shuts him up. But it also lets me have the peace of mind knowing I will still be on notice any time a stranger is on my property.


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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
You may want to look on this website that has questions and answers: Turid Rugaas - Calming Signals Community She also has a book "Barking the Sound of a Language".
Never heard of that book and I cannot read Norwegian though I can just barely get by with Swedish, lol. I'm actually familiar with the site Canis and have a couple of their mags and Dominans och ledarskap booklet.

It's not that I don't understand what's going on with what his barks mean, it's just that I cannot pinpoint the problem behavior when he does it and not fast enough either. Have you read this book? Tell me a little about it from your perspective.

I have read of others on the forum who train a quiet command. I can tell my girls to Shut it, and they will... But I'm not sure I could explain how I got that accomplished, lol!!

Sounds like your dog is more like my Jack, and is fear reactive barking. For him, I'm using redirection, more of a management technique I think, than training.

I like my dogs to alert bark and then quiet. To get Jack to do this, every time he barks I call him to me in a super cheerful voice and then pet and good boy and a thank you! It's a mini party. I look at the door while I'm rewarding, too. Basically, I switched from using a No Shut Up voice to a Good Job! voice and it shuts him up. But it also lets me have the peace of mind knowing I will still be on notice any time a stranger is on my property.


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My other dog barks too to alert of someone's presence but is not as consistent nor can compete with Sam's loud bark. But both dogs barking at the same time can extremely annoying. I usually tell them "quiet" when they do that, more or less they don't always respond to it and ignore it. I can get them to "speak" on command is all so far. I don't understand how to "quiet" them once they learn to "speak".
 

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Never heard of that book and I cannot read Norwegian though I can just barely get by with Swedish, lol. I'm actually familiar with the site Canis and have a couple of their mags and Dominans och ledarskap booklet.

It's not that I don't understand what's going on with what his barks mean, it's just that I cannot pinpoint the problem behavior when he does it and not fast enough either. Have you read this book? Tell me a little about it from your perspective.



My other dog barks too to alert of someone's presence but is not as consistent nor can compete with Sam's loud bark. But both dogs barking at the same time can extremely annoying. I usually tell them "quiet" when they do that, more or less they don't always respond to it and ignore it. I can get them to "speak" on command is all so far. I don't understand how to "quiet" them once they learn to "speak".
Yeah, I'm not sure how to do that either, except to distract them from the barking. I did read the chapter on Excitement Barking (at the door) after your post and Rugaas explains that keeping calm yourself, using hand signals and a toy to distract so they can't hear the annoyance in your voice, since that will escalate them further. Putting a toy in their mouth to shut them up :)

Oh, and the book is available in English :). I bought it from Amazon.

I think it's basically what I hit upon with Jack, keeping myself calm and getting his focus off the offending stimuli.

I've also done what Cheyanna suggests with whispering. It works with kids, so I gave it a shot with the dogs. Works sometimes. Better with human children, lol, because they are so curious they will get still and strain to hear your whispers. Trick I learned from a teacher trying to calm an unruly classroom!


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I was just thinking back to when I first took Jack in for foster... And he was a lot more reactive then. He would hackle and bark at anyone in the house who suddenly appeared around a corner, stood up too quickly from the couch etc. kinda terrified my son home for the holidays.

At that point I was keeping him on a short training lead at all times. Whenever he hackled and barked I would calmly take the lead and say Kennel Up and lead him to his crate for 3-4 minutes. Some days it felt like I was doing it over and over again. Didn't take too long before I could just say Kennel Up and he would take himself. The crate was his safe place. I was careful as I could to be super calm and consistent. Not a punishment time out. Just the same scenario I used to use when my young son needed a tantrum. Go to your room and have it out. Come back when you're finished. No options. I'm in charge here, and you're not getting me all upset.

Not that it wasn't super annoying, but making sure they can't see it and escalate off it.

The other thing that has helped has been lots and lots and lots of socialization. Keep people stocked with treats, and ask them not to approach or look directly at the dog. Just go about their business. When the dog approaches them calmly, its treats and quiet affection. A simple quiet good boy and maybe a little rub under the chin.

A reactive dog needs to be made to feel secure and I think that's means a non reactive handler who doesn't punish or escalate their fears. I think a bark collar can backfire with fearful dogs, so I would hesitate to use those corrective tools. Patience, calm, and redirect.


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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, I'm not sure how to do that either, except to distract them from the barking. I did read the chapter on Excitement Barking (at the door) after your post and Rugaas explains that keeping calm yourself, using hand signals and a toy to distract so they can't hear the annoyance in your voice, since that will escalate them further. Putting a toy in their mouth to shut them up :)

Oh, and the book is available in English :). I bought it from Amazon.

I think it's basically what I hit upon with Jack, keeping myself calm and getting his focus off the offending stimuli.

I've also done what Cheyanna suggests with whispering. It works with kids, so I gave it a shot with the dogs. Works sometimes. Better with human children, lol, because they are so curious they will get still and strain to hear your whispers. Trick I learned from a teacher trying to calm an unruly classroom!


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The toy trick seems so impossible to do. Sam is nearly unpredictable, meaning sometimes he doesn't bark and it's just the other dog and then most of the time he will when he has no clue who it is at first. He is very toy-driven though for the most part and not so much treat-driven when it comes to distractions.

I can get my other dog to pay attention to me when I whisper, Sam could care less. :/


I was just thinking back to when I first took Jack in for foster... And he was a lot more reactive then. He would hackle and bark at anyone in the house who suddenly appeared around a corner, stood up too quickly from the couch etc. kinda terrified my son home for the holidays.

At that point I was keeping him on a short training lead at all times. Whenever he hackled and barked I would calmly take the lead and say Kennel Up and lead him to his crate for 3-4 minutes. Some days it felt like I was doing it over and over again. Didn't take too long before I could just say Kennel Up and he would take himself. The crate was his safe place. I was careful as I could to be super calm and consistent. Not a punishment time out. Just the same scenario I used to use when my young son needed a tantrum. Go to your room and have it out. Come back when you're finished. No options. I'm in charge here, and you're not getting me all upset.

Not that it wasn't super annoying, but making sure they can't see it and escalate off it.

The other thing that has helped has been lots and lots and lots of socialization. Keep people stocked with treats, and ask them not to approach or look directly at the dog. Just go about their business. When the dog approaches them calmly, its treats and quiet affection. A simple quiet good boy and maybe a little rub under the chin.

A reactive dog needs to be made to feel secure and I think that's means a non reactive handler who doesn't punish or escalate their fears. I think a bark collar can backfire with fearful dogs, so I would hesitate to use those corrective tools. Patience, calm, and redirect.


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That's exactly how Sam reacts. The bark collars are obviously not going to solve his barking and that is why I only use it when he has a fit in the crate when I leave the room.. that has been the only thing that collar has helped with because he will not whine and bark anymore. But I agree with his fearfulness and punishment will not help the situation. I always tell people to ignore him and remain calm/don't be intimidated of his bark, he's just afraid and wouldn't hurt anyone.
 

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In still working on it and will keep you posted...

Got halfway through Patricia B. McConell's book yesterday: "The Other End of the Leash."

I love it so far. Idk whether you're a reader. But she did address this very issue. I will review and try to condense and relay tomorrow :)

Meantime, I do recall she said the same thing about remaining calm. Deep breaths when needed ;)


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I've been having some barking problems with Shadow, too. It's inconsistent: I take her to the pet store or a dog park and she's totally okay and even friendly with other people (with dogs it's hit or miss whether she will be friendly or avoid them), but on a walk or outside on my property she'll go ballistic if other people walk by. She'll listen to me when I sharply call her back, but she is laser focused on the walkers and barks for all she's worth.

Distracting her with treats and rewarding sitting and being calm is only slightly working. Sometimes she'll ignore the treat in front of her nose to keep staring.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It seems almost impossible bringing him out in public without not reacting to anything at all, even if it's less than other times. I'm really running out of ideas what to do on my own.

The toy distraction recommendation that JackandMattie put out there did not help. The first thing we started doing with his constant barking was to use a spray bottle as his breeders were doing this and then I've been using a aluminum can wrapped in tape w/ pennies in it lately at the house, shake and/or throwing at him. He does not like the sound it makes and quickly stops what he's doing when he hears it. Is there something like that that might help distract from/catch him off guard out there I can do?

I'm starting to think I may not be able to take him out in public like I can with my other dog and I know of someone else who has two shelter dogs that do not trust strangers and cannot take them out around other people.
 

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This is not a training problem. It is temperament and genetics. The dog is not strong nerved or confident in his environment. Punishing him with a spray or the can of pennies is reinforcing his fears.

Lee
 

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I have to agree with Lee, this type of reactiveness to everything is based in fear and insecurity. Punishements and aversives won't make the behaviour go away; confidence building and trust in a strong leader that they can defer to and feel that their leader will protect them is what makes this kind of behaviour go away.

My rescue was (is) reactive, mostly to other dogs. In her early days, anything new was also suspect. She had had zero training, and did not even 'know' what a leader was nor did it look like she had bonded to a human prior to me getting her - so my efforts to bring in some type of control, or push my authority on her amounted to absolutely nothing but frustration and conflict.

What worked for her is intense, ongoing, and FUN obedience training. When going through obedience exercises, she pretty much had to defer all control over to me - we practiced formal obedience on our walks, at vet visits, and attended a training club several times a week. It was a ton of work, but the results were amazing - a major change came about right after our first 8 week basic obedience class: it was like a switch went off in her head, and she was a different dog.

She was a barker (still is) but quiets down on command. Teaching her a quiet was also a lot of work, commitment and consistency. I had to supervise her all the time, and as soon as she started barking, and told her 'quiet' and gently closed her muzzle to make her stop. I got to know her triggers and could tell her quiet and hold her muzzle before she even started, and have her focus on me, at which point she got treats for NOT barking, for NOT reacting. The problem with her is that she did not understand what NOT barking was, so I had to show her, and had to be very consistent in order to change such strongly ingrained behaviour.

Reactivity to environment is genetic, but training can help in controlling the behaviours, and confidence building in the form of obedience and fun activities like agility can make a HUGE difference.

This is one of my favorite articles on temperament that explains different reactivity threshholds, well worth the read to help you understand your dog:
(Elements of Temperament, by Joy Tiz )

You could also consider a bark collar - the type that will give an electric shock when the dog barks. I've never used one, but a friend of mine does, and her dog actually became calmer and less reactive with a bark collar - reactive dogs seem to get "stuck" in a barking frenzy, that just feeds their reaction in an endless loop or reactivity. Taking away the frenzy that the barking created actually seemed to calm the dog down, even when not on the collar.
 
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