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I have had Ava since she was 8 weeks old. She has never been a barker before now (she turned 2 in June). She has always watched quietly as people walked by the front of the house, cats wander in the yard, people working on the corner etc......Now, she has started having barking fits when we are sitting on the side porch. She will see workers in another yard and bark, people walking up the street, other animals, etc. I have taken to putting her inside when she barks because I cant seem to quiet her, I always have been able to before. She doesn't appear frightened, although sometimes she does have her hackles up when dogs are walking by (she has always done that when playing with other dogs, she gets very excited). I dont want to discourage her barking to alert, but I would very much like her to hush once I've checked it out and cleared it. She seems to be so distracted by the other activity she completely tunes me out.
Is this another stage?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
After reading this over, I just wanted to clarify that Ava is never outside or on the side porch without me with her. She is never alone unless she is in the house.
 

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Can't help but am anxious to read some replies.
I am experiencing the same thing. Until recently Jeter just observed people and animals walking by the house. Since he has turned about 19 months old he now feel compelled to bark anyone and anything that walks by on our side of the street. He even does this when we are in the house.
Any help and advice is appreciated.

Lynne
 

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Sounds like reaching another level of maturity. Getting confident in herself and now wanting to protect her property.

Is it such a bad thing? I want my dog to be vocal when she is outside.

One thing that I've always done is acknowledge her when she sees/hears/smells something and starts barking. I'll come out and say "what is it?" looking in the general direction of her interest. She automatically comes over to me and we look together. If its not some kind of critter that is getting her excited, just my interest alone will quieten her.

For those times there is something out there: neighbors, critters, etc. and she starts barking non-stop even with my acknowledgement...I'll let her bark a bit, then tell her "enough, hush". Of course, that took some training so that she would understand what I wanted. Praise her when she stops barking enough to focus on me and "good hush."
 
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