German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,495 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bianca constantly barks at my next door neighbors every time she sees them, and I am not sure how to stop it. It is only one couple she barks at, she ignores the neighbors on the other side.
I don't want to stop her barking completely, I don't mind if she barks at strangers, but my neighbors are getting annoying at being barked at every time they enter or leave their house. A few months ago I asked my neighbor if she could come and give Bianca treats so she could get to know her, but Bianca barked at her when she walked up to us, and she declined to try after that.
I think the reason she barks at them and ignores my other neighbors is because of the proximity to our house. The neighbors she barks at, their walkway up to the front door is right near our living room windows and the walkway in their backyard is right next to our fence. Bianca used to live in a rural area so I think she doesn't understand that the property ends so close to the house and so feels the neighbors are trespassing every time they use their walkways. I always tell her to leave it when she barks at the window or in the yard and she always obeys, but the neighbors come and go when I'm asleep so she barks at them then when I can't stop her.
Interestingly enough, my neighbors have had relatives visiting for the past week or so and they are often out in the yard with their kids, and Bianca NEVER barks at the kids even though they are strangers, but will bark when the couple comes outside.

Any ideas, that don't require my neighbors' cooperation?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Wow, I could use some help with this as well. Our Klarra has a fetish with the neighbor's GSD behind us "Haley". The funny part is that one day I was talking to my neighbor and he handed me his dog to come play with Klarra. She immediately stopped barking. I thought perhaps some play time together would solve the problem but as soon as Haley went home the barking began once again. When I tell her to stop barking it's almost like I don't exist. There are only two things that get her in that state of mind, Rabbits, and Haley. I would like some suggestions as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,073 Posts
Maybe she didn't bark at the kids because she could hear/see them talking, screaming, running, etc.-it was a constant noise. But with the neighbors she's caught off guard when they are coming and going and she's alert barking.

Do your neighbors work an off shift? I ask because my neighbor works 3rd shift-it took mine sometime to get use to hearing him coming and going and our yards are pretty far apart-but he still heard him and barked. He no longer barks-because he "knows" what's going on. lol

It's interesting that she barked at the neighbor when she approached? There's something that's upsetting her.

I'm also interested in what others have to say. This could be something so apparent, but we are missing it-and maybe even a quick fix.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,368 Posts
I certainly believe dogs can 'sense' things we can't. Maybe your neighbors are giving off bad vibes to bianca, since the woman was reluctant to treat her, and then she barked, so now refuses.

Just throwing this out there, but when bianca is left alone can she still see the neighbors coming and going? Maybe they yelled at her, teased her, did 'whatever' as she barked at them, and well these dogs don't forget a single thing..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,495 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Just throwing this out there, but when bianca is left alone can she still see the neighbors coming and going? Maybe they yelled at her, teased her, did 'whatever' as she barked at them, and well these dogs don't forget a single thing..
Yes, she can see them through the window when she's in the house, and sometimes she stays out in the yard without me watching her for short periods (she loves to lay on the porch in the sun.)
Actually come to think of it I remember one time I was in the yard (in a part where the neighbors couldn't see me and didn't know I was outside) and I overheard the couple next door in their yard, the husband made some remark about Bianca's barking like "I'd like to see her try something" so that makes me wonder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,602 Posts
We only have two neighbors- we live way out in the ginky weeds- and our neighbors on one side could care less about the dogs so they feel the same. The other neighbor is a lovely woman who adores dogs and her husband couldn't wait until I had a dog again because they missed Omy, our last gsd, so much. Well Stosh can not stand the guy! He won't go anywhere near him, puts his fur up and barks when he sees him out in his yard and wouldn't go to him if he had to. The wife on the other hand, Stosh just loves. So I have to go with what he thinks and feels. I don't encourage him to like the guy or explain it to the neighbor. As you say, they sense things we don't and not everybody has the same tastes in people
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,571 Posts
My guess is that she continues to bark at the adults for the same reason that many dogs bark at the mailman. It works, from her perspective.

She hears them. She barks. They leave. So in her mind, she scared them off. She was successful. Every time she barks and they grow quiet and leave (going into the house or the car or whatever), she is getting reinforced again, building new neural pathways, and getting better at this behavior.

The kids, however, run around and play and play and play. She can't scare them off. She probably tried that barking behavior with them a few times. But it didn't work. So it faded away before it ever became a habit.

Even when the adults aren't scared off at any particular time, if it works for her some of the time, she's going to keep doing it. It's a variable interval of reinforcement -- only the most powerful way to train a dog.

If, when you're not there, they give her any attention at all (perhaps telling her to be quiet), that's even more reinforcing. If either is afraid of her to the point that their cortisol levels rise and change their body chemistry, she may smell that. That's a change in the environment that might by itself not be reinforcing, but along with the other stuff, amps her up.

I think you're going to have a really hard time with this one, but it's doable. I'd keep her in the house when you're not home. The more she practices the behavior, the better she gets at it. We have to do whatever we can to stop the behavior from occurring. When you're home, I'd have her on a long line, call her to me the instant I see/hear the adult neighbors and reinforce heavily with favorite treats or games for come/quiet (which I would train as a single command like "hush") .

And I would train this, at first, with a 100% reinforcement schedule until she KNEW that coming to me would be more reinforcing (EVERY time) than her previous reinforcers...maybe as long as a month or two. Then I'd move a variable interval. But it would be a long time before I faded reinforcers, if ever.

Extinguishing unwanted but highly reinforcing behaviors is difficult. It requires consistency, excellent reinforcers of our own, and attention to detail.

I'm sure you can do it. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,571 Posts
I overheard the couple next door in their yard, the husband made some remark about Bianca's barking like "I'd like to see her try something" so that makes me wonder.
It's just me, but I don't normally assume that my dog's unwanted behavior is the result of the extraneous people around her (unless I have proof of that).

It seems likely that your neighbors have probably told Bianca to be quiet, perhaps even shouting at her over the fence. But it also seems likely, based on what you've said, that Bianca's barking predated your neighbor's getting frustrated.

I'm a dog lover, but if I got barked at every time I went into my yard, I'd get annoyed after a while too. So I wouldn't necessarily read too much into that comment you overheard by your neighbor.

Maybe you could do let your neighbors know that you've started an intensive training program to deal with the barking, and if they hear barking, to please not say anything to Bianca because you're on it and taking care of it.

I've never met these folks of course. But even if Bianca doesn't like these people, who knows why? I had a dog that didn't like really obese men. Short/Tall/Overweight/Skinny men of any race were ok, but not morbidly obese ones. And morbidly obese women were ok. Who knows why? I never figured it out. They just made her really uncomfortable. Other dogs have their own "issues" perhaps based on temperament, perhaps based on a gap in socialization. For example, dogs who aren't raised around smokers or drinkers may have problems with people who smoke or drink a lot. People tend to assume that dogs act weird because humans in their lives have mistreated them, and certainly in some cases with some dogs it's true. But much of the time, it's simply temperament and socialization/training that was inadequate, non existent or had peculiar holes that no one noticed.

There are just a lot of weird reasons that dogs don't like people. Heck, humans are the same way.

That doesn't mean it's the other person's fault though. Bianca MAY be an excellent judge of character. Or she may just not like people who smell like pepperoni pizza and these folks order Domino's four times a week.

That's why I'm kind of a strict behaviorist when it comes to my dogs. I don't care so much WHY as how do I shape/modify the behavior? It keeps us from laying blame on anyone. We just look at the behavior, try to determine how or why it's being reinforced (unreinforced behavior doesn't naturally repeat itself); then we figure out a way to replace the old behavior with a new one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,005 Posts
I've found that if I claim the yard then I control the actions in it. I'm sure I look like a nut but I take the pooper scooper, 1 piece in each hand, and I patrol the fence and never hit the dog but poke and you stay between the fence and the dog, don't let the dog get to the fence. The fence is yours!!! Once the dog gets the idea they learn to listen outside and then teach they can bark once then stop and wait for you to investigate, if it is nothing they must not bark again. Very time consuming and exhausting at first but very worth it
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,495 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I wanted to add, she already does respond promptly to me when I call her back in the house if she's outside barking at the neighbors, and if she is inside and barking/lunging at the window and I tell her 'leave it' she stops barking and comes to me. She is also never outside when no one is home. She doesn't respond as well to my other family members, but I'm trying to train them. ;)

She already listens when I tell her to stop, but I don't want her to start barking at them in the first place, because I can't call her away if I'm not home or asleep or quickly enough if I'm not in the room when she starts barking at the windows... Since she doesn't bark at the neighbors on the other side I'm hoping there's a way I can teach her not to bark at these neighbors either.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
751 Posts
Have you ever thought about setting up a video at certain times so you can see or hear if anything strange is going on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,467 Posts
Are you using a clicker? I wonder if the next time your neighbors are out, you might not be able to catch her right before she barks. (If you know their schedule, you can be prepared in advance.) Click, treat and tell her "just looking." Keep clicking, treating and repeating "just looking" as long as she refrains from barking.

We're doing this with Shasta to stop her barking at other dogs and it seems to be working. I'm using cubed chicken breast for this; it takes a high value treat to distract her from the other dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,307 Posts
I knew some folks with a dog who barked a lot at one side of their fencing. They later found out the neighbor behind the fence had been squirting the dog in the face with a water bottle, and hitting the fence with a shovel when she was out there to try and make her stop barking. Obviously it backfired and I guess the dog then saw them as a threat and kept barking. Maybe they have done something similar and she remembers that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,782 Posts
My GSD used to bark at this one neighbor of mine whenever he was out on his patio. One day I was watching my neighbor while Dodger was barking at him and he was staring at Dodge while he was barking. Every time my dog barked my neighbor was looking at him. I quickly figured out that he was getting attention from my neighbor when he barked, so I asked him to not pay any attention to him when he barked at his barking simply stopped because he figured out that no one was paying attention to him.

Maybe suggest to your neighbors to take a walk with you when you walk you dog? that should help your dog to realize they're not a threat. Good luck!!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top