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I have another question to throw out for discussion. What do you feel are appropriate levels and kinds of vocalization for a 5-month-old puppy and later healthy dogs?

As I have noted in some other threads, five weeks ago, I started working with a 16-week old puppy who was very reactive around new places, people, and animals. There are questions about how he was treated between 8 weeks and 16 weeks of age.

Through counter conditioning, we have eliminated the reactivity to new places. Now, whenever I open the back seat car door, I have him wait patiently for about 20-30 seconds while I zip my coat and get his leash ready. At the word 'ok' he is out like a shot to sniff around. No hesitancy at all. Yesterday, we stopped at a park that had railroad tracks. During our adventure, a couple of freight trains rumbled through. The first two times, he glanced at me, so I told him it was 'ok.' After that, he looked a couple of seconds in the direction of the train and then went back to what he was doing.

We still have more progress to make with people and animals.

This brings me to the question of healthy vocalizations. For the first couple of weeks Ole always made the same vocalization patterns; growl, snarl, and bark aggressively. Recently, Ole has started to do a few more types of vocalizations.

Happy bark -- When Ole is thrilled, like when he is playing in the snow, he lets out a couple of exuberant barks. Then he goes back to playing. This started a few days ago.
Informational bark -- When Ole sees something unusual but not threating, he gives a couple of woofs. If I say 'ok or enough,' he goes right back to what he was doing. If I don't say ok, it can escalate. It appears that Ole is going to escalate even though I said 'ok' we take our normal reactive dog strategies. This started a little over a week ago.
Angry/Scared bark -- This used to be the default. Now it tends to only happen if Ole is surprized. We are working hard to eliminate this barking through counter conditioning in controlled environments.
Whine -- A couple of times, Ole has sat at the gate between the living room (his area) and the kitchen (my area) and started to whine. A firm 'uh-uh's followed by ignoring him seem to stop that behavior for now.

I am curious how other German Shepherd Pet owners feel about their dog's vocalizations, what they feel is healthy behavior for puppies and dogs, and what level do they consider it a problem.
 

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Scarlet is definitely a rattle mouth. She has an opinion on everything. Talk talk talk. I personally love it. The only time it’s a pain is when she screeches at me if she thinks I’m going outside with her. She started it very early. First time we took the litter outside (6 weeks old maybe), she marched up to my lawn chair, sat, and barked at me. Nothing’s changed, lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks,

That helps a lot. It is great to see my dog turning into a happy puppy. I will continue to encourage both the happy and informational barks.

This week we will work on 'speak' and 'quiet' to build on the idea that talking is good as long there is an on and off switch. I think I can find some youtube clips of puppies playing which will cause him to bark. I can capture and reward that 'on' behavior. Then we can work on 'enough.'
 

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Jax would stand behind me and rahroo at me when she wanted something. If she were human she would have been tugging on my shirt and stomping her feet. I was never not amused by it.
 

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I am lucky that all in all my puppies have been quiet except for some puppy play with another puppy or dog which the noise is quickly corrected. Only one dog barks when someone opens the gate or comes to the yard. As they mature, they do nuisance bark if they are in their crates and the cat walks by or they will bark at another dog if they are crated with food.

They will carry on if I am leaving the house, they want to come with me.
 

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My girl is so incredibly annoying and noisy. I should have discouraged it more when she was a pup, but I thought it was cute. It's still kind of cute, but that depends on my mood! She does pretty much the same thing every day.

High pitched whine over and over = I want outside
High pitched bark and looking under the sofa = my ball has rolled under the sofa
Low pitched grumble = I want attention / I'm jealous you are giving attention to the other dog
High pitched squeal = she can hear my husbands car driving up the drive

I can certainly tell whether it's friend or foe (mailman) coming up the drive as well, she is a big barker when it comes to strangers on the property.

I've always found German Shepherds to be great communicators, one thing I love about them :)
 

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Okay Vocalizations to Me:
Soft Whine = "My water bowl is empty." or "I want to come with you"
Low Bark with Growl = "Suspicious Person About" or "Back off, Rude Dog" or "Take your Hands Off me, you rude Human aka Vet!!"
Howl = Singing along with Sirens or Where is everybody, I'm so Lonely....
Special Howl "Haroooo" = Hello! when I've returned from a significant absence

Vocalizations I Dislike/Reprimand:
Growling and Trashtalking other dogs when we walk by their fence
Barking and Growling at our Neighbor when he's gardening in his yard (Come on, you know him by now!)

Overall my dog is usually quiet though. He's probably quiet 98% of the time.
 

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Last night, I woke to a joyous yipping and stamping of feet from the crate. A herd a deer was walking through the yard. Ole can't see them, but he must have heard them chewing the shrubbery:)

I started to cry. It is such a relief to hear Ole making happy noises instead of fearful/angry noises. Had to pull my self together and say, 'Thanks, that is enough. We will go play outside in the morning."
 

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Jack is extremely vocal:
  • He growls when he plays with Kodi. It's almost impossible to keep him quiet.
  • He bays like a hound if someone approaches the door.
  • He talks and sings when excited.
  • He whines when he wants something.
  • He barks when he sees "intruders" waking by, especially his arch-nemesis our next door neighbor's old, grouchy Yorkie that hates everyone and everything.
  • He barks happily when he trees a squirrel, or when we command him to bark.
Kodi the puppy is vocal in a more demanding way:
  • He's only just learning how to sing and talk and will only do it randomly to complain about being in his crate.
  • He barks to demand play from Jack, food from us, to go outside, or play from us. It's a very, very demanding bark. he's just a puppy, so it's like a toddler complaining.
  • He growls when playing, though not as much as Jack.
  • He barks from time-to-time while playing.
  • He's picked up a little reactive barking, but this is expected at 4-5 months as that's when the idea of "territory" is beginning to be established.
 
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