They worry because their five-month-old Show Cocker Oscar’s barking is getting too much now.

Some dogs are simply more vocal than others

The main problem is two dogs next door that run up and down the fence, barking aggressively at the puppy.

This isn’t good. It scares Oscar and he barks back at them. He rushes the fence. It teaches him bad reactions towards other dogs.

The other times that he barks are easy to deal with

He barks while they are preparing their dinner. He can now sit on the mat and work on a Kong.

He barks on walks when they hold a stick to throw. They do this so that he will come back to them when called.

I suggest they don’t carry a stick! They can use a ball which they can hide. They can have him on a long line and work hard on training him to come to a whistle.

Changing how Oscar feels

They can’t remove the dogs, so their only option is to change how Oscar feels. Scolding or saying ‘No’ when he barks doesn’t help at all.

For now each toilet trip must be on lead. I suggest a retractable lead (which I don’t like for walking) but is convenient for the garden.

They can prevent any further rehearsal of boundary barking, responding to the dogs. They will keep him away from the fence and work on it.

Counter-conditioning

If no dogs are out next door, each time he even looks at the fence they can say Yes and drop a bit of food.

When the dogs are out, with Oscar on lead they will have short sessions scattering tasty bits of food away from the fence. He will learn that the next door dogs trigger food.

The sessions should be very short – ideally no longer than he can be quiet for.

They can also scatter feed him meals in the garden to give the area good associations.

It’s just his increasing barking that worries them

Oscar in general is an easy puppy. He’s independent and clever. It’s the increasing barking that worries them.

So far he’s friendly with all other dogs when out. They don’t want his interactions with the dogs the other side of the fence to spoil this. He’s at a sensitive age where dog meetings should be positive ones.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help