They have tried everything they can to ‘stop the barking’. This includes what ‘people’ have said they should do when the young German Shepherd barks.
They have tried bark collars, a water spray and shaking stones in a bottle.
Actually, they’ve not tried everything.
One very important thing they’ve not tried is to work on the cause of why Kiera barks. How she’s feeling.
Kiera ‘barks all day’.
She barks at everything she hears and most particularly people walking past the house.
It all started only a few weeks ago.
This coincided when the lady, who had been ill for several months, went back to working from home at the kitchen table. Previously Kiera had her company and attention all day, mostly in the sitting on the sofa together watching TV.
Then, suddenly one day, Kiera was being ignored for a large part of the day while the lady tried to get on with her work in the kitchen.
I wonder how much of when Kiera barks it’s simply to get the lady’s attention. To make something happen for a bored dog. Perhaps even the mild punishment (which didn’t work at all) was better than nothing?
It was certainly guaranteed to get a reaction of some sort.
We have several lines of work which are kind of entwined.
The first is to prevent as much rehearsal as possible. Each time she barks ‘Go Away!’ at people and dogs passing the window she is reinforced. They go on their way. What’s more, she gets a reaction some kind from the lady.
Blocking the view is a priority. Now the barks will be sounds only.
I’m pretty sure the adolescent working dog is bored. She needs to be given more to break up her day so that she doesn’t have to do it for herself.
A sudden change
The change from being on the sofa all day with the lady or following her about and being talked to, to being ignored while she works in the kitchen, was too sudden.
We discussed the lady working from the living room instead. There are a couple of advantages. One is that the windows don’t face the front, and the other it’s the same room where Kiera had previously been quiet.
When Kiera barks, what should they do?
Finally, what should the lady actually do when Kiera barks?
How is it from Kiera’s point of view, I wonder?
If a dog (or child) is alarmed, will not adding punishment of some sort increase the alarm rather than decrease it?
So, firstly some management is necessary. They will block the view and probably change to working in the living room.
The lady will have tiny bits of cheese beside her while she works. As soon as Kiera barks, she will thank her and call her. She needs to be quick before the dog gets stuck into barking. (The lady is rewarding her for coming away, not for barking. Also, the food will help to counter-condition Kiera – the noise triggering something she likes).
Punctuating Kiera’s day
They will do their best to punctuate Kiera’s day with enriching ways to eat her daily quota of food – Kongs, kibble scattered over the garden and so on. She will have a range of things to chew.
The gentleman walks Kiera before going to work early in the morning and that’s it. I suggest the lady takes her for a short sniffing mooch at lunch time too.
They will take a multi-sided approach to resolving this problem. I’m sure if they stick to it, the barking will greatly reduce.
One thing to bear in mind is that because she barks at every sound it, and has done so now for a few weeks, it will now have become a habit.
Consistency is needed to break it.
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