Bertie barks if the young lady so much as draws breath that may signal she’s about to stand up and take him for his walk!

He goes crazy while she gets his harness and puts her shoes and coat on.

Bertie barks constantly at them to throw a stick or ball

When out, the fourteen-month-old Working Cocker Spaniel barks constantly for them to throw a stick. Sticks are his favourite and he will collect them. It would be hilarious if not so infuriating.

At least when he’s carrying sticks home he isn’t barking.

To stop him obsessing over sticks, still his number one favourite, they throw a ball.

Now they have a barking ball-addict.

If they stop to talk to someone, Bertie immediately gets impatient and barks.

The lady works from home. Her working day is punctuated with barking sessions while he tries to get some sort, any sort, of attention from her.

Bertie barks constantly with excitement in the car, from the moment they leave until they reach their destination.

When they go to the young lady’s family home, Bertie barks non-stop all the time he’s there.

Barking is not only a symptom of over-arousal. It’s a habit too.

Excitement always builds up and Bertie’s way to defuse his arousal to bark. There are lots of small things they can do which, like with a jigsaw, the more pieces they add the better the overall picture becomes

The young lady will now punctuate her working day with short activities for Bertie like giving him things to chew, a short tug game, a hunting game, his meals divided into frozen Kongs and so on – but only offered when he’s not barking.

It’s easy to be tempted to ‘let sleeping dogs lie’, but what’s in it for him to be peaceful?

She will need to avoid a strict routine or consistent triggers otherwise he will soon start to bark in anticipation!

Weaning him off his addiction

Walks used to be taken over by his obsession – with sticks. They then introduced balls. He’s now addicted to chasing sticks and balls. Inadvertently they have taught him to bark by throwing them when he does so.

Now they need to wean him off chasing balls and sticks. They can do this gradually by, when he barks, throwing something else he’s not so interested in – a soft duck perhaps. They must totally refuse to throw balls or sticks.

The final step would be to wean him off the duck too.

They took him to the beach recently where there were no sticks. They didn’t take a ball. He had the time of his life and was peaceful for rest of the day.

Stopping to talk

For now when the meet someone and want to chat, they can gently play tug while they are talking and before he starts to bark. They need to break this habit too.

They will teach him the tug game at home first with a special tug toy. It will only be initiated when they bring out the toy. The game will end when they decide. He will see them put the toy away. Finished.

He will learn this game has a finite ending and barking won’t either start it or bring it back.

Click for quiet

Finally I taught them to ‘click for calm’ and click for quiet. This is the very opposite to saying NO or QUIET for barking. It teaches him what they do want him to do instead – and that this can be rewarding and enriching. They will capture small moments of quiet and then gradually build up duration.

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