6-month old Cocker Spaniel Molly is a barker.
Helping Molly’s humans with an online consultation.
Even though a Show Cocker, like many Working Cockers Molly is easily excited and also very alert. She’s also a little fearful of some things.
Molly barks at sounds she hears, she barks at their cats. She barks when she’s bored and she barks to get them down after they have gone to bed.
Molly barks while the lady is trying to work.
We looked at decreasing arousal levels generally and giving the young dog more brainwork.
One thing that stresses her every morning is walking beside the busy road on the way to the park. She is worried by the traffic; when she was a little puppy she didn’t want to walk at all.
Getting her to feel happier near traffic
They will now desensitise and counter-condition her to the traffic. They will fine a bench at a comfortable distance from the busy road that passes the end of their own quiet road.
They will feed Molly every time noisy traffic goes past the end of the road.
I did that with my own Cocker Spaniel Pickle, and after a couple of weeks of doing this several times a day he was walking along the busy road ignoring buses and tractors.
Molly’s barking has now developed into something that is making their lives difficult. She has started barking a few minutes after they have gone to bed and has discovered that it gets them down.
She then gets a fuss!
Where first she went happily back to bed, she is now barking to get them down again. They are very effectively teaching her to bark at bedtime!
They will now try to break the pattern.
A quiet mooch of a walk outside last thing followed by not shutting the pen where she sleeps. In this way it’s open already if she is barking for someone to let her out.
If that doesn’t work they need another cunning plan. Perhaps the man can come back down before Molly starts to bark, walk around the kitchen ignoring her and then go back up. No fun at all!
He will break the pattern by taking her for a short quiet walk before bedtime.
Molly barks for attention.
The lady works from home and having to interrupt for a barking dog isn’t very professional!
She will now have a ‘box of goodies’, things that Molly can chew when she gets restless.
We also looked at how to use a clicker to reinforce stopping barking and being quiet – gradually lengthening periods of quietness (Molly is a very well-loved pup).
The calmer that Molly is, the less aroused she will be and therefore the less she will bark. Even barking itself adds to her aroused state. Which in turn causes her to bark. A vicious circle.
At 6 months old she is now becoming a teenager and testing boundaries!