Emotional Barking. Window Barking. Barking on Walks

I have just been to two lovely little dogs, a Westie and a Miniature Pinscher.

Both bark in a frenzy when someone knocks on the door. Westie Jock barks non-stop when out on a walk.

I group barking roughly into four types – one when the dog simply wants something, another when the dog has been trained to ‘speak’.  Then there is barking in play. The fourth and most common type of barking that I go to help reduce is what you could call ’emotional barking’.

Barking – a symptom not the problem

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Barking at the Window. Coming When Called

Barking at the window and coming when called sound like two separate issues but are they?

Jack Russell Candy is a near-perfect little dog.

barking at the window causes stressThe lady has had her for about four months because her owner, an elderly man, moved into a home.

She is divine. In the photo I made a little noise and immediately she opened her eyes and the little tail started wagging furiously. So friendly.

Since moving in to the lady’s home the little dog has started barking at the window as people walk past and it’s getting worse as time goes by.

Sometimes the lady just ignores it, sometimes she will loudly go SHHHHH and sometimes the little dog’s barking at the window gets her cross – understandably.

To stop or reduce the barking two things should happen.

First, the environment can be managed better.

Secondly, we need to look at why the dog is barking and deal with that. Barking at the window is a symptom of something else.

All this barking at the window simply raises Candy’s stress levels.

Raised stress levels cause her to – BARK!

Barking at the window will be reduced, obviously, if Candy can’t see out.

Why does she do it?

Candy will be barking at the window because she feels that in some way passing people are a threat. GO AWAY! And they nearly always do – unless it’s the postman.

Like many dogs, she particularly hates a postman.

I ask people how they would react if their child suddenly screamed ‘there’s a man with a gun coming down the path who may shoot us all dead’!

Would we ignore the child and leave him to get on with it alone? Would we crossly tell him to be quiet?

No! We would help him out.

The lady should react in such a way that shows Candy that she has some support.

Helping Candy out will involve reassurance and calling her away. This is where reliable recall comes in.

When the lady calls her, Candy must know that abandoning her self-appointed job of guarding the house, trusting the lady to deal with it, is worth her while. If the lady calls her and gives her nothing, it will soon be like ‘crying wolf’ and she will be ignored.

Having called Candy, the lady can reward her and then decide what to do next. She may investigate or take her somewhere else. She may even have a game with her.

“Candy – Come!” should bring Candy running.

This means she can be called away from barking at the window. She can be called in straight away from the garden.uttleycandy

It means that eventually the lady should be able to let her off lead. She would dearly love to see her running free. A while ago she had let go of the lead accidentally and Candy was off! Eventually she came back but not sufficiently near to be grabbed before running off again.

The lady will continue to walk Candy on the long line, but will actively work on recall when out also.

Candy didn’t bark at the window at all when the lady first had her. Once it started, the barking has got worse and worse – as things do. With a different approach both dog and human will be a lot more relaxed.

From email: ‘Now that the three months is up may I thank you for the help and support which have made such a difference to the way I relate to Candy.  She’s such a sweetheart that it is really lovely to understand ways of dealing with any awkward issues and to see the progress that we have both made……  I think you and your training of humans are brilliant
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Candy. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page)

When Every Meal is Dish of Treats

German Shepherd lying by doorIt may be a little late in the day, but they want to prepare the stunning German Shepherd as best they can for a smooth transition into his new life. It is not uncommon for me to go to someone who is ‘caretaking’ a dog for someone until they can take him or her back.

Max has been loved and wonderfully looked after for the past eight months by a lady and gentleman who have never lived with a dog before.

In a month’s time the four-year-old will be going to a new life that will include a young child and a baby on the way.

My caring clients want to hand him over as well-equipped as possible.

I found out immediately that Max was simply not interested in food – even the special tasty little treats I brought. Without food it’s much more difficult to reward a dog meaningfully or to desensitise to things he’s uneasy about.  ‘Good dog’ is seldom sufficient, talking can convey the owner’s underlying anxiety even if the words themselves are positive and a favourite game like tuggy is often inconvenient and just too long-winded.

The reason became apparent when we discussed his eating habits. He has four meals a day – you could almost say ‘banquets’. Breakfast is tuna or tripe, lunch is chopped ham, tea is boiled rice with chicken, liver or heart and dinner is kibble. In addition he may get biscuits when he asks for them. When his regular food contains all the best things and in such quantity, what is there left of sufficient value for earned treats?

When I arrived I had been prepared for a barking dog, so he was on lead. Helping him with his reactivity to people coming to the house is one of their priorities. However, when they let me in following my instructions, Max was chilled! He sniffed me. We sat down – and he delicately and calmly helped himself to the Stagbar that I carry in my bag!

Work will be a lot easier if they are able to use food in order to deal appropriately with his barking at passing people and dogs, and his frenzy when someone comes to the door. They need food to help him to feel comfortable with visitors. They need food so that he pays them attention when necessary. They need to be able to reward him for sitting or lying down when asked so that he is under control when necessary. If in his new life he shows too much interest in the baby or they are at all worried that he may be uneasy around the child, they need to know that he will come to them when asked.

At the moment all the best goodies are showered upon him for free and he has to work for nothing. Now he needs to work for the best food. They will gradually reduce the variety offered in meals till his diet is more basic and he ends up with two ‘normal’ meals a day. If they are worried he’s not eating, he can still be earning and working for tasty stuff but outside his mealtimes.

Max needs to put a bit of effort in order to get what he wants. I’m sure that just like us, dogs value more the stuff they have had to put a bit of effort into acquiring – and perhaps take more note of those people whose attention they have to try a bit harder for?

Some things they simply won’t have time to address in the short time they still have him, like his manic barking in the car at everything that passes. This could make things difficult in the future with children in the car too. Their simplest option is to get a crate for the car and prevent him from seeing out – fortunately he was crate-trained.

One other thing they can help him with in the next four weeks is his very close attachment to the lady. He became visibly anxious when she left the room although the gentleman was still with us. He panted and paced. It will be hard for her as she loves him dearly, but she may need to help him to become a bit more independent of her.

I really hope that I will be called upon to continue to help this dog in his new life, and to put the caring couple’s mind at rest that all their efforts to invest in Max’ future are being built upon.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Max. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Lead reactive. Scared of Other Dogs When on Lead

Sweet Josie is lead reactive when outJosie looks like a little fox and I have no idea what mix she is. She is divine.

She lives with a lady who has some mobility problems who got her from Wood Green Animal Sanctuary six months ago. At home Josie is the perfect companion, sweet natured and undemanding.

In a way Josie’s case is a bit similar to the last one I went to – German Shepherd Storm. Both dogs are no problem at all at home and friendly to people, but become insecure and very reactive to other dogs when out.

Lead reactive

Josie’s problem is more specific in that she’s only aggressive to dogs when she is trapped on lead. She’s lead reactive. When out running freely with dogs in a field she is absolutely fine.

She needs to build up some faith in her lady so that instead of feeling unsafe and vulnerable, trapped on the end of a lead with an uncomfortable head halter held by an increasingly nervous owner, she feels comfortable, protected and safe.

We looked into equipment that would be suitable for walking Josie comfortably beside the mobility scooter. She needs to stop pulling.

The lady is fine walking short distances so will initially work in the front garden. A popular dog walk is down the road and dogs frequently go past the end of the drive. They will also go out to the road and just stand and watch the world go by so that lead reactive Josie learns to relax.

Building trust

As soon as a distant dog appears – the road is long and straight – the lady will work on Josie on lead as demonstrated by me, always remaining within her threshold; she will retreat up the garden, increasing the distance. She will use encouragement and food to associate dogs with only good things (a technique that can only be used when the dog is sub-threshold, before the barking and lunging begins and her brain goes into a different zone).

Similar to Storm, Josie has been able to perfect her ‘barking at dog’ skills from home, barking at the front window; everything must be done to reduce opportunities for barking at passing dogs. Any barking there is gives the lady an opportunity to react in a positive way instead of scolding her. A good ‘dog parent’ is the protector.

Josie needs to trust her lady to look after her around other dogs in order to become less lead reactive. As in many cases it is largely about how the humans behave.

Barking and a Neighbour has Complained

Jack Russell Tilly is friendly and biddableJack Russell Tilly lying peacefullyWhat a lovely little dog Jack Russell Tilly is! She is friendly and biddable. She is also inclined to be excitable and a barker, but a lot of this is because her humans don’t understand her needs. They are imposing human values on her – assuming what would be important to a person is also important to a dog and often it’s completely the reverse.

The other day they received an anonymous complaint from someone living nearby, about Tilly’s barking. It’s surprising how many people I go to where the neighbours haven’t the guts to knock on the door and resort to anonymous notes. Tilly’s owners hadn’t realised that Tilly was barking so much and the last thing they want is for her to be distressed – or for neighbours to be disturbed.

The lady is of the belief that Tilly needs lots of freedom and space when they go out. She has run of the whole house, from their bedroom, down the stairs, to the sofa overlooking the front window and then out the dog flap and open access to the garden. So it is, for the hours when her people are out, she will be charging about barking at sounds. She is reactive to most noises as many Jack Russells are and she’s being given guard duty.

She will be a whole lot more settled shut in a smaller, less stimulating and more den-like area without the stresses of noisy neighbours, dogs barking, pigeons, cats teasing her from the fence and so on. Humans may feel shutting her in and away from windows is unkind, but from the dog’s perspective it is a lot kinder. She will feel safe.

Just to double-check that there are not other issues causing her to bark when she’s left alone, the teenage son will rig up his iPod to record exactly what she does when they are out. This will be easy now that she will be contained in a smaller area.

 I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.

Will They Break Window to get at a Dog?

Winston watching out of the window with Jack


Doberman Jack on guard duty at the window


Jack is a large Doberman X aged about eight, and Winston is a Staffie/Chocolate Labrador mix or eighteen months. Beautiful, friendly dogs.

Jack had several homes before his present owner, and poor Winston had been kennelled from about six weeks old until he moved in with them at a year old. Considering this very unsatisfactory start in life, he is brilliant. With both dogs there are some problems that need ironing out, but the most dramatic is the barking at the window at the frequently passing dogs.

Barking and guard duty can be very stressful to a dog. Winston is a compulsive licker – licking people, chairs, the carpet – anything; he grabs ankles when people move about and when stressed he may either hump people or redirect onto Jack. So far there have been no major issues between the dogs, but it’s probably only a matter of time before Jack stands up for himself. Jack takes out his frustration and stress on his bed – humping that.

As there is nowhere for the dogs to go apart from at the front of the house, in addition to reacting to the barking in an appropriate fashion the only solution is to somehow make it impossible for them to see out – especially when the couple are out at work and not around to help the dogs. Jack is very tall, and Winston climbs onto something. He sometimes charges at the window like a battering ram and it’s only a matter of time before the window smashes and both dogs are out in the road.

The plan now is to get rid of as much stress from the dogs’ lives as possible and to keep things between the two of them well under control. Walks will eventually be a lot more pleasant with calmer dogs on loose leads , but this will take a considerable length of time.window covered with frosted plastic

I can tell already that the couple will have the patience and commitment to see this through. They have already come a long way with these two great dogs.

I visited five weeks later. the barking at the window has stopped altogether, aided with plastic covering on the bottom half that looks like frosted glass. They were struggling with Jack’s walks. See the story of my revisit and what we did.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.

A black Labrador and a Jack Russell

Black Lab Daisy lying down after a busy day


Jack Russell Betty after a busy day running with the horses


Black Lab Daisy, four, and older Jack Russell Betty have a wonderful life. They run beside the family’s horses each day, and accompany them to the stables. They are loved dearly. So long as they are not over-excited, they are polite and sociable.

To start with, sitting peacefully in the sitting room with the lady, gentleman and their teenage daughter I was wondering why I was called out. Then the eighteen-year-old son came home with massive excitement, sat down and roughed the dogs up – stirring Betty in particular into a frenzy. He then departed as quickly as he had come in, leaving Betty to unwind somehow, which she did by taking it out on Daisy.

Just imagine tickling and throwing a young child around until it was hysterical and still not stopping? It would end in tears for sure. It may be done in the name of love, but is it kind? No!

This was something I noticed, but not what I was called for. There are two issues that trouble them. One is quite persistent barking at the window – initated by Jack Russell Betty, through the garden fence at the dog next door and at the front door. Barking causes yet more barking. Stressed dogs bark and barking makes dogs stressed!

The second issue is that they are unable to take Daisy out with them away from home, because she is impossible on lead. They had her from about eighteen months old and she had probably never been on a lead prior to that. She pulls so much it’s painful to hold her. They recently tried a trip to the pub garden where Daisy became stressed  at people or dogs coming towards them where they sat. It is no wonder, given the state she must have been in by the time she got there.

Because these dogs have plenty of exercise, this is easier for her people than most as they can take their time, working at it bit by bit. The golden rule of  ‘never again does your dog go anywhere on a tight lead’ (I show them how) won’t mean that it’s a trade-off between exercise and walking nicely.

At least twice a day they go though the door to go over to the stables where they keep the horses – and Daisy is away! She leaps into other people’s gardens, scavenges for bread put out for the birds, charges all over the place – ending up at the stables ahead of them. When loose lead walking is established in the garden and out the front, it can slowly be introduced, a few yards at a time, into the journey to the stables!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.